The International Writers Magazine: Japan House Style (From Our Archives)
And The Art of Home Design.
homes have a plethora of unique features, that have evolved to
suit a highly variable climate, and as an integral part of one
of the worlds great cultures. Though many Japanese people
now live in high-rise apartment complexes, the more traditional
aspects of Japanese home design still thrive.
||For people living
in Bladerunner style metropolises, short on space, incorporating simple
design and natural materials in the home can help breath a little fresh
air into an otherwise digital existence.
bonsai tree is a cheap and rewarding way to add some greenery to
a balcony, or windowsill. They come in a variety of species, and
can be gradually transformed into the perfect shape by careful trimming,
and the use of wires to direct the growth of young branches. Be
warned though: Keeping a Bonsai indoors can be tricky, as like any
plant, they are sensitive to temperature and humidity.
Sliding doors are
commonplace throughout Japanese homes. They take up less space than
their hinged counterparts, and make less noise. The only problem is
that obstacles such as small stones can sometimes get stuck in the tracks,
requiring removal. Avoid this by introducing a rule that everyone take
their shoes off on entering your apartment. Not only does this cut down
on floor cleaning, it helps you relax after a hard day in the office.
you want to go a step further, you could add sliding paper window
screens. The creamy opaque paper crossed with delicate light-wood
frames, creates a romantic ambience on moonlit nights, as can be
seen in the James Bond film, You Only Live Twice. For
those who want to save on their winter heating bills, there are
a variety of options. The kotatsu is a knee height table,
which has a blanket inserted between the removable tabletop, and
the underlying frame. (Picture a sandwich made with an oversized
piece of ham). A heater under the frame warms the space under the
table to toasty levels. You sit on the floor with your bottom half
under the table, and trap in the heat, by tucking the blanket in
around your waist.
Sitting on the
floor eliminates the need for costly and space consuming furniture,
but can cause soreness over prolonged periods. Thus, you may wish to
acquire some zabuton. These are large flat cushions designed
for kneeling or sitting on the floor.
you really are serious about shelving furniture and creating the
ultimate Zen room, you should consider changing the flooring itself.
Tatami are durable rectangular shaped mats, woven from
finely shredded rushes. They are arranged in a tightly fitting pattern
to create a cohesive floor surface. When new, they are a milky green
colour and fill the room with the pungent aroma of freshly cut grass.
After several months they turn brown and give off a pleasant scent,
similar to wicker. While tatami may be a little costly to install,
the results are well worth it.
Finally, as you
snuggle under the kotatsu, feel the smooth springy texture of tatami
mats under foot, and meditate upon the silhouette of your bonsai tree
behind the paper window screens; few things could be better than sipping
a glass of Japanese sake, especially when its served at the correct
temperature98.4 degrees Fahrenheit, that is.
© Sam Barnes March 2005
More about Japan:
How Japan keeps it's cool
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