Japanese Sliding Doors: A Primer
Exterior Doors Amado. Amado ("rain doors") are the exterior sliding doors of traditional Japanese houses. Before glass became widely available during the Meiji period (1868-1912), they were made of solid wood. Solid wood amado are rare today, even in old farmhouses. Like the doors on right side in this picture, today’s amado contain glass panes that let in natural light. Amado with clear glass also provide welcome views of the outdoors.
Interior DoorsShoji. This tatami room is a zashiki, a formal reception room used by guests. Although the tatami and plaster-and-wood walls are traditional, the shoji at left are modern, with much larger panes than usual. The panes are also made of translucent fiberglass rather than the traditional rice paper, which is easily punctured by fingers. The checkerboard doors at the far end of the room are fusuma, opaque interior doors that will be discussed below.
Fusuma. Fusuma are opaque sliding doors that separate rooms and can be used as closet doors as well. In large houses, they can also divide long hallways, cutting down on drafts. Lightweight and covered with cloth or paper, fusuma are often painted with scenes from nature, as in this room, or decorated with calligraphy. Beyond their function as doors, fusuma can be one-of-a-kind works of art.
The fusuma at left are plain except for their black borders, which mimic the black cloth borders of the tatami mats. At the far end of the room, the shoji slide open to reveal a stone lantern in the garden. The pale colors and black lines of this room are austere even by Japanese standards.More: East Meets West in 3 Modern Japanese Homes