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Put the Traditional Noren Behind the Curtains

A noren is a rectangular Japanese curtain, with vertical slits going from near the top down to the bottom for easy access and viewing. Norens are split down the middle so people can easily go through them. These curtains are usually used and hung in the following ways:

  • Entrances to shops, restaurants, and onsens (public baths). In an onsen, a blue noren meant entrance for men and red for women.
  • Walls
  • Doors and windows

The function of a noren for a business

A noren has become an integral part of businesses that a noren go furui (an old noren) would mean that the shop has a very god reputation, while a noren ni kizu go tusita (a stained noren) means a shop is not faring so well. Here are some functions of a noren for an establishment:

  • It indicates that a shop is already open for business or not. At the end of each business day, it is taken down.
  • It serves as an advertisement or promotion of a business.
  • It serves to keep out the dust and dirt from entering the establishment.
  • It blocks the glare of the sun and gives shade.
  • It provides passersby a glimpse of what’s inside the shop.
  • It provides privacy.

The function of a noren for a private home

Zen principles are applied to every aspect of Japanese life, and this includes home décor. Japanese décor is all about minimalism, and relies more on atmosphere than furniture. Sliding doors, rice paper lanterns, tatami mats, shoji screens, and futons all evoke a stark simplicity that Japanese décor is known for. Simple and sparse furnishings are preferred, neutral color schemes and natural materials are used. All of the things serve to create a tranquil, harmonious, and calming environment free of clutter.

In Japan, most of the things have a function but can be used as a décor as well. Among these is a noren.While norens are traditionally used for shops, these things are so versatile that their use has evolved through the passage of time. These are now used in modern-day Japanese homes. Here are some ideas on how to use them in your home:

  • It partitions a room by dividing a large living space into smaller sections.
  • It serves as a décor for doorways and walls.
  • It serves as a curtain for windows.
  • It serves to conceal shelves and closets.

The design of a noren

The traditional design of a noren is composed of blue and white colors. Today, norens have different design elements incorporated into them and they come in different sizes, colors, patterns, and materials. Some have Japanese cultural icons such as geishas, temples, and cherry blossoms. Some have Zen religious themes such as the ensō, a circular brush stroke which in Zen Buddhism means enlightenment. Another typical design for norens would be delicate ink paintings depicting nature – such as flowers, forms of water, and mountains. When used as a form of advertisement, these norens would simply indicate the name or the logo of the shop or restaurant.

Norens are the best way to fully complement a Japanese-inspired house. You can put it on a doorway, hang it on your wall, or hide clutter from a shelf. Because of its many uses, a Japanese house or business is incomplete without a noren.