TOPMachiya & Kyoto GuideAll About Machiya‘Shoji’ Japanese windows & doors

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'Shoji' Japanese windows & doors - Traditional Japanese Townhouse Features

A view of a tsuboniwa courtyard garden, hides behind traditional Japanese ‘shoji’ doors.

Prior to the invention of shoji doors (wooden-framed doors covered by delicate, translucent paper), Japanese homes were designed with ‘shitomi’ doors and ‘mairado’ doors. ‘Shitomi’ doors were wooden, square-lattice doors that acted more like shutters, but unfortunately did not prevent wind and rain from entering indoors. On the other hand, ‘mairado’ were heavy wooden sliding doors that offered protection from the elements, but did not allow light to enter the room.

It was not until the Heian Period (794 – 1185) that the first design of the shoji doors appeared. These shoji doors were revolutionary, as it allowed the perfect amount of natural light to enter the room. In addition, when used in combination with the ‘mairado’ doors, it provided protection from wind, rain, insects, and more from entering indoors.

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