Topic 2 Unit 1: Expand

Watch the following videos to learn about Japanese houses.

Traditional Japanese house

In a traditional Japanese house, many of the ‘walls’ can be removed. The tiled roof is supported by stout wooden columns. The ‘walls’ consist of light panels that can slide in wooden runners. These panels come in three types.

しょうじ (sliding door) 


These are very light wooden panels covered in white paper, which is very translucent, but not transparent. The paper is usually replaced at the end of December each year. This has both a practical and symbolic significance. It represents a new start for the new year.


ふすま (sliding door) 


This is similar to shouji except that it is covered with a light cardboard-like material and usually has a painting on it. The painting could be very valuable as they are often hand painted by artists. They are not usually replaced and are indeed considered heirlooms in old houses. They are used for interior dividing walls only.

あまど (rain door) 

Literally a rain door. They are panels of wood (today they can be amde from light sheet metal) that are placed around the exterior of the house and are able to be locked at night.

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