Shoji (Japanese障 子) are sliding room divider in the traditional architecture of Japan.

Use in the building

You can take over the function of a door, window or room divider. Usually Shoji were used along the exterior walls. Because they are translucent, the building interior was always supplied with natural light, however, was protected from prying eyes. Due to the lightweight design, they are neither noise nor heat insulation.

The low resistance to weathering meant that Shoji had to be covered with new paper, according to the state, constantly. To work around this problem, Shoji were always protected by a roof overhang and were located between the interior and Engawa, a narrow balcony. In addition, there were additional wood pushers that could be mounted on the outside before the Shoji in a separate rail on the floor and on the ceiling, especially in winter and typhoons. Shoji were never exposed to direct rain.

In traditional Japanese buildings (up to the end of Edo period in 1868 ) there were basically just sliding elements. Revolving doors were not invented until the beginning of the opening of the country. A major reason was the philosophy of flowing space, which required only a room divider in a lightweight construction. Pushers are also space-saving and do not destroy the room atmosphere in the open state by standing like a revolving door in the room.

With the beginning of the Meiji period and the opening of the country reached new materials and architectural idea from the West to Japan. The building got a new skin, the shoji were protected by a glass front. This design does not correspond to the original climate- technical and architectural concept of the traditional residences, as Western and Japanese elements were combined, which brought advantages and disadvantages.

In new buildings Shoji come nowadays still used, especially in the tatami rooms, the Washitsu. These are spaces in the traditional Japanese design patterns that can be found as before in every newly built Japanese apartment at least once. The separation of indoor and outdoor space will be taken over in this case by a fixed lights, which can be deemed to imply a decorative element to the shoji only.


A shoji consists of an outer wooden frame, a thin wooden board in stabilizing foot ( Koshi Ita) and the thin lattice struts ( Kumiko ), is where the paper with Reisstärkeleim ( Sokui ) glued on. Depending on the costs associated with the Kumiko classification distinguishes one Tateshige - Shoji (more than four columns, less than ten or twelve rows) and Yokoshige - Shoji ( four or fewer columns, more than ten or twelve rows). The usual size is 1.73 m × 0.86 m, due to the classic design of the Japanese interiors.

Traditionally, the shoji are on the last day of the year covered by the residents with new paper, so that the New Year with a bright white shoji can be committed.

Today most paper is used in industrial production, sometimes plastic.

Demarcation Fusuma elements

Unlike Fusuma sliding shoji elements are transparent, for they are only coated with a layer of rice paper, called washi glued. However, Fusuma are a complex composite of several layers of paper and cardboard, also on a wooden lattice, but which remains invisible. In addition Fusuma are painted or decorated and have, because of their smooth surface, a grip, hikite called, which in turn can be elaborately designed.

Fusuma elements have been used as a demarcation between the rooms inside the building, while the Shoji factors have started to draw the distinction between outer space.

The word was originally used for all shoji sliding elements in a Japanese house. Later, the distinction between karagami Shoji (now Fusuma ) and akari Shoji (today Shoji ) introduced.


  • Sideways sliding shoji are called hikishōji (引 障 子)
  • Suspendable Shoji kakeshōji (挂 障 子)

The horse-drawn wooden frame can be combined with small glass windows, sliding panels or thin wood plates, resulting in Shoji versions with different applications are possible, such as:

  • Yokogarasu - Shoji ( with horizontal glass window, usually in the mid-height )
  • Gakubuchi - Shoji ( picture frame like window in Shoji center)
  • Yukimi - Shoji ( "Snow Viewing shoji ", with vertical sliding center panel )
  • Koshidaka - Shoji ( " input Shoji " fixed lower half)
  • Tsuitate ( free -standing room divider )
  • Byobu ( folding screen )


Shoji and Fusuma in the Katsura Villa in Kyoto

Shoji from the outside

Shoji in Takamatsu Castle, Kagawa Prefecture