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Terry Gribbin
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Modern houses in Japan: Architecture guide

by Terry Gribbin 11/10/2022

When asked to describe modern houses in Japan, many might struggle to come up with an answer. This is partially because Japanese modern architecture is just as varied and diverse as it is elsewhere in the world, while still maintaining many familiar traditional characteristics.

To help you learn more about both traditional and modern Japanese architecture, here is a quick guide with the basics:

Traditional & modern Japanese house characteristics

Traditional Japanese homes, referred to as minkas, are often what people think of as the quintessentially Japanese style house. These include wooden verandas, tatami flooring and sliding doors around the entire house. The traditional Japanese house floor plan is largely open and airy, utilizing natural light while still maintaining a simple aesthetic.

The hallmark wrap-around veranda, or engawa, serves to provide a primary way to get to and from the residence from all directions. Shoji screen doors - wooden lattices framed with thin paper or cloth - are another key feature of traditional Japanese architecture.

Efficiency, functionality & connection with nature

While modern Japanese houses have incredible variation in features, the prevailing Japanese design can be characterized in common terms as “form follows functionality.” Japanese houses are highly efficient in use of space and integration with the natural world.

Screens, large windows, natural building materials and a blend of indoor and outdoor living space are all present in all Japanese architecture. Exclusively modern additions like energy efficient window shutters, integrated smart lighting, glass sliding doors and space-saving home appliances combine effortlessly with traditional elements to create a truly varied and unique style of home.

Are you interested in building or buying a Japanese style house? While the variety present in modern Japanese housing might be difficult to pin down, the dedication to the traditional Japanese home design continues to capture the architectural imagination.

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