The Japanese home we will explore today is both modern and traditional. To understand this beautiful fusion of influences, it helps to consider the place of tradition in modern Japanese society. This is a country where people may wear a modern suit during the week and traditional garb at the weekend. The past is never replaced by the new – instead, the two influences co-exist in perfect harmony. Of course, there are plenty of commonalities that link the two styles. Both are known for their restrained aesthetic, unbroken lines of sight and neutral colour schemes. So the architects Xinming have teamed a large and simple cream white interior with a profusion of natural wood finishes. But there are also a few unique features from each style. It's better to explain in photos, so come with us on a photo tour to learn more…
The single-level home is constructed with raw concrete blocks that give it a modern feel. But it also has a slightly sloping roof with traditional roof tiles that really defines the traditional look of the home. This gives it an ambience of cosy warmth. The facade also affords the occupants a great deal of privacy. The front windows open onto internal courtyards with high walls that shield the internal areas from sight. The entrance is also shielded by a series of wooden panels. Finally, the wooden elements have been slightly set apart to allow natural light to enter the home.
The entrance leads to a hallway with a very unusual curved concrete wall. The unpolished concrete wall shows off the ruts and variations of the raw material. These textures are further emphasised by the use of downlights set close to the edge. Also, note the tiny wooden bench in the background. This is a traditional-style entrance feature in many Japanese homes.
The home has a combined living, dining and kitchen area with a fairly modern layout. But the prevalent use of cream white and two different types of wood really define this as a Japanese-style interior. On the left we have a modern large opening and on the right is a traditional tatami room. We will explore this later. Traditional Japanese homes often have just a few furnishings that can be packed away when not in use. Here, we can catch a glimpse of a western style dining table.
The white kitchen has been executed with an exceedingly minimalist approach. On the left we presume there is additional work space, so here we just have a simple stove-top, sink and open shelves. The kitchen is so simple and visually cohesive that the white countertop has been extended to create a built-in dining table. This simplicity is a big part of the traditional Japanese aesthetic. Another important aspect is humility. In these homes, space and light are often the most important elements. See how the broad stroke of the recessed ceiling light really claims dominance here.
The living room has just a low-set coffee table and some built-in bench style seating. It's common to use low cushions in traditional homes. This room also features both low-set and high-set window panels. These helps the occupants enjoy lots of privacy without sacrificing natural light. Also, see how the recessed ceiling lights have been installed in a rather closely set grid. These help focus the light and give the home a cosy ambience. They also allow the architects to retain that streamlined, unfussy and minimalist look that's so important in a minimalist interior.
The home has a Japanese-style room known as a tatami room or washitsu. These rooms should never be entered while wearing shoes or even socks. They have floor mats that are commonly made of compressed wood and are used for various purposes. While they were once screened off from the rest of the home with sliding doors made from rice paper, this home has internal wooden doors with an opaque quality.
For more Japanese inspiration, check out this stunningly understated abode: A simple 37sqm Japanese home.