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What Are the Different Types of Japanese Decor?

By Tara Barnett
Updated May 16, 2024
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Japanese decor comes in many forms, but most pieces bear simple designs and are fit for Japanese life. Furniture of Japanese design, particularly in traditional styles, is typically made of wood and fabric and is designed to fit in a Japanese-style home. Special decorative features, such as shoji screens and tatami mats, can be made for use in any type of home. In addition to these elements, there are also purely decorative items, such as prints and hanging decorations, that can be considered part of Japanese decor.

Many Japanese decor items are made of wood, as wood is a common material in Japan. Furniture like tables are often low to the ground, and floor pillows may be used as well. Futons, which are traditionally used as beds, are often available in a number of attractive Japanese patterns. The fabric used to cover the futon may differ highly depending on when the futon was made.

Special mats called tatami are often used as floor coverings and are an important part of Japanese decor. Shoji, which are used as room dividers and doors, are also often included in this category. These items can be difficult to install in Western houses, so modifications to the conventional construction are often used. Standing room dividers with painted Japanese designs, for example, are often made to look like traditional sliding doors.

There are also Japanese decor items that are purely decorative, including fans, paintings, and plants. These items evoke their Japanese origin through special motifs or through their physical construction. Japanese fabrics can be incorporated into a room's design as curtains or even fabric coverings for furniture. Lamps, candles, and other lighting elements in Japanese designs are also popular.

Some decorative items from Japan relate not to Japan's past but to its present, particularly to subcultures popular outside of Japan. For instance, there are many furniture items and decorative pieces relating to anime and other popular items of Japanese culture. These decorative items often take the form of posters or figurines, but it is also possible to find larger items or wallpaper with Japanese designs.

In addition to traditional Japanese decor items, there are fine art items from Japan that can be used as decoration. While traditional items may be the most closely associated with Japan, this country has a long and rich history of design leading up to the present day. Current designers are often influenced by the global trends in furniture design, although many draw on specific Japanese influences. These fine items can be considered part of Japanese decor as well.

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