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Japanese Interior Design, The Concept And Decorating Ideas

Japanese Interior Design, The Concept And Decorating Ideas

Japanese interior decorating arrived in the West during the mid 19th century when trade opened up between the west and east. Although it was known to the West during the 16th century, it wasn’t widely accepted at that time. It’s one of the key influences on minimalism and sets forth principles for creating a “zen” interior.

The key to the Japanese interior design concept is known as “Ma”. This concept aims at a balance between the available space that can be worked with and furniture and other objects. Ma is used to keep spaces clear and uncluttered, to help create a special and calm home for both the inhabitants and visitors.

A Brief Look At Japanese Interior Design


The Japanese concept of interior design is all about zen. Zen comes from the school of Mahayana Buddism and emphasizes the value of meditation and intuition. It encourages a peaceful simplicity surrounding the modest designs of the Japanese culture.

It’s influence is backed by thousands of years of Japanese architecture and interior design resulting in a clean and uncluttered style of living. Japanese interior decorating embraces balance, order, ancient customs and love for natural beauty.

If one looks at the ancient tea ceremonies and lifestyle of the Japanese culture there is and endearing quality to it that makes it worth replicating. It can be used to bring zen to any home and life. After all, we can all use peace and harmony in our homes and lives. It’s simplicity appeals across many cultures and borders. It can be beautiful to see the inspiration of Ma in the homes where it first blossomed.

Add Elements of Nature


The Japanese culture embraces a love and respect for nature. It’s felt that the best way to maintain a connection with the natural world is to bring nature to the home. Adding a traditional Japanese’s plant, such as bonsai and bamboo can help achieve a Japanese feel.

You can use any deep green plant though to achieve a similar effect. You may consider palm or orchid. However, flowers are not typical in the Japanese home so keep it simple, natural and green.

Consider Adding a Soaking Tub


A soaking tub is a small deep tub that usually has a small bench seat. Many of the health conscious in the East are seeking them out. Water elements are very important in Japanese interior design. Water sounds such as those from small indoor fountains encourage meditation and helps to calm us from everyday stress. The word Ofuro translates as a bath in English. It’s a tranquil tradition that could benefit those of us in the west.

Sliding Doors and Screens


Due to the high cost of homes in Japan they tend to be small by western standards. It also means that many people rent apartments instead of buying a home. It’s due to these factors that the Shoju is so important in Japanese interior design. A Shoji is an authentic Japanese screen. Unlike doors the shoji slides back and forth saving space that would be taken up by the swinging door.

Wood and Bamboo Elements


The Japanese culture is known for the use of wood throughout their homes. Many items such as walls, doors, screen grids, and frames are commonly made from wood. If you would like to try to incorporate wood into your home, some of the most common woods in the western world are maple, cypress, hemlock and red pine. Bamboo is also popular both in the east and west. It’s perfect for decorative purposes as seen in the image below.

The Japanese Entryway

In Japanese and entryway is called a genkan. This entry space is the area where visitors are greeted. It’s also where shoes are removed, and indoor slippers put on. It would be interesting to try to create such a space when using Japanese design concepts.

Japanese Decor


The biggest addition to most Japanese homes would be the shoji or some version of it. The pictures above gives some idea of the styles used. These screens are used to seperate living zones or to conceal an area. They can be found painted or plain depending on what you like. They can also be stationary of flexible. Look around and see what works best for you.



If trying to achieve a zen feeling you should choose colors from a neutral palette. Look around for colors in nature. Choose soft and muted tones. Chocolate, moss green, and black are all perfect for focus walls.



The best advice that I can give is to try and use a mid to low light level. Bright lights are often seen as a trigger to work not relax. The lower lighting levels will also give your home an authentic Japanese design feel.

Lights should be concealed if possible or diffused. This type of soft lighting helps create a soft and calming atmosphere to your home.



In the west, your best option will be timber or bamboo collections. The Japanese use tatami mats. If you want the feel of a traditional Japanese home, you can use a few of these for a more authentic look.

Give Your Home a Taste Of the Japanese Style


You don’t have to grow up in a traditional Japanese home to love it for its peaceful designs that are rooted in an ancient culture. You can achieve this style to mimic its clean, simple and minimalistic design throughout your home.

Just add natural wood elements, simple greenery, soft natural lighting, some modern furniture, water elements, a soaking tub, plush floor coverings, screens to create your meditation space. The colors should all be derived from nature. Adding all of this small changes can give your home a rich Japanese interior design that speaks of a traditional culture and a love of nature.

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