Methodology behind traditonal japanese house proportions
February 29, 2004 7:11 AM   Subscribe

I am working on a house project and feel it would benefit from the quietness and openness I've seen in traditional japanese houses. I understand that their proportions were based on the size of tatamis, both in plan and in section. Does anybody know where I can see a graphic explanation / example of this? A good online collection of traditional japanese interiors and gardens would be much welcome as well.

Actually, modern japanese interiors and gardens would probably be enlightening as well.
posted by signal to Home & Garden (6 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Not online, but this might be useful.
posted by dobbs at 8:55 AM on February 29, 2004

Though expensive, I believe this book is pretty much the gold-standard reference for this kind of thing (you can do a "search inside" on it to get some nuggets).

Traditional Japanese architecture was highly modular, and the modules weren't so much based on the tatami size as the tatami count. Traditionally there are 2 tatami sizes:one for eastern Japan, one for Western (slightly smaller in the east), plus a still-smaller size used in modern apartment-blocks (danchi), but they're all about 3' x 6'. There are only a few customary tatami counts, though: 4.5, 6, 8, and (I think) 15, and everything else about the room is pretty much derived from that.
posted by adamrice at 12:47 PM on February 29, 2004

A Japanese Touch for Your Home has some practical design ideas, and there is a "Japanese Touch For Your Garden" book on the same page. Marc Keane's Japanese Garden Design is a beautiful coffee table book that dives deep into the concepts. Prof Keane's other book "Simply Zen" might be helpful, and "Inner harmony of the Japanese House."

Warning: it's very easy for us Westerner's to appreciate, but counter-intuitive and very hard to live with the concept of removing (rather than adding) design elements in decorating.
posted by planetkyoto at 12:54 PM on February 29, 2004

Response by poster: Guess it's not clear from my post, but I am not looking for a book. Anybody have any online references?
posted by signal at 1:03 PM on February 29, 2004

This may be of some use to you, perhaps.

There's some lovely pictures here too. I had more, but lost them when my PC went kablooie last year.

I'd also love to get some more links on modern-trad NE Asian house design.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 9:06 PM on February 29, 2004

Stav, thanks for those links -- 'specially the first one. Nice resource. But sadly, Signal, I am a traditionalist when it comes to design references -- books or the real world. The thing about tatami proportions (and many of those recently trendy "feng-shui" rules are that they tend to be pretty universal. Today's architecture scene seems to have let the idea of a "well-proportioned room" fall by the way side.

Good luck with the house.
posted by Dick Paris at 10:21 AM on March 1, 2004

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