Tokonoma

Last updated
A tokonoma with a hanging scroll and ikebana flower arrangement Kannonin Tottori16s4470.jpg
A tokonoma with a hanging scroll and ikebana flower arrangement
Detailed view of a tokonoma and aspects of a Japanese room Tokonoma (Chuang noJian ).jpg
Detailed view of a tokonoma and aspects of a Japanese room
View from the side of a tokonoma Murotsu Museum of Folklore08s5s4272.jpg
View from the side of a tokonoma
Tokonoma at Tenryu-ji Tenryuji Kyoto29s5s4200.jpg
Tokonoma at Tenryū-ji

A tokonoma (床の間), [1] or simply toko (), [2] [3] is a recessed space in a Japanese-style reception room, in which items for artistic appreciation are displayed. In English, a tokonoma could be called an alcove.

Contents

History

There are two theories about the predecessor of tokonoma: the first is that it derives from the room structure of the shinden-zukuri, which flourished in the Heian period (794–1185) and declined in the Muromachi period (1336–1573); the second is that it derives from the room structure of Zen monasteries in the Kamakura period (1185–1333). In the room of the monastery, there was a board called oshiita (押板) which displayed Buddhist altar fittings such as candlesticks, incense burners and vases. On the wall behind oshiita was a hanging scroll with a Buddhist theme. The second theory is that the oshiita and the back wall developed into a shoin-zukuri -style tokonoma in the Muromachi period. [4] [5]

In shoin-zukuri, an architectural style developed in the Muromachi period, tokonoma came to be used as room decoration, and the owner of the house sat in front of tokonoma decorated with various things to meet guests. However, in the case of important guests, the householder made them sit in front of the tokonoma to show modesty. [6]

Characteristics

The items typically displayed in a tokonoma are calligraphic or pictorial scrolls and an ikebana flower arrangement. Bonsai and okimono are also common—although traditionally, bonsai were not considered worthy for a place of such respect. The tokonoma and its contents are essential elements of traditional Japanese interior decoration. The kanji toko (床) literally means "floor" or "bed"; ma (間) means "space" or "room".

When seating guests in a Japanese-style room, the correct etiquette is to seat the most important guest closest to the tokonoma as this is in the location furthest from the entrance, a location called the kamiza. [7] Stepping within it is strictly forbidden, except to change the display, when a strict etiquette must be followed. [8]

The pillar on one side of the tokonoma, called toko-bashira (床柱), is usually made of wood, specially prepared for the purpose. It can range from a seemingly raw trunk with bark still attached, to a square piece of heart wood with very straight grain. The choice of toko-bashira determines the level of formality for the tokonoma.

American architect Frank Lloyd Wright was influenced by Japanese architecture. He translated the meaning of the tokonoma into its Western counterpart: the fireplace. [9] This gesture became more of a ceremonial core in his architecture.

See also

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Japanese tea ceremony</span> Traditional Japanese ceremony

The Japanese tea ceremony is a Japanese cultural activity involving the ceremonial preparation and presentation of matcha (抹茶), powdered green tea, the procedure of which is called temae (点前). While in Europe it is known as the "tea ceremony", it is seldom ceremonial in its practice. Most often tea is served to family, friends, and associates; religious and ceremonial connotations are overstated in European places. The English term "Teaism" was coined by Okakura Kakuzō to describe the unique worldview associated with Japanese tea ceremony, as opposed to focusing just on the ceremonial aspect, a perspective that many practitioners frown upon.

<i>Chashitsu</i> Japanese tea house

Chashitsu in Japanese tradition is an architectural space designed to be used for tea ceremony (chanoyu) gatherings.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Japanese architecture</span> Overview of the architecture in Japan

Japanese architecture has been typified by wooden structures, elevated slightly off the ground, with tiled or thatched roofs. Sliding doors (fusuma) and other traditional partitions were used in place of walls, allowing the internal configuration of a space to be customized for different occasions. People usually sat on cushions or otherwise on the floor, traditionally; chairs and high tables were not widely used until the 20th century. Since the 19th century, however, Japan has incorporated much of Western, modern, and post-modern architecture into construction and design, and is today a leader in cutting-edge architectural design and technology.

<i>Tatami</i> Straw mat used as flooring in Japan

A tatami (畳) is a type of mat used as a flooring material in traditional Japanese-style rooms. Tatami are made in standard sizes, twice as long as wide, about 0.9 metres (3') by 1.8 metres (6') depending on the region. In martial arts, tatami are the floor used for training in a dojo and for competition.

<i>Shinden-zukuri</i>

Shinden-zukuri (寝殿造) refers to an architectural style created in the Heian period (794-1185) in Japan and used mainly for palaces and residences of nobles.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Higashiyama culture</span> Japanese cultural period

The Higashiyama culture is a segment of Japanese culture that includes innovations in architecture, the visual arts and theatre during the late Muromachi period. It originated and was promoted in the 15th century by the shōgun Ashikaga Yoshimasa, after he retired to his villa in the eastern hills of capital city Kyoto.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Japanese tea utensils</span> Equipment and utensils used in Japanese tea ceremony

Tea utensils are the tools and utensils used in chadō, the art of Japanese tea.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Schools of Japanese tea</span>

"Schools of Japanese tea" refers to the various lines or "streams" of Japanese tea ceremony. The word "schools" here is an English rendering of the Japanese term 'ryūha' (流派).

<i>Minka</i> Japanese vernacular house

Minka are vernacular houses constructed in any one of several traditional Japanese building styles. In the context of the four divisions of society, Minka were the dwellings of farmers, artisans, and merchants. This connotation no longer exists in the modern Japanese language, and any traditional Japanese-style residence of appropriate age could be referred to as Minka.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Takeno Jōō</span>

Takeno Jōō was a master of the tea ceremony and a well-known merchant during the Sengoku period of the 16th century in Japan. His name has come down in Japanese cultural history because he followed Murata Jukō as an early proponent of wabi-cha, and was chanoyu teacher to Sen no Rikyū.

<i>Chabana</i> Flower arrangement displayed at a Japanese tea ceremony, and the plants used in it

Chabana is a generic term for the arrangement of flowers put together for display at a Japanese tea ceremony, and also for the wide variety of plants conventionally considered as appropriate material for such use, as witnessed by the existence of such encyclopedic publications as the Genshoku Chabana Daijiten [All-color encyclopedia of chabana]. The method of arranging the flowers is according to the nageire, or thrown in, style of flower arranging. In turn, nageire is recognized as a certain stylistic category of Kadō, the Japanese "Way of Flowers". These all developed from ikebana, which had its origin in early Buddhist flower offerings (kuge). Chabana, however, refers specifically to the flower display in the room or space for chadō, and though it fundamentally is a form of ikebana, it comprises a genre unto its own.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Nōami</span> Japanese artist (1397–1471)

Nōami was a dōbōshū in the service of the Ashikaga shogunate, an esteemed suiboku painter, renga poet and tate-bana flower artist. He was especially closely involved with the 6th shōgun Ashikaga Yoshinori and the 8th shōgun Ashikaga Yoshimasa. Nōami served the Ashikaga shogunate as the curator of the shogunate's collection of artworks known as the ‘Higashiyama Gomotsu’. An astute art connoisseur, Nōami collected and evaluated the imported artworks for the shogunate and developed elaborate guidelines for the display of artworks in shoin rooms such as the mannerisms for displaying hanging scrolls, ornamenting chigai-dana, displaying flowers and vases on alcoves, and displaying pieces on shoin writing desks. These guidelines are captured in the "Reference for the Display of Objects of Beauty" available from the National Diet Library Digital Collections. He served as an advisor in the ways of Japanese tea ceremony, kōdō (incense) and a variety of other elements related to the arts.

<i>Shoin</i> Audience hall in Japanese architecture

Shoin is a type of audience hall in Japanese architecture that was developed during the Muromachi period. The term originally meant a study and a place for lectures on the sūtra within a temple, but later it came to mean just a drawing room or study. From this room takes its name the shoin-zukuri style. In a shoin-zukuri building, the shoin is the zashiki, a tatami-room dedicated to the reception of guests.

<i>Shoin-zukuri</i> Style of Japanese architecture

Shoin-zukuri (書院造) is a style of Japanese residential architecture used in the mansions of the military, temple guest halls, and Zen abbot's quarters of the Muromachi (1336-1573), Azuchi–Momoyama (1568–1600) and Edo periods (1600–1868). It forms the basis of today's traditional-style Japanese house. Characteristics of the shoin-zukuri development were the incorporation of square posts and floors completely covered with tatami. The style takes its name from the shoin, a term that originally meant a study and a place for lectures on the sūtra within a temple, but which later came to mean just a drawing room or study.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Murata Jukō</span> Founder of the Japanese tea ceremony

Murata Jukō is known in Japanese cultural history as the founder of the Japanese tea ceremony, in that he was the early developer of the wabi-cha style of tea enjoyment employing native Japanese implements. His name may also be pronounced Murata Shukō.

<i>Sukiya-zukuri</i> Type of Japanese residential architectural style

Sukiya-zukuri (数寄屋造り) is one type of Japanese residential architectural style. Suki means refined, well cultivated taste and delight in elegant pursuits, and refers to enjoyment of the exquisitely performed tea ceremony.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Grand Kitano Tea Ceremony</span>

The Grand Kitano Tea Ceremony, also known in English as the Grand Kitano Tea Gathering, was a large Japanese tea ceremony event that was hosted by the regent and chancellor Toyotomi Hideyoshi at Kitano Tenmangū shrine in Kyoto on the first day of the tenth month in the year Tenshō 15 (1587). Japanese cultural historians view it as a major cultural event of the Momoyama period. Louise Cort points out these three reasons: The event was "a key move in Hideyoshi's strategy to prove his cultural legitimacy; a turning point in the development of chanoyu style and theory; and a crisis in the personal relationship between its chief designers, two of the most influential figures of the Momoyama period, Hideyoshi and Sen no Rikyū".

<i>Daisugi</i> Traditional Japanese forestry technique

Daisugi (台杉) is a Japanese technique related to pollarding, used on Cryptomeria trees. The term roughly translates to "platform cedar".

References

  1. Kenkyusha's New Japanese-English Dictionary, Kenkyusha Limited, ISBN   4-7674-2015-6
  2. Kōjien Japanese dictionary, entry for tokonoma.
  3. Genshoku Chadō Daijiten Japanese encyclopedia of Chanoyu. Iguchi Kaisen, et al., supv. eds. (Kyoto: Tankosha, 1986 10th ed.) entry for Toko.
  4. Tokonoma. Shinken press.
  5. Genshoku Chadō Daijiten Japanese encyclopedia of Chanoyu, entry for Toko
  6. Tokonoma. Kotobank
  7. Vardaman, James M. (1994). Japanese etiquette today : a guide to business & social customs (1st ed.). Rutland, Vt.: C.E. Tuttle. ISBN   1462902391.
  8. "What are the three rules in Washitsu?". Kai Japanese Room. 2024-01-30. Retrieved 2024-02-03.
  9. Nute, Kevin (1993). Frank Lloyd Wright and Japan. London: Chapman & Hall. p. 61

Further reading