Japanese minimalism, or less is more

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Eastern culture attracts by its mysterious originality and closeness to nature. Every line of oriental art differs significantly from that of Europe. One of the most interesting Japanese concepts is minimalism. Would you like to learn more about it? We invite you to read the article.

Empty space as the basis of Japanese minimalism

One of the most important features of Japanese architecture, both traditional and modern, is the presence of a lot of empty space. The attitude to emptiness in the West and the East differs significantly, but contemporary styles of world architecture actively use the concept of emptiness, for example in minimalism and postmodernism. Emptiness in contemporary Japanese minimalism is associated with ancient religious and Zen ideas. It is sacred and therefore endowed with meaning. The Japanese have a special relationship to nature and to emptiness, associated with the divinization of rivers, mountains, animals and plants.

In Japanese architecture this is manifested in the fact that the Japanese are not afraid of empty spaces and are sparing in buying new things. Emptiness prevails both inside and outside. In the Japanese home, the emphasis on individual works of art shaped the space of the room and had a special philosophical meaning that the master of the house wanted to emphasize. During the feudal period, the idea of the beauty of empty space emerged. It spread not only in architecture but also in literature and painting, thus influencing the lifestyle of the Japanese. Having many things and saying many words were considered tasteless.

Japan’s unique culture

The originality of Japanese culture was formed since the 17th century, a period when foreigners were banned from visiting the island. This lasted as long as two hundred years. The worldview of the Japanese has been most influenced by the unique climatic conditions, natural disasters and terrain. They see nature as a living being and wish to constantly express their admiration for its beauty

The philosophy, harsh climatic conditions and religion of the Land of the Cherry Blossom have shaped such concepts as:

  • Wabi – conscious simplicity and rationality,
  • Sabi – sadness,
  • Jimi – obedience to fate.

Therefore, the tradition of Japanese culture is based on three pillars: harmony, simplicity of form and practicality. These important elements had a huge impact on the specific approach of the Japanese to the organization of living space. Today we call it minimalism.

Its essence is perfectly illustrated by a certain Japanese proverb: “The beauty of a flower is in one flower”.

Japanese minimalism

Japan came to minimalism not only in pursuit of aesthetics, but it was the result of national characteristics and life in a rather capricious climate, with the constant threat of earthquakes. Hence in Japanese apartments you can admire graceful and light sliding door-partitions made of paper and bamboo. The buildings are light and open. The Japanese house is often part of a garden, so the landscape has always been and remains a traditional continuation of the interior. Daylight was the main source of illumination in the home, so the Japanese had a particular approach to lamps, which should give a weak, dull light. The “Japanese lamp”, which is now popular among Europeans and is a structure made of paper and a metal frame, is used not so much for illumination as for emphasizing twilight

In a small and overcrowded country, space is especially valued, so the interior design of a place is usually minimalist. The absence of unnecessary items is a basic principle of minimalism. The Japanese prefer to derive aesthetic pleasure by focusing on a single object, rather than superficially browsing through a collection of trinkets. To decorate your home in Japanese style, you should not try to copy the traditional Japanese home. The features of the oriental interior in the conditions of our reality may be uncomfortable and inappropriate. If you comprehend the characteristic features of Japanese interior and choose the most acceptable ones for yourself, the result can be interesting and unusual. Many current interior designers are drawing handfuls of opportunities offered by the remarkable simplicity of Japanese minimalism.

Photo by Bagus Pangestu/Pexels

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