Fusuma sliding doors

. Edo shokunin 江戸の職人 Edo craftsmen .

Fusuma - Daruma on a Sliding Door

Paintings of Zen Patriarchs on sliding doors
Temple Joho-Ji (Joohooji)
大雄山 正法寺  本堂正面襖絵
source : chikurin

The traditional Japanese house is a wonderful construction to adapt to the needs of its inhabitants and the changes of climate. With the use of sliding doors the four little rooms of my old farmhouse change into a big hall to entertain a lot of guests; the bedding disappears in a shelf (oshi-ire 押し入れ) closed with sliding doors and between the windows and the living room there is a small veranda which can be shut off with "sliding doors to view the moon" (tsukimi shooji 月見障子). This is a special type of doors, made of a wooden frame coverd with Japanese paper and with a glass panel at the bottom. This panel is covered with a set of smaller sliding panels which are again covered with Japanese paper and can be moved up to let you look out of the window and enjoy the autumn moon while sitting on the floor sipping ricewine. In this ingenious way the room keeps warm, outside is cold and you still can enjoy the moon.

The door type called "fusuma" is usually made of thick paper or wood panels. These large surfaces provide a superb canvas and gave rise to the most beautiful examples of the art of Japanese paintings. Pictures on Fusuma are also called "Pictures on movable walls" (shoohekiga 障壁画). Another name for fusuma is "Chinese Paper Sliding Door" (karakami shooji 唐紙障子). Fusuma are well adapted to the Japanese climate. When it is humid, they absorb moisture. On the other hand, when it is dry, they emit moisture to keep up a comfortable atmosphere.

In ancient times, Buddhist subjects formed the nucleus of Japanese paintings, but by the early 8th century, secular objects began to appear. Paintings on walls, doors and screens existed in Japan since the Nara period, but they show a strong influence of Chinese art. Truly Japanese-style paintings (yamato-e 大和絵) with motives of flowers and birds of the four seasons, court scenes and landscapes appear during the Heian period. In Japan, art was an integral part of architecture, and painting was considered of primary importance in filling the large panels and movable walls of the numerous rooms in temples, shrines, castles and mansions of the nobles and warriors.

In the late Muromachi period, the artist Kano Motonobu (Kanoo Motonobu 狩野元信1476-1559) introduced a combination of monochromatic Zen art with its strong ink brushstrokes with the more delicate lines, but vivid colors of the native Yamato-e. In the following Momoyama period his grandson, Kano Eitoku (Kanoo 狩野永徳1543-90) brought the style fo full frutition. The sliding doors and screens of this era are mostly executed on a gold foil background and they are considered the golden age of Japanese painting.

The most famous pictures on sliding doors are to be found in the great temples and mansions. The subject had to match the purpose of the room and the mood of the owner. Therefore many temples feature a Daruma picture on the sliding door, but unfortunately I could not find them on the Internet.
If someone can provide a quotation, please do so.

. Kano Eitoku 狩野 永徳 .
. Kano Motonobu 狩野元信 Kanō Motonobu .
Artist name : Kohoogen, Kohōgen こほうげん (古法眼)

. Kano Kazunobu 狩野 一信 .
1816 - 1863


CLICK for more English illustrations
. . . CLICK here for Photos !

Fusuma, the facts at JAANUS


Genjibusuma 源氏ふすま Genji Fusuma
a papered sliding door with a dormer

CLICK for more photos !

. Genji Monogatari  源氏物語 The Tale of Genji .


The temple Ichijoo-In 一乗院 on Mt. Koya features with picutres of the Kanoo School (Kanoo-ha 狩野派).

CLICK for more photos



The famous Golden Temple Kinkaku-ji in Kyoto 金閣寺。
. . . CLICK here for Photos !


The Rinzai Zen-Temple Zuigan-ji in Matsushima close to Sendai.

This long HP has many beautiful paintings.


Temple Hootoku-ji in Iwate prefecture 宝徳寺
. . . CLICK here for Photos !


CLICK on the thumbnails for many more photos !

Finally, let us have a look at two of my sliding doors.
Photos TBA

They come with the following story from the painter friend:
"I was very sick a while ago and prayed a lot to get better. Now I am well again and full of gratitude. So I started to write the Heart Sutra and paint Daruma san, starting with small pictures and now doing large ones. Since you like Daruma san too, I give you some of my work for your new Daruma Hall!"

They are paintings, but we had them mounted on the sliding doors to give them more space. There is one on each side of the partition. The Chinese characters on the one with the sutra read "Heart of Buddha" (busshin 佛心), the others are a famous Zen word from the Chinese Zen Master Wu-Men (Mumon 無門).
"Every Day is a Good Day" (nichinichi kore koonichi 日々是好日).

. Every Day is a Good Day .

In Zen you do not fret about things that are over and you do not worry about things to happen in the future. Just experience the moment, be it full of pleasure or full of sorrow, do not judge its quality but experience it to the fullest. Then every day will be a "Good Day", may it be rain or storm or sunshine.
Here is a quotation to help you solve your Koan Problem.

"When you are assigned a koan by your meditation instructor, such as, "What is the sound of one hand clapping?" or "Why did Bodhidharma come from the west?" you have to ask yourself, "What does this have to do with my real suffering - my depression, my fear, or my anger?" If it does not have anything to do with these real problems, it may not be a path you need. It may be just an escape. Practice you koan in a way that your suffering is transformed". Lama Surya Das (1997) gained insight from his elderly Zen master about the use of the koan. The elderly master stated, "We all have to solve it in our own way; how we live our lives day by day and what we do depends ultimately on ourselves."


Please continue to read the story about folding screens, Byobu, to learn more about art and Japanese homes.

Byoobu and Tsuitate - Daruma on a Screen 屏風, 衝立とだるま.


. Edo shokunin 江戸の職人 Edo craftsmen .

tateguya 建具屋 making doors and sliding doors
interior finishing carpenters

source : edoichiba.jp.tategusi...

They make shōji 障子, ranma 欄間 and many wooden decorations for windows and partitions.



kigo for all winter

CLICK for more photos

. Sliding doors between the rooms, fusuma 襖 ふすま
winter doors, fuyu fusuma 冬襖
fusumagami 襖紙(ふすまがみ)washi Japanese paper for fusuma
karakami 唐紙(からかみ)special paper for sliding doors
ebusuma 絵襖(えぶすま)fusuma with paintings
shirobusuma 白襖(しろぶすま)white sliding door
fusumashooji 襖障子(ふすましょうじ)fusuma sliding doors

karakami shooji 唐紙障子(からかみしょうじ)fusuma with karakami colored paper
. . . CLICK here for Photos !


kigo for all summer

fusuma hazusu 襖はずす (ふすまはずす )
taking the fusuma away

kazatooshi 風通し(かざとおし)"letting the wind in"
kazatoori 風通り(かざとおり) "letting the wind pass through"

Especially in the machiya merchant homes of Kyoto the preparations for summer and winter were quite necessary to keept the rooms cool in summer.


kigo for mid-autumn

. shooji arau 障子洗う (しょうじあらう )
to wash the sliding doors
shooji fusuma o ireru 障子襖を入れる (しょうじふすまをいれる)
to put in sliding doors between the tatami rooms
and many more kigo.


- quote
Edo Karakami 江戸からかみ
Hand-Made Patterned Paper for Interiors

Traditional Technologies and Techniques
There are four techniques used by the karakami craftsman:

1- Hikizome 引き染め (brush dyeing):
① Iro-gubiki 色具引き (undercoat application):
A brush that has been soaked in pigment is drawn across the paper.
② Bokashizome ぼかし染め (shade dyeing):
A single brush that includes color which has been gradated by water is drawn across the paper to create a shading effect.
③ Chojihiki 丁子引き (striped-pattern dyeing): A brush with bristles intermittently removed to achieve a comb-like effect is used to create choji (stripe) patterns on the surface of the paper.

2- Application of mica (kirabiki 雲母引き) through hand-rubbing:
Although mica is sometimes applied simply when rubbed in by hand, in most cases pigment or gold/silver paint is applied in two layers. Following rubbing in by hand, the paper is stretched out and dosa どうさ (a protective "sizing" glaze) is applied to the surface.

3- Mica pattern application using a woodblock 木版雲母摺り:
Mica 雲母(きら) and gofun 胡粉 (crushed seashells) are passed through a screen membrane onto a pattern-carved woodblock, and paper is then placed over the woodblock and rubbed gently. Gold/silver flakes are then sprinkled over the paper that has had paste applied to it, and after drying, the excess flakes are removed and a dosa glaze is applied to the surface of the paper.

There are five techniques used by the craftsman who applies decorative powders:
1- Haku-chirashi 箔散らし (flake sprinkling):
A special tube-shaped tool used for sprinkling flakes (a tube made of bamboo with strings stretched over the end), and a tool similar to chopsticks called hakuhashi 箔箸 are skillfully utilized to sprinkle gold /silver flakes over the surface of the paper.
2- Sunago-maki 砂子まき (sunago powder sprinkling):
Flakes reduced to a fine powder are inserted into a special tube-shaped tool (a tube made of bamboo with a fine mesh of copper wires over the end). The powder is repeatedly sprinkled over the surface by shaking the tube.
3- Deibiki 泥引き (paint application):
Gold/Silver paint is applied to one end of a brush, and then the brush is drawn across the paper lengthwise along a ruler with one side of the brush elevated.
4- Migakidashi 磨き出し (pattern rubbing):
A pre-patterned woodblock is placed below washi (traditional Japanese paper) that has undergone the deibiki process. The painted portions of the paper are then rubbed from above using a boar's tusk. This causes the painted portions to physically rise up.
5- Picture painting/drawing: 描絵(かきえ)
A traditional nihonga 日本画 (Japanese painting) or sumi-e 水墨画 (ink painting) is added for decorative effect.

There are two techniques used by the craftsman who does cotton printing (calico printing):
Print-type textile dyeing:
nassenzuri 捺染摺り(なっせんずり)
1- Monochrome printing: 単色摺り
Pattern paper treated with astringent persimmon juice is placed on top of washi (traditional Japanese paper) and pigment and/or dye is used to print designs.
2- Multicolor printing: 多色摺り
A number of sheets of pattern paper treated with astringent persimmon juice (5 to 7 sheets) are used to print colors one at a time until the intended design is complete.

Traditionally Used Raw Materials
Washi (traditional Japanese paper), textiles, mica, gofun (crushed seashells), pigments, dosa (sizing glaze), nikawasui paste (glue), gold flakes, adhesives (funori seaweed glue, shofunori wheat starch paste and konnyaku glue)

History and Characteristics
Edo Karakami is patterned traditional Japanese paper that is affixed to fusuma sliding doors and folding screens, etc., for decorative purposes. Woodblock printing using pre-patterned blocks, Ise-Katagami 伊勢型紙 stencil printing, hikizome brush dyeing, hand-sprinkling of sunago decorative powders 砂子手蒔き, and a wide range of other techniques are employed when making Edo Karakami.

Karakami patterned paper was introduced from China to Japan during the Heian Period (approx. 794-1185) and Japanese craftsmen subsequently imitated Chinese karakami using washi (traditional Japanese paper) as a base. Karakami was mainly produced early on in Kyoto as paper for writing waka (classical Japanese poetry).

During Japan's medieval period, people began to use karakami for decorating fusuma, hanging scrolls and the like, and during the Edo Period (1603-1868) many karakami craftsmen in Edo began to make products that could be used in such decorative roles.

In contrast to Kyo Karakami (Kyoto-style karakami 京からかみ), which focuses almost exclusively on woodblock printing, Edo Karakami is unique in its use of woodblock printing as a base along with print-type textile dyeing using patterned paper, brushwork and a variety of other techniques.

Many Edo Karakami works in the past were free-spirited and stylish, reflecting the tastes of the samurai classes and townspeople. Although some works were damaged by war or fire, craftsmen restored them on each occasion. Thus, Edo Karakami continues to provide both color and a sense of repose in people's lives even today.

Edo Karakami Cooperative Association
- source : www.sangyo-rodo.metro.tokyo.jp ...


- quote -
Edo karakami paper is a government-designated traditional craft made by adding designs and decorations to washi, Japanese handmade paper. As the name implies, it was developed in Edo (today’s Tokyo), and reflects a townspeople’s culture established by craftsmen and merchants who worked in the city during the Edo Period (1603-1868). The craft features free and fluid designs, many depicting familiar objects and scenes from daily life at the time, as well as natural subjects that give a rich sense of the seasons.

The origins of Edo karakami can be traced back to the Heian Period (794-1185), when patterned mon-toshi paper was introduced from Tang dynasty China. This paper was used as a model for the first karakami paper, which was handmade using wooden blocks engraved with designs and decorative materials such as mica powder or gofun, a whitewash made from ground shells. At first, this paper was used as eiso – paper for transcribing poetry, such as short tanka poems or haikai linked verse – but as time passed, its use spread to wallpaper, byobu room partitions, fusuma heavy sliding doors and shoji, traditional light-weight sliding doors with translucent paper screens.

As the city of Edo grew under the Tokugawa government, both demand and uses for karakami paper expanded. As need for the paper increased, the various decorating techniques and designs of Edo karakami came into being, developing into the unique and original forms that came to distinguish the art.

There are two key traditions of Edo karakami decoration, each building off an ancient style. One is a technique that embellishes works such as Buddhist scriptures with gold and silver powders, used since the Nara (710-794) and Heian Periods (794-1185). The masterpiece of this style is known as the Heike Nokyo, a series of 33 Buddhist scrolls dedicated to Hiroshima’s Itsukushima Shrine in the hope of bringing prosperity to the Heike clan. The other technique is that of ryoshi writing paper decoration, which centers around a wooden karakami block that adds decorations to eiso paper. Its masterpiece is said to be the Nishi-Honganji Collection of Thirty-six Anthologies (Nishi-Honganji-bon Sanju-rokunin-kashu), a collection of the work of 36 waka poets assembled at the end of the Heian Period .

Today, the traditional decoration techniques of Edo karakami are still passed on even as they continue to evolve. There are many galleries that display this traditional craft in Tokyo, offering plentiful opportunities to examine its beautiful forms firsthand.
- source : japan-brand.jnto.go.jp/crafts/paper ... -


amado 雨戸 "rain door"
exterior sliding door, to keep out the cold and rain and protect the glass windows during a typhoon.
They are traditionally made out of wood and pulled back during the daytime in a special box at the side of the house. When in place at night they have a special lock at the inside to keep burglars from opening them.

Modern plastic versions with insulation are also available.


hikite 引き手, 引手 catch to open the fusuma door
They can be made from simple wood or highly decorated metal.

MORE samples
source : nkmr/SHIPPOU

These hikite can be works of art in themselves.

MORE samples
source : fusuma.jp/design


CLICK for more samples !


. Sliding Doors with Dragon paintings .




anonymous said...

fusuma-e no kobune ga isogu aki no kure

Chizuko Kajiyama 梶山千鶴子

in a fusuma screen
a tiny boat hurries
autumn dusk

Tr. Fay Aoyagi

Gabi Greve - Darumapedia said...

35 Edo Karakami (Hand-Made Patterned Paper for Interiors)

Gabi Greve - Darumapedia said...

kami 紙 paper
and its use in Edo

Gabi Greve - Darumapedia said...

Interior Design - The Japanese Home

Japanese Aesthetics エスセティクス - Nihon no bigaku 日本の美学

Gabi Greve said...

nekoma shoji "with a space for the cat"

- quote JAANUS -
nekoma shouji 猫間障子 / Also *magoshouji 孫障子.
A small sliding panel set within a standard size screen *shouji 障子that slides left and right or up and down to allow light and air into a room.
Single or double sliding panels are used and can be opened from both sides of the shouji. Those which slide on thin, grooved head jambs and thresholds, either single or double panels, are called
oosaka nekoma shouji 大阪猫間障子.
Before the late 19c, nekoma shouji were used in place of glass.

Gabi Greve - Darumapedia said...

Nobusuma 野衾 (のぶすま)"wild quilt", "wild blanket"
Yokai squirrel, Yokai bat
Sometimes depicted as a flying squirrel, sometimes as a bat.

Gabi Greve said...

Legend from Nagano
小諸市 Komoro city

yuurei 幽霊 a ghost
This is a tale about the head priest of the Buddhist temple 玄江院 Genko-In, many generations ago.
One evening when the priest opened the shooji 障子 paper sliding doors, he saw someone leaning his shoulder on the door. When he asked who it was, the person disappeared.
The next morning he got the message that a person had drowned that night in the river 千曲川 Chikumagawa and he must have seen its ghost.
and more than 80 legends to collect

Gabi Greve said...

Legend from Iwate, 奥州市 Oshu City
. hebi 蛇と伝説 Legends about snakes and serpents .
In the year 1877, there was a family working as teachers of a terakoya 寺子屋 temple school. Every night they saw the shadow of a young boy on the shooji 障子 paper sliding doors. It was hebi 蛇 a serpent that had come to tempt the woman of the family.