Beautiful Japanese Style Architecture – Washitsu

Beautiful Japanese Style Architecture – Washitsu

We'd like to introduce something about ""washitsu"" this time.
Well, a washitsu is a room unique to a traditional Japanese house. So there is another term for it called nihonma. Today, a Japanese style rooms is also called a washitsu, but it basically refers to a room with tatami mats.

Speaking of washitsu, we should have to mention tatami.

  Tatami that creates a Japanese atmosphere

Tatami that creates a Japanese atmosphere

A tatami is a type of mat used as a flooring material. With its boards wrapped with woven soft rush straw, tatami is used to be spread over the floor in the room. The size is 3 feet x 6 feet (which calculates to be 910 mm x 1820 mm based on the modern measurement units).
A “tatami mat/jo” is still used as a unit to measure the room size even today. For Japanese people, when it comes to size, compared to the expression “how many square meters big”, the commonly used expression “how many tatami mats big” is more appropriate. In many cases, expressions like “6-mat (6-jo) bedrooms” are also can be seen in room rental advertisements to describe the size of the rooms.
* 1 mat (jo) = 1.62 m²

In addition, it should be noted that tatami layouts are different even in the same rooms.
These are the same 6 tatami rooms. Can you see the difference between them?
These are the same 6 tatami rooms. Can you see the difference between them?

In addition, it should be noted that tatami layouts are different even in the same rooms.  These are the same 6 tatami rooms. Can you see the difference between them?

It is considered unlucky to form a cross by several tatami mats’ corners converging at a single point, and this layout can only be seen in hotels and the great hall (ohiroma) of temples.

It’s so interesting, just like a puzzle game! However, it’s not only interesting, but also important.

It’s so interesting, just like a puzzle game! However, it’s not only interesting, but also important.

Even in shopping malls and modern buildings, a corner covered by tatami mats can be seen.  This also can be said to be the love of tatami that is unique to Japanese.

Even in shopping malls and modern buildings, a corner covered by tatami mats can be seen.
This also can be said to be the love of tatami that is unique to Japanese.

  Japanese style atmosphere - washitsu

Next, let's learn something about the things in washitsu.

Next, let's learn something about the things in washitsu.

  Tokonoma

It is one of the zashiki kazari (which means decorations) in kyakuma (guest room, parlor), usually can be seen in tatami rooms and decorated with hanging scrolls and flower arrangements.
In the past, in order to show the majesty of the lord of a castle and the difference between vassals’ different status ranks, the lord of a castle sat in "jodannoma (raised room)" higher than the floor, and the vassals sat in "gedannoma".
However, only the monarch had the right to sit in “jodannoma”, so it was necessary to find a way to show the difference between those courtiers’ status ranks. So “a level higher floor” with a super compact layout was designed in the room. And a standard was developed that people sitting closer to “jodannoma”, that is “tokonoma”, had a higher status rank. Even now, in the room, the side with tokonoma is called “kamiza”, which means “top seat”, and is prepared especially for important guests to sit.

  Fusuma

Fusuma is a type of tategu (fittings such as sliding doors, etc., furniture) used as a room divider, with the both sides of its wooden bony framework pasted with papers and cloth.  Castles and hotels with large washitsu can use fusuma to divide the room into two or several parts and partition the interior of the hall according to events and seasons, creating a space for a proper purpose. When we talk about a movable wall, we think of fusuma easily.

Fusuma is a type of tategu (fittings such as sliding doors, etc., furniture) used as a room divider, with the both sides of its wooden bony framework pasted with papers and cloth.
Castles and hotels with large washitsu can use fusuma to divide the room into two or several parts and partition the interior of the hall according to events and seasons, creating a space for a proper purpose. When we talk about a movable wall, we think of fusuma easily.

  Shoji

Shoji is used to divide the washitsu, too.
Strictly speaking, shoji includes fusuma, sudare (screens or blinds), folding screens, etc. For now, shoji refers to a kind of door consisting of translucent paper over a frame of wood. It’s mainly used to divide the washitsu and corridor.
With paper, shoji can block the sunlight outside, and at the same time let the gentler sunlight into the room. The shadows of the outside scenery and the people in the room are reflected in the shoji, creating an ambiguous atmosphere. Even the shoji couldn’t completely partition it. How Japanese-style it is!
In addition, there is also yukimi (snow-viewing) shoji which has the lower section made of glass, and nekoma shoji with a small window for cats to get in and out.

  Extra- Have you ever had any such experience?

When staying at a Japanese style hotel, there’s no bed in the room you checked in… But,   after enjoying delicious Japanese cuisine in the dining room of the hall, you found the room has become a bedroom!  In fact, a house with many rooms would use the washitsu as a study and a dining room according to different purposes.  However, for someone who lives alone or stays at a place like hotel, it is difficult to use a single room for multiple uses. In this case, you can change the way of using the room by the storage of the furniture and bedding! Maybe such “big change” is also a kind of Japanese style omotenashi?

When staying at a Japanese style hotel, there’s no bed in the room you checked in… But,
after enjoying delicious Japanese cuisine in the dining room of the hall, you found the room has become a bedroom!
In fact, a house with many rooms would use the washitsu as a study and a dining room according to different purposes.
However, for someone who lives alone or stays at a place like hotel, it is difficult to use a single room for multiple uses. In this case, you can change the way of using the room by the storage of the furniture and bedding!
Maybe such “big change” is also a kind of Japanese style omotenashi?

Please click here for the kyouel@MaDeLa's Article

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