Surrounding the exposed post and beam wooden structure of the traditional house are a number of common features which have been modified over a long history to create a style characterized by refined elegance. Some of these distinctive elements are as follows:
This is the Japanese name for the eaves projecting around the peripheral areas of the house covering entrance gateways, verandas and outhouses.
WINDOWS AND DOORS
Windows are floor to top beam panels which slide on adjacent tracks. The external track supports wooden panels for security and weather protection. The rear panels can consists of glass, latticed and shoji frames.
The interior sliding doors are frames covered with heavy paper and sometimes can be detailed in paint or intricate wooden latticed patterns.
The Fusuma does not touch the ceiling, therefore above the doors, there can be decorative grills placed for ventilation called ramma.
The transition between interior and exterior space is particularly important in Japanese architecture. This is facilitated through the use of elevated verandas called engawa surrounding courtyards and leading to the separated bathing facilities.
This entrance is always from the ground level, allowing space to leave shoes before entering the interior rooms. This is considered public space and an extension of the outside.
Recessed alcoves are raised in the corners of the rooms usually covered in wood or tatami for the purpose of seasonal display or exhibition.
KIWARIJUTSU / TATAMI
The measurement system used for room sizes depended on the number of tatami mats. This affected the dimensions of lumber used in the room in a traditional construction system called kiwarijutsu.
STAIRS / LADDERS
Narrow stairs and ladders were used for access to upper levels with sometimes draws located beneath for space saving.
COURTYARD / GARDEN
The structure of enclosure can vary from a simple fence to a thick wall and gate with a roof. The environment created through the passage from gate to interior space is a purifying process.Returning to ones home could be said to be a ritual in some sense. Many different forms of stimuli are inserted in the garden varying from rocks, water, shrubs, and lanterns to stone or gravel curved paths. The garden is not just for passage but for also observing from important parts of the home.