床の間(とこのま)【Tokonoma (alcove)】

The tokonoma, a Japanese-style alcove, is a recess built into the wall of a Japanese-style room. A tokonoma generally covers either half of the area of a tatami-mat or the area of an entire mat. The floor of the tokonoma is slightly raised. The floor of the tokonoma is usually wood, but sometimes it consists of tatami-mat. A tokobashira and a tokogamachi separate the alcove from the rest of the room. The tokobashira is the alcove post and the tokogamachi is the rail laid across the front edge of the raised floor. The alcove post is placed at one of the front corners of the alcove to separate the alcove from the adjoining wall. The alcove post is usually made of a valuable piece of wood that is different from that used for the other pillars. Both the tokobashira and tokogamachi are beautifully finished, and they serve to decorate the alcove space. A scroll called a kakejiku in Japanese is hung on the back wall of the alcove, while flower arrangements and ornaments are displayed on the floor.

床の間は、和室の壁面に設けられた奥まった空間で、広さは1畳または半畳が一般的です。床の間の床は、座敷より一段高くなっており、普通は板張りにされていますが、畳敷きのものもあります。床の間と座敷は、床柱(とこばしら)と床框(とこがまち)によって区切られています。床柱は、床の間の手前の角にあり、床の間と他の壁との境目になる装飾的な柱です。床柱には、たいてい他の柱と異なる高級な木材が使われます。床框は、床の間の前端に渡した横木で、化粧仕上げが施されています。床の間の奥の壁には掛け軸を掛け、床には生け花や装飾品を置きます。

The tokonoma originated in the fourteenth century. It is said that the origin of the tokonoma was the rooms where Buddhist priests kept their household altars. People used the tokonoma then for religious services and hanging Buddhist paintings on the wall. Low tables were set in front of the tokonoma to put incense burners, vases, and candlesticks on. The tokonoma was not a recess as we see today. This religious area became a recess built into rooms during the Muromachi and Momoyama periods (from A.D. 1338 to A.D. 1600). The tokonoma eventually changed with the development of architectural styles from a religious space into the tokonoma that is currently seen. Today it serves as a decorative space in Japanese-style rooms.

床の間の起源は、14世紀の僧侶の家に設けられた仏間(仏壇が安置されている部屋)であったと言われています。当時の床の間は、現在のような奥まった空間ではなく、人々は壁に仏画を掛け、その前に低い机を置いて、香炉・花瓶・燭台を並べ、礼拝を行っていました。このような宗教的な空間が、室町時代から桃山時代にかけて、部屋の奥まった場所に造り付けられるようになり、建築様式の発達に伴って、現在のような座敷を装飾する空間としての床の間に変化したのです。

Since rooms with the tokonoma are more refined and have a solemn atmosphere, they generally serve as the room where guests are entertained. When people gather together in a room to attend a party, the order of precedence is determined. The seat closest to the tokonoma is regarded as the top seat or the seat of honor, and the farther a seat is away from the tokonoma, the lower it is regarded. The host occupies the seat of honor when receiving visitors, unless the visitor has a higher social standing than the host.

床の間のある座敷は品格があり、改まった雰囲気がします。このため、多くは客間として使用されます。宴会などで何人かが座敷に座るときには、席順を決めます。この場合、床の間に近い席が上座になります。来客を迎える場合、客が主人より社会的に上位の地位にある場合は客が上座に座り、それ以外の場合は主人が上座に座って応対します。

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