“The ancient Taoist scholar Laotse espoused that the true beauty of a room lay in the vacant space enclosed by the roof and walls, rather than the roof and walls themselves. He aspired to an aesthetic ideal of emptiness. True beauty could only be realized in the material world, he held, when it was stripped bare, with only the merest suggestion of color, pattern or texture. The mind, the imagination of the beholder should be allowed to complete the picture in the mood of the moment.” The Japanese House by Noboru Murata and Alexandra Black.
The theory of Japanese architecture and interiors revolve around the idea of what modern day architects would call the minimalist approach. Spaces are visually empty, yet have the atmosphere of wholeness, tranquility and spirituality. The structures made out of wood, bamboo and paper, provide a warm and cozy space. The walls are made, of sliding doors which open into Zen garden, transferring life from nature into the man-made space. Everything within a Japanese home is functional and purposeful.
The beds are not solid and elevated, but the contrary, Futons are the traditional Japanese bedding comprising of a padded mattress, called a shikibuton, a quilt, called a kakebuton, and a pillow filled with beans, called a makura, all of which is pulled out at night to sleep, Folded and stored in sliding door cupboards by day. Not only out of sight, but out of mind. There are small seasonal decorations used as a part of completing the minimalist aesthetic involved in Japanese design, the scroll in the living room alcove changed as the seasons change, the flower arrangement at the entrance marking the arrival spring, etc.
Material and Elements
A few of the materials used to build these spacious, beautiful and peaceful homes are comprised of:
Tatami, the floor covering which is weaved from straw forming matting. It is the key element of any Japanese house because of which the space is called home. The straw used to make Tatami is well suited to the climate of the region as it allows air circulation, and is very soft, warm and welcoming.
Bamboo, is a common feature of the Japanese house, it is used to make the fence around the house thus being the boundary and the connection between the outside and the inside. Thinner form of bamboo, the reed stick is used to make blind, the Japanese form of curtains. The material doesn’t only hold crafts value but also aesthetic value as it gives a smooth, glossy, satisfying surface and also stimulates the artistry of nature.
Paper, In the Japanese home, the play shadow, adds to its aesthetics as it lacks ornaments, making the shadows smooth and contrasting since it grasps walls in its cast.
Wood is perhaps the most precious and a beautiful material to use in building homes and for Japanese houses it is the pride of the home. Pine, Cedar and Cyprus trees are used as the raw wood, which is processed into elegant structures put together to construct fine building.
Stone is a silent part of the interior yet an equally important visual element in the exterior. Stones are used for the landscaping of gardens, for building pathways and in a bigger size could be a centerpiece for a fountain in the garden. When polishes stone has poetic qualities, since it shines in the light and reflect the dim lanterns at night.