Japan: no need to buy curtains for half of your windows…

Posted on 08.11.2014


I’ve been meaning to discuss this for a while, since in the states we have a phrase or idiom about ‘already picking out curtains’. I think it still applies here, and I’ve taught it plenty of times in lessons, but there’s something interesting about the windows in Japan.

We live in a traditional Japanese house with tatami mats, a Japanese bath, and no oven. Just a stovetop.  Our house faces west and windows face west and south. We technically have a few windows that face north, but they face the house next door that we can reach out and touch. So they’re  not exactly adding light to the overall ambiance on the north side.

IMG_8629ALL of our windows on the first floor are frosted, even the tiny ones. The front door and the window in the upstairs bathroom is, as well. I’ve noticed this is normal whenever I walk down my street or in other neighborhoods: most first floor windows and doors are frosted, and ALL bathroom windows seem to be, as well! It’s not an accident, or a design choice that was made by the people who built our house, it seems to be standard.

Along with this, most larger doors and windows come equipped with what I call ‘light blockers’, which the Germans had a similar version of. They’re actually storm doors or window covers, meant to protect these parts in a storm, typhoon, etc. We use them to sleep a little longer on our days off, since using them really makes the bedroom darker. Win!

IMG_7505So here in Japan, even though the houses are pretty close together and the windows and balcony doors COULD look right into the homes of others, most often they don’t. We can see about 10 windows from our balcony, and all of them are frosted. It’s an amazing amount of privacy for being so close together.