障子(しょうじ)【Shoji (sliding paper doors, windows, and partitions)】

Shoji are sliding paper doors, windows, and partitions that have been used since the Heian period (the 8th century) and most Japanese houses still use them today. Originally, there were two types of shoji. One was fusuma-shoji, and the other was akari-shoji. The fusuma-shoji, which are presently called fusuma, referred to sliding doors and partitions with both sides of the wooden frame pasted with cloth or paper. The akari-shoji referred to sliding doors, windows, and partitions with one side of the latticed wooden frame pasted with thin translucent white Japanese paper called shoji paper. The fusuma-shoji was used to divide rooms. It could divide one room into two or more smaller ones. The akari-shoji was only used to let in light. Today, the word shoji only refers to the akari-shoji. It can be used as a divider between rooms or between a room and a hallway. In addition, it can also be used as a door to a room, or it can be fitted into a window. The shoji, being quite decorative, are sometimes used for lampshades or other fittings for Japanese-style rooms.

障子は日本家屋に必ずある建具で、平安時代(8世紀)から使われている引き戸です。元来は2種類の障子があり、木の桟の両側に布または紙を貼ったものを襖障子(ふすましょうじ)、格子の木枠の片側に薄い半透明の白い和紙(障子紙)を貼ったものを明り障子(あかりしょうじ)と呼んでいました。襖障子は今日では襖と呼ばれ、1つの部屋を2つ以上の小部屋に分けるための間仕切りとして使われていました。一方、明り障子は明りを取るために用いられました。現在では、障子は明り障子のみを指し、部屋と部屋、または部屋と廊下との間仕切りとしての他に、部屋の出入り口や窓に取り付けて用いられています。障子は装飾的な要素も兼ね備えているため、電灯の笠などにも用いられています。

The translucent white shoji paper is durable and does not tear easily because the fibers in the paper are intertwined with one another. The shoji paper also has an advantage in admitting soft sunlight into rooms by controlling the direct sunlight. This makes the rooms feel warm. Finally, the shoji doors, windows, and partitions have the great advantage of being removable.

障子に使用されている半透明の白い和紙(障子紙)は、繊維が絡み合っているため丈夫です。障子紙は直射日光を抑えながら通すため、柔らかい光を部屋に取り入れることができます。このため、部屋の中が暖かく感じられます。この他にも、障子には取り外しができるという大きな利点があります。

When the shoji paper becomes old or tears, the whole sheet of paper can be replaced by a new sheet. People customarily repaper their shoji and fusuma at the end of the year in preparation for the New Year.

穴があいたり古くなった障子紙は、新しいものに張り替えます。障子紙の張り替えは、大晦日の恒例的な正月準備の一つです。

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