How to Decorate a Japanese Room

Four Parts:Understanding washitsuPainting and wallsDecorating a Japanese-style bedroomMore Japanese-style ideas

Japanese traditional Zen philosophy inspires the simplistic, natural essence found in minimalist architecture and design. If you desire to have the beautiful pure aura of a Japanese-styled room, look no further! We'll provide everything you need to know... all you need is the elbow grease!

Part 1
Understanding washitsu

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    Get to know washitsu. Washitsu (和室) means a Japanese-styled-room(s). This is the traditional way of decorating a Japanese room. Most washitsu have tatami floors, and sliding doors (fusuma), rather than hinged doors.
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    Note that washitsu are, by tradition, minimalistic. This means that the room must remain simple, pure, uncluttered, and clean. To achieve this when preparing your Japanese-style room, stick to the basics, such as:
    • Using tatami floors
    • Placing a low table in the room, and sitting on a zabuton, or a low chair
    • Creating a tokonoma; an alcove for decorative items
    • Including a kotatsu, which is a particular type of low table that contains a heating element used in the wintertime. This is particularly important, as most Japanese homes do not have central heating.

Part 2
Painting and walls

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    Paint the walls in the room. Stick to the basic colors (it applies to the paint as much as to any item placed in the room). Suitable colors include:
    • White
    • Tan/light tan
    • Browns
    • Oranges
    • Reds.
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    Keep the colors muted. Calm colors are essential to ensure simplicity and clarity. Do not paint any color that may come across as vibrant or flashy. Keep it simple and pure.
    • Look for online and book images that show Japanese style rooms to get an idea of the color schemes used. If using an image engine, search for the term "Japanese bedrooms" to find inspiration and ideas.

Part 3
Decorating a Japanese-style bedroom

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    Add a bed. Traditional Japanese beds are usually low to the ground. Some are even in or on the ground. Beds are commonly set in the middle of the room, or the middle of the wall.
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    Choose suitable bed linen. When you're picking out your blankets, sheets and duvet covers, remember to choose only calming colors. White is the most commonly used, but tans and oranges (and even calm greens) are a nice touch.
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    Use futons. Futons (which are on the floor) always have that Japanese-y feel. Be aware that they can be a pain to clean though.
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    Keep the closet space Japanese style. Do you have a closet? You can put a shoji screen over it. This will cover the clutter, keeping it simple, and also looking beautiful.

Part 4
More Japanese-style ideas

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    Add decorative elements to the room. This is the fun part! Decoration is your way of expressing yourself and using the Japanese style is a beautiful opportunity to find interesting and calming pieces.
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    Add some living specimens. Simple plants; whether small or large, thick or thin, a few plants are a traditional part of decorating a Japanese-style room.
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    Spruce up the minimal coloring here and there. Hints of vibrant colors are beautiful and stand out against the calm colors used throughout the room. The only rule is to use these splashes of brighter color wisely. Consider a bright flower, colorful painting, candles, colorful lights (for example, fairy lights), etc.
    • Remember that black is not a bad color, when used in moderation.
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    Add lighting. For lighting, consider candles, lanterns, or a lamp. Don't overwhelm the room with these objects though. Decide where you want to put them, and how to get the best light using as few items as possible.
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    Include a screen or two. Shoji screens are very common and make a beautiful addition to any room. Put them on your windows or sliding doors, or even have them as a room divider.
    • Add some Japanese writing (Kanji, hiragana, katakana) for a cute touch.
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    Decide on either a desk or dresser in the one room. You can't have both and keep it simple at the same time.
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    Don't be afraid to add your own things. It is, after all, your room. Just because it's minimalist doesn't mean there's no room for any decoration/


  • The size of a washitsu is measured by the number of tatami mats, using the counter word jō (畳). Typical sizes are six or eight tatami mats in a private home. There are also half-sized mats, as in a 4.5 tatami room.
  • Walls shouldn't be seriously dark; more common colors for walls are whites or light browns.
  • Bamboo looks beautiful and is easy to grow.


  • Before adding Japanese writing, make sure you know what it says.
  • It is important to note that in the past, almost all Japanese rooms were washitsu. But nowadays, many Japanese houses have only one washitsu, which is sometimes used for entertaining guests, and most rooms are Western-style. Many newly constructed Japanese apartments do not have washitsu at all, instead using linoleum or hardwood floors.

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Categories: Home Decorating