In addition to dedicated doors, Japanese homes include sliding wall panels known as fusuma. They're normally built of a wooden frame coated on both sides with paper or fabric. Modern Japanese families place a high priority on privacy, therefore you may see locked doors even in traditional homes. You can tell if a house is traditional or not by looking at the size of the front yard; if it's small, then the house is modern.
Traditional Japanese houses do not have windows. Instead, they have sliding doors called shoji. These are horizontal slats of wood or bamboo that let in light and air but keep out pests and bad weather. The shoji are always made from freshly cut timber and do not come pre-painted. They are arranged in slim lines along the exterior of the house facing inward toward a central hallway called a kaido. On either side of the kaido are rooms opened through the shoji. A staircase leads up to a gallery area above the main entrance where there might be more rooms.
The interior of a Japanese home is equally impressive. It features tatami mats instead of carpeting, which represent the only part of the house that is not swept clean. The floors are made of rice straw that has been woven into mats by hand. Each householder has their own room, usually about 1/4 acre in size. Rooms are separated from one another by shoji screens for privacy.
Japanese architecture (Ri Ben Jian Zhu Nihon kenchiku) has historically been characterized by raised timber constructions with tiled or thatched roofs. In place of walls, sliding doors (fusuma) were employed, allowing the internal design of a space to be modified for different occasions. Sliding doors were also used as windows by opening them up completely.
In modern Japan, sliding doors are still used in traditional buildings but they are becoming less common in new construction. They are still popular among owners of old houses who want to preserve their heritage features while adding on new rooms or upgrading their homes' insulation levels.
There are several types of sliding doors used in Japanese architecture: paper-thin wood slats (kiri-zori), wooden panels (shirogami), glass panels (shoji), and metal panels (shitomidoor). Each type has its own advantages and disadvantages. For example, shirogami are durable but can get hot during the summer months if not insulated properly. Shojis are expensive but easy to clean. And finally, shitoms are hard to install but impossible to break down.
The choice of door type will depend on how much maintenance you want to do yourself and your budget. If you have any experience working with wood, then making your own slats is easy and cheap.
In my limited experience with the interiors of modern Japanese houses, sliding panels are mainly restricted to the tatami room and closets, but some houses are still created that take use of their outstanding versatility. Western-inspired dwellings are uncommon, but not entirely missing.
Even if they are used only for storage, sliding doors are an important part of any house. They can be used to create a connection between two rooms, to let in fresh air during summer or keep out cold in winter. Sliding doors also allow you to see into and out of rooms where this is desirable. Finally, they provide privacy for people living in these houses. No one will bother someone who is hiding in a closet!
There are two types of sliding doors used in traditional Japanese houses: shoji and fusuma. Both are made of wood and have many similarities, but there are some differences too. Let's see how they work.
Shoji are large wooden panels that can be divided into several parts to open up different areas of the house. They usually hang on sliding tracks located above the door frame and are always closed by wooden clamps or magnets. This way, they can be put away when not in use and then easily slid back to cover the entrance.
Fusuma are similar panels but instead of hanging from tracks they are attached to strings that can be pulled to open or close them.
Japanese shoji Sliding outer partition doors and windows in Japanese architecture are built of a latticework timber frame coated with a durable, translucent white paper. They delicately spread light throughout the house when closed. When open, they provide an attractive view out while protecting from the weather.
Shoji means "beams" in Japanese. A shoji screen is made of several thin strips of wood or bamboo connected by small wooden or metal posts. The posts are covered on both sides with the thin strips and joined together at their tops and bottoms. The whole thing is then painted white to reflect some of the sun's heat and illuminate the room inside.
As for the name "shoji", it comes from the words sho (塞) meaning "sliding door" and ji (縁) meaning "bond". In old times, shoji were made of rice paper but now they're usually made of wood. They're popular all over Japan but especially in northern Honshu where there are many traditional towns with colorful shoji screens for viewing flowers during late spring and early summer.
Doors made of shoji give the appearance of a single door when closed but when opened, they form a large panel that can be divided into any number of smaller panels.
Shoji are often painted a decorative color or left natural.
Shoji are used for room dividers as well as for separating one apartment from another. They can also be used to create private rooms within a larger space. There are many types of shoji, but they all work on the same principle of sliding door panels that open out onto tracks mounted on the wall. The shoji is opened by pulling it away from you, which causes the track-mounted runners to slide the panel open. You then push the panel back towards you and it will close automatically behind you.
In Japan, shoji are usually made of rice paper (which is why they're sometimes called "rice screen" or "paper window") but wood is now used instead. The traditional color of shoji is black, but these days people also use colors other than black or white.
Shoji are easy to maintain and durable; you just need to give them a good clean every few years.
You can find shoji in many parts of Japan, especially around old Japanese houses. They're also used in modern buildings, especially in apartments.