3 things you need to know about Shōji, this famous Japanese paper room divider

22 Sep 2016 in So Design

You must have seen them before, perhaps you have even touched them. Shōji, those transparent paper room dividers are an integral part of Japanese interiors. Here are three things you need to know about these very famous panels.

Japanese lake

1 – The term Shōji refers  to the transparent wood and paper screens that divide the different areas in Japanese homes. Washi paper, which is used in wooden frames, is translucent and naturally resistant, with a specific thinness that allows just the right amount of light to go through. By choosing fiber direction of the washi paper at manufacturing, these panels can brilliantly control privacy or reflection of the rooms inside the house. It’s also suitable for indoor lighting providing a remarkable relaxing atmosphere.

Shoji paper design

Riace paper decoration

2 – Washi paper, which is essential to shōji, has been part of the UNESCO intangible world heritage since November 2014. It is made from fibres extracted from mulberry bark, and its manufacture requires both skill and savoir-faire. The fibres are beaten into a pulp. After adding mucilage* – neri – and water, the mixture yields a whitish viscous paste that craftsmen collect with a sieve frame. They then cover this sieve with a thin film of paste using a succession of precise movements and deposit it on a work surface to dry. The resulting paper is then attached to a wooden frame that will become the wall with starch containing glue.

Japanese door design

Hoshino Resorts KAI Nikko

3 – Hoshino Resorts KAI Nikko rooms place these partition panels facing bay windows to diffuse the light throughout the room, providing an incredibly refined atmosphere in the evening. In addition to its resistance shōji also provide natural ventilation to the room, allowing it to breathe…

* substance commonly found in flax seeds, lichen, and algae, which expands upon contact with water, forming a viscous paste.

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