Japanese culture is renowned for its unique take on combining old with new. So it's no surprise to come across a contemporary Japanese home with shoji walls and a quiet contemplative atmosphere. The project we will explore today is located in a town of just over 18,000 souls in the north-west of Japan. It has a rural outlook and just a scattering of neighbours. Privacy is not an immediate issue, so Yamagata based architectural firm Architecture Landscape have given the home floor-to-ceiling glass walls on one side to maximise the light. Let's go on a photo tour for all the details…
The single-level home has a very minimalist appearance and a distinctive Japanese aesthetic. There is a great deal of flexibility in the design. Although the appearance is strikingly modern, the essential usability of the home is typically Japanese. Two sides of the home have a wooden deck and the home can be entered from almost all of the sliding glass doors that cover this side.
Natural materials such as wood are very popular in Japanese homes. However, here in the dining room/living room and entrance, we have a ceiling design that is somewhat more showy than we might ordinarily expect in a minimalist home. The peaked roof is supported with exposed wooden ceiling beams with hidden ceiling lights that create a striking impression. Note the two styles of seating seen in this photo. In the foreground we have a western-style dining table and in the background there is a more traditional Japanese floor arrangement.
The white kitchen has a neutral, calming ambiance. There are handle-less wall mounted cupboards to create a clean, streamlined look. These provide lots of closed storage space so there's nothing left on display. Finally, see how the kitchen island has been designed with a raised section so as to hide the inevitable clutter of the preparation area from sight.
Adjacent to the main living area we have a traditional tatami room. Ordinarily, this kind of room is enclosed with sliding shoji doors. But here, it's permanently open. This makes it a very present part of everyday life in the home. It also ensures that the beauty of the shoji rice paper wall is a decorative element in the home as well. Keen eyed readers may have noticed that you can see this wall quite clearly from outside the home as well.
The shoji wall has a very modern design with a low set panel window. This style of window is very popular at the moment because it allows one to enjoy a view of the outside world and retain some sense of privacy. Quite simply, with this kind of window placement you're not likely to find yourself facing the neighbours. We should add that modern external shoji walls usually have a protective glass layer.
For our final view, we'll backtrack to the kitchen dining area. This side of the home may be enclosed by a traditional wall, but it also has a perfectly framed view of the natural surroundings. This ensures that nature is an ever-present element in the interior life of the home.
Come explore another natural wooden home here… A married couple's little wooden box home.