Traditional Japanese house opens its doors!

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What characterizes the traditional Japanese house and what are the typical elements of architecture and interior decoration and outside such a space?


The Japanese housing is part of the culture of the East and, for this part, it is very different from traditional houses we used to see in the West. Designmag invites you to discover the elements specific to housing in Japan and to explore, through them, the Japanese culture in all its richness!

Traditional Japanese house reveals its secrets!

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The traditional Japanese house is a unique area both in terms of its interior as its exterior. Its architecture and decoration are intimately related to culture and history. One of the key characteristics of Japanese construction itself. It is generally regarded as a temporary dwelling that was rebuilt approximately every 20 or every 30 years, depending on the materials used for the structure.

What are the materials used to build traditional Japanese house?

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While this practice to undo and rebuild its housing several times during his life may seem strange to us, yet she explains the choice of materials generally used for Japanese construction: it is mainly natural materials, easy to find in the area where the house is located, such as wood, plants, paper and clay. We will see several examples of images of different decor elements and Japanese architecture below.

traditional Japanese house architecture - know the characteristics of conventional dwellings in the Land of the Rising Sun

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Another typical feature of the country's culture determines the organization of space and has consequences in terms of the traditional Japanese house is the fact that this kind of housing regularly supports several people, including different generations. The interior of the house is well designed to fit a variety of activities performed during the day, so that all members of the household can be performed daily occupations that are theirs. Here are some typical elements of traditional Japanese house, its plan and its interior.

Zen decor with shoji panels for authentic Japanese domestic

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The glass was a very widespread material in Japan regarding the Japanese house building. For this reason, the inhabitants of the Land of the Rising Sun resorted to ingenious ways to light their homes day and, in particular, panels and wooden shoji paper called.

Zen atmosphere and decor inspired by the Japanese tradition lighting

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These screens with wooden frames were used both as interior walls and exterior. They let the light pass through without major obstacle into the heart of the Japanese home. It is precisely these blinds that are causing the typical ambient lighting of the traditional Japanese house interior.

Fusuma panels and their practical and aesthetic role in Japanese interior

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Another component of the traditional Japanese inside the sliding fusuma screen functions as a door or as a wall inside the home.

traditional Japanese house photo with panels decorated fusuma

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Alongside their role as room dividers in the Japanese home, called fusuma screens were also elements of wall decoration in particular because they were decorated with Zen paintings and images representing the classical landscapes of the region.

The Japanese screen byobu, movable separation piece very clever

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In addition to panels and shoji screens and fusuma type, traditional Japanese house also had screens, that is to say bendable screens, also very richly adorned.

Japanese decoration and folding screen byobu for a more intimate oriental interior

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For dividing the interior spaces into two or more parts, these elements of Japanese interior were called byobu.

How to use a byobu screen in a traditional Japanese interior

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Through the decorations they contained, screens byobu filled an aesthetic function but also contribute to a more intimate atmosphere in the living space shared by members of the Japanese home.

Wood panels ranma to improve the air circulation in the Japanese house

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Some Japanese interior also had wooden panels located above the shoji screens and fusuma. These panels were designed to improve lighting and air circulation in the home.

Tatami, the coating conventional tillage rice mats Japanese home decor

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The floor of the traditional Japanese house is usually covered with tatami, a kind of floor mats made of rice straw mats which are secured together with a traditional technique.

The floor mat tatami is linked to many Japanese traditions

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The tatami mat was part of the decoration of the Japanese house that was closely linked to the traditional lifestyle of the country of the rising sun. It is precisely this type of flooring is considered closely related to the seiza, the term for the posture to adopt to sit properly.

traditional Japanese architecture House: a building that takes advantage of natural materials

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The architecture and design of traditional Japanese house also deserves attention a little longer, especially because of all the specificities of their own. Construction Japanese house is characterized by the very important role of the wood giving it an authentic and natural.

Japanese roof with wooden elements and Conventional

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Thus, the wood trunks beams are present in almost all ancient Japanese houses. Substrates made from natural materials were not always fixed with nails; instead, the Japanese craftsmen were using ingenious rope that allowed them to wooden elements made together. This technique is also visible on the ceiling and Japanese roof.

Traditional Japanese design house: what are the secrets of the different spaces of the Japanese domestic?

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The traditional Japanese house inspires a feeling of freedom not only thanks to its open interior plan and its minimalist decoration but also the corridors that encircle the building.

Japanese house Corridor engawa with wood cladding

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Known as engawa of the outside lanes of the traditional Japanese house facilitated the circulation in a relatively protected area of ​​the winds and rain and adopted as a mini terrace overlooking the garden.

Inside the Japanese house is protected from the weather by means of solid wood panels

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The corridor of the Japanese structure becomes in this way an area that separated the house from the outside and that contributed to its isolation and protection. The latter was reinforced with panels of wood or additional metal expressed Amado.

The Amado panels completely transform the look of the traditional Japanese house

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Attached outside the Japanese housing itself and nearby corridors engawa, panels Amado had the ability to completely enclose the house and therefore functioned as a kind of protection against strong winds, weather and against potential attacks.

Wood plays an essential role in the construction and decoration of the traditional Japanese house

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Wood is also a ubiquitous materials in the Japanese domestic as well as outside of the typical houses of this country.

How to decorate an interior inspired by the wood and the traditional house in Japan

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The coatings and surfaces made of this material are normally exposed in their natural colors. Painting is rarely used because it may deprive the organic surface of its vintage appeal.

The entrance area of ​​traditional Japanese houses has a specific function *

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The classic Japanese architecture has another feature that is noticeable close to the main entrance of the house. Here, we find an area specially dedicated to welcoming visitors, the genkan.

Knowing the importance of genkan to understand its role in the interior of a Japanese housing

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Located at the entrance, slightly lower than the rest of the living space, the genkan was also the area where we kept his shoes to advance into the interior Japanese socks, in accordance with tradition of the country.

Tokonoma, the area dedicated to the exhibition of Japanese art in the traditional house

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The interior of the traditional Japanese house was also equipped with a small raised area, called tokonoma. This part of the house was dedicated to the exhibition of various art objects and is close to her that were greeted guests of the house.

Zen Deco idea inspired by traditional house in the land of the Rising Sun

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These are usually asked to sit near the area tokonoma, giving them the opportunity to see the Zen decorative items contained therein.

Wall decoration with art and Japanese calligraphy for itérieur

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Among the decorative items and creations often seen in space tokonoma, we often find calligraphy developed in the tradition of the country.

Japanese floral art to traditional interior house decor

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Ikebana and bonsai that are part of the Japanese floral art are other examples of Zen decorations found in traditional houses of the country.

The bathroom ofuro, a quintessential relaxation zone

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Japanese bath is seen by many as the namesake of Zen decoration and relaxing atmosphere. Named ofuro, this part of the house has a small tub made of wood.

bathroom decoration with wooden Japanese bathtub

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Japanese spend much time in their bathtub because they consider that time spent as a relaxing activity.

wooden bathtub Photo of Japanese inspiration for Zen bathroom

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If you dream of a Zen bathroom inspired by the Japanese tradition, you can consult our detailed article on the development of this type of interior space.

What is the function of wood and bamboo blinds in the Japanese domestic?

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The decoration of the traditional Japanese house has, too, a whole series of objects and specific artistic creations that enhance the peaceful atmosphere of its interior. Sudare, the wooden or bamboo blinds, are part of these decorative items.

sudare blinds to a traditional Japanese home decor authentic

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Their function is to prevent sunlight from entering the living space, while letting fresh air circulate in the home.

What furniture to traditional Japanese interior?

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The Japanese furniture is suitable for seizu posture with low tables models that are used for meals, along with floor cushions. This kind of coffee table is named chabudai and cushions are called zabuton.

Coffee table chabudai zabuton cushions and Zen-style

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Alongside this coffee table, traditional Japanese house also had a kind of fireplace installed on the floor that was in the past, a kitchen area and a heating source for the home.

traditional Japanese house architecture with central fireplace

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These specific homes, Japanese irori, are usually accompanied by a hook, jizaikagi which is suspended over the fire and that can serve as hooks for a container for preparing a meal.

Landscaping Japanese Zen garden house with rock type

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As for its exterior design, the traditional Japanese house may further include a Zen garden with plants or dry garden with gravel.

Zen decorative Japanese garden with green plants and lantern

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Like the Japanese house, the Zen garden follows a series of rules which should be read before proceeding to the planning and implementation of this kind of green space. If you want to embark on such a project, so start exploring our garden section and our publications on the development of a Japanese Zen garden and succeeded!

Gate Zen garden wood for outside of sight

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Idea Deco Zen garden wall for privacy

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* Photo and design by Gardner Architects LLC