A dictionary focused on Japanese architecture and interior design terminology. 


(last update: 2022/09/24)

Noren – 暖簾 (のれん)

Noren are traditional Japanese fabric dividers hung between rooms, on walls, in doorways, or in windows. They usually have one or more vertical slits cut from the bottom to nearly the top of the fabric, allowing for easier passage or viewing. Noren come in many different materials, sizes, colours, and patterns.

Machiya – 町屋 (まちや)

Machiya (町屋/町家) are traditional wooden townhouses found throughout Japan and typified in the historical capital of Kyoto.

Kyomachiya – 京町屋 (きょうまちや)

Machiya in Kyoto, sometimes called kyōmachiya (京町家/京町屋), formed the defining characteristic of downtown Kyoto architecture for centuries, representing the standard defining form of the machiya throughout the country.

The typical Kyoto machiya is a long wooden home with narrow street frontage, stretching deep into the city block and often containing one or more small courtyard gardens, known as tsuboniwa. Machiya incorporate earthen walls and baked tile roofs, and are typically one, one and a half or two stories high, occasionally stretching to three stories.

Nagaya – 長屋 (ながや)

Nagaya is a type of rowhouse, which was typical for Edo period in Japan. Nagaya was a long housing complex under the same ridge, one or two stories high, divided into small compartments for rent. The well, toilet and waste facilities were shared. Except for a bedroom, each household only had a kitchen.

Minka – 民家 (みんか)

Minka (Japanese: 民家, lit. “house of the people”) are houses constructed in any one of several traditional Japanese building styles. In the context of the four divisions of society, Minka were the dwellings of farmers, artisans, and merchants (i.e., the three non-samurai castes). This connotation no longer exists in the modern Japanese language, and any traditional Japanese-style residence of appropriate age could be referred to as Minka.



Mushi-Komado – 虫籠窓 (むしこまど)

Mushi-komado are latticed windows set in the upper part of the facade of the building that got their name from the cages used to keep insects. These windows are covered in a thick coat of plaster. 



Tsuchikabe (Mud wall) – 土壁 (つちかべ)

Also called komaikabe 小舞壁. A wattle and daub wall made of course mud plaster, ara-nuri 荒塗, usually mixed with straw. The daub is applied first to a framework of vertical and horizontal bamboo lath laced with rope *komai 小舞. Then, a middle or second coat of a finer mixture of daub *nakanuri 中塗り is applied. Finally, a top coat *uwanuri 上塗り of either smooth white plaster or one that has a sandy finish is applied. The surface color will differ depending on the material used. Sabikabe 錆壁 is earth colored, benikabe 紅壁 is a soft red color and jurakukabe 聚楽壁 is gray.

Koshikabe (Counter wall) – 腰壁 (こしかべ)

The wall that is below the kitchen or checkout counter.

Kakishibuzome (Persimmon dye) – 柿渋染め (かきしぶぞめ)

Kakishibu is a traditional dyeing method using the discoloration caused by oxidation of the fermented juice of unripened persimmon fruit containing strong tannin. It also reacts to sunlight, so the color changes slowly with time and sun exposure.

Naguri wood process (Naguri wall panel) – 名栗加工 (なぐりかこう)

Special woodwork made using a technique called ‘Naguri-Kakou’. This technique involves a special hammer called a chouna (ちょうな)which is used to scrape of wood and create a beautiful smooth curved checkered pattern. 

Zabuton – 座布団 (ざぶとん)

Flat floor cushion used when sitting or kneeling.



Japanese food library


(last update: 2022/09/24)

Monaka – 最中 (もなか)

Monaka is a Japanese sweet made of azuki bean paste sandwiched between two thin crisp wafers made from mochi.