Why Japan, like its culture, has always been a mysterious and alluring country for Europeans, worthy of close attention. The space of the inhabitants of the islands is quite limited, and over the years they have adapted to plan their homes in a special way.
They learned to plan the interior economically and clearly, using all the available space efficiently. What are the features of Japanese houses, and what distinguishes and characterizes this unusual style? A Japanese residential house is called “minka”, which literally means “house of people”in Japanese. But in the country there is another traditional type of house, designed for ritual activities. It’s called the pagoda.
About Japanese houses: old minka.
A huge part of the Japanese used to live in modest wooden houses. Some of them are perfectly preserved to our time. Of course, for today’s residents, they are no longer relevant. Most of them live in small private cottages or in modern multi-apartment high-rise buildings.
What did the traditional minka look like and what did it consist of?
The foundation of the house, or its backbone, was made of wood. The walls outside were finished with bamboo and covered with clay. Instead of walls inside the building, special sliding screens were used. Tatami mats and musiro mats were used to make the roof.
Depending on the region, the design of the buildings could change, some things were improved over time.
But the main thing remained unchanged – it was inexpensive and as simple as possible housing, able to protect the family from the weather.
Wealthier people, merchants and well-to-do peasants, could use more expensive materials – baked tiles, high-quality wood, durable stone.
Features of a traditional Japanese house.
Signs of a traditional Japanese dwelling.
Minimalism is one of the main features of a house in which absolutely everything is thought out, functional and rational.
There is nothing superfluous here, conciseness and simplicity are appreciated. Here, by definition, chaos, mess, accumulation of unnecessary things is impossible. You won’t find a storeroom or a closet cluttered with unfashionable clothes, broken appliances, skis, and old bicycles. Minimalism is present in everything, both in the structure of the house outside, and in the last corner inside.
In a typical Japanese house, there can be no non-useful space by definition. Each tiny section of the square is carefully thought out. In this country, most homes are traditionally small in size, so homeowners have to make all available square meters as useful as possible. Only the necessary household appliances, functional spacious cabinets: all things and objects residents try to remove, close, so that nothing is in sight, does not interfere and does not violate the overall style of the home.
The furniture is minimal.
Furniture is used only the actual necessary, without which it is impossible to do. The bedroom usually has a built-in large wardrobe and a low bed. It is unlikely that there will be anything else-dressing tables, dressing tables, poufs or bedside tables. This applies not only to urban housing, but also to suburban buildings. For a modern home in Japan, a neat low table is almost mandatory. It is the central object around which people gather during the tea ceremony.
Screen doors.
In a Japanese home, you don’t often see our traditional swing doors. Usually in such houses use screens, sliding doors and light partitions. The main principles that the islanders try to adhere to are convenience and comfort, careful attitude to space and as little noise as possible.
There are no strong walls.
A typical Japanese-style house does not have solid and solid walls. It is compact and quite light. Its walls are thin and have a small thickness. A typical country house is usually a simple quadrangle. The role of internal walls is played by special movable partitions. They can be swapped at will, making out the home in different ways. As internal partitions of dwellings, the Japanese use high-quality plastic or frosted tempered glass. In the old days, special screens were made of processed rice paper, which was then decorated with fancy patterns. It is the absence of solid stationary partitions inside the house that makes such a home dynamic and mobile, and its interior is alive and changing. The design of the room can always be changed according to the mood, the number of inhabitants or the season. You can beat the living space by making the rooms smaller or larger in size.
Transformer house and other quirks.
The Japanese house is a kind of transformer, which its inhabitants easily adjust to their own needs. The roofs of Japanese houses traditionally have a very small slope. Thanks to this, the structure looks wide and rather squat. The entire interior space of such a dwelling is as open as possible. It is unlikely that you will find many small rooms, nooks and tiny storerooms there. Even in a small house, there is always a lot of free space. The walls of Japanese-style houses are usually decorated with paintings. It can be a blooming sprig of Japanese cherry in an exquisite dark frame, which should have a rectangular shape. Local design does not welcome flashy and pretentious salaries with various curls.
The famous feng shui.
For decoration in the Japanese home, Feng Shui symbols are usually used, including various amulets and exquisite figurines. But all the decor is used in a small amount – the local design is intolerant of excesses. The house must certainly contain live plants, especially for a wooden one-story building. It can be an elegant bonsai in pointedly simple but refined pots. Often in the home here you can see a miniature plum or pine, which differs from the real one only in size.
Niches and partitions.
A familiar feature of Japanese houses is small wall niches. Traditionally, they place carefully selected items and small items that do not fall out of the general style. Very often, for the decoration of various objects and partitions, the original stained glass is used here.
Textiles and light.
Textiles in the Japanese interior are used for the very minimum. Fabric curtains often replace comfortable bamboo blinds. You will also rarely find expensive bedspreads and carpets here. Stylish comfortable mats have completely replaced the carpets, the beds are covered with a dense fabric of calm tones without bright patterns. The islanders do not like the dead white light of modern lamps: they can use it at work or in the office. For home comfort, they prefer soft, warm, warming tones.
Materials for houses based on Japanese technology.
Local residents prefer natural materials, both for the construction of the buildings themselves, and for their interior decoration.
What materials do Japanese people like more than others ?
Different types of wood are certainly in the first place; After all, the whole country is located in an earthquake-prone zone, and buildings made of this material are quite light, collapsible; If there is a serious danger, the structure can be disassembled and transported to another place, safe; There are no solid chopped buildings by analogy with our five-wall buildings; Japanese huts are lighter, elegant, they are more like a huge toy from a collapsible constructor.
Stone is also often used for the construction of dwellings. In the Land of the Rising Sun, a peculiar philosophy of stone is very popular. According to it, minerals are, as it were, the highest creations of omnipotent nature. The stone is solid, indestructible, silent and independent.
Private stone house outside the city, with wooden elements – the dream of any local resident.
Other materials.
Other materials are also used in the architecture and design of traditional houses:
rattan, sisal, jute, straw, etc.
These materials are used to make rugs, mats, window curtains and other textiles. Such products are much more pleasant than heavy dusty curtains. The Japanese analogues do not accumulate dust, they are perfectly cleaned and washed with the simplest means.
Japanese home decoration: colors used.
What color combinations are more typical for the interior and exterior decoration of traditional Japanese homes?
The fundamental principle when choosing a color is its naturalness . The main thing in the interior here is natural shades . It is unlikely that you will find here avant-garde acidic or neon tones, flashy color combinations. The traditional Japanese interior in the usual style leans more towards calm and classic color combinations. Very relevant are the colors of natural materials – sand, wood, stone, and so on.
Black is also often used. Often the design uses very dark shades of different colors: gray, brown, red.
Delicate pastel colors – milky white, beige, cream-are not alien to the inhabitants of the islands. A soft reddish-brown is often used. The design of the home looks great, in which the colors are combined exquisitely and contrastingly. They design both the exterior of the house and the interior.