Shoji screens are a traditional Japanese room divider which, interestingly enough, originated in China. While the Chinese created the original design of this classical room divider, the Japanese added the trademark rice paper which makes the screens actually "shoji." Shoji screens are now made with a wood frame lined with translucent rice paper, but centuries ago in Japan, the original shoji screens were made entirely of paper and relied on a complex system of folding that intrigued Westerners.
Modern shoji screens consist of a few basic elements. They are usually made from a few paper-lined wooden panels which are joined together by basic hinges. The iconic image of a shoji screen is one of light-colored, lightweight unfinished wood with many panes and white paper showing through.
However, contemporary makers of shoji screens have built on tradition by occasionally painting or staining the wood. Some even add features like shelves to the shoji screens to make them multi-functional.
The Many Uses of Shoji
Shoji screens, because they are lightweight and easy to move around, can be used in many different ways in a household. For example:
- Temporary Room Divider: When you're living with roommates, or if you have friends coming to stay, use a shoji screen to divide the room and give some privacy to each guest.
- Create a Romantic Nook: When making a nice dinner for that special someone, create a cozy area in the dining room or kitchen by placing a shoji screen around a small candlelit table.
- Create Storage in Small Spaces: Because they are easily movable and storable, shoji screens can be used to hide clutter, and then once the clutter is gone, the screen can be moved somewhere else in the house or put away.