Japanese Traditional Architecture

XcelTrip|3 min read|Apr 25, 2019

Complexity and minimalism are two key features of a traditional Japanese home. This article attempts to understand this how these polar opposite concepts work together to create beautiful architectural marvels.  Japanese traditional marvels that this article is based on are from the Edo period. During this period, the dwellings were influenced heavily by Chinese and other Asian thought.  After the mid-19th century, however, Japanese architecture is known to have taken inspiration from the west. Let’s look at some of the most essential elements of Japanese traditional architecture, that are constant throughout most of their buildings:


Typically made of straws made of rice with a covering of a soft rush straw. These Tatami mats are a big part of the flooring- these mats provide for a soft surface for sleeping and sitting. The mats remain popular in Japan even today, these mats have subtle scent to them, that blends well with the scent of the wood- this unique blend is archetypal to traditional Japanese homes.


This particular feature of the Japanese home is one that can be seen even today. This sunken space between lies between the living area and the front door where the footwear is kept. This spot of the house is considered dirty and it actually is. It is a practical way of keeping the house clean. Many animes do show this area of the house.


This is one of the most important parts of the traditional Japanese house is the veranda that runs around the house. Engawa is an outside corridor. These are essentially used to sit and look out into the garden.

Sliding Doors

Old traditional Japanese architecture consisted of fusuma that allowed the division of the living spaces. Since glass windows were not a feature heavier sliding doors were used to shut out the outside. Sliding doors are still used in houses today and are getting popular in the West.


The main feature of the Japanese home is wood, most homes in Japan even today seem be made of wood, due to earthquakes, to prevent heavy damage.

Aside from these elements, the Japanese have a deep connection with nature. The Buddhist and Shinto traditions have inspired the architecture of Japan greatly.  Houses here were built around nature to keep natural energy flowing throughout the house.

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