Monday, December 13, 2004
Living with Shouji
I woke up on Saturday to this pretty view. This is the floor length window in our bedroom, with a paper screen (shouji in Japanese) on the inside. On most days, when I get up, it is still pretty dark outside, so this was nice for me: sleeping in and getting a visual treat. It is moments like this that makes me thankful for not having curtains, and forget about the annoying fact that these paper screens are screaming, "poke a hole in me!" We have six shouji in our three bedrooms and after two and half years of living there, not one of them is intact. Libby, Jason and our cleaning lady all did their fair share in putting holes of various sizes into the shouji.
Although unsightly, some serve very useful purposes. Take for example, the one that Libby created one night when she got super excited about some birds chirping ceaselessly in the tree (our very first hole, and after that it was like a dam had been broken). It is exactly her nose-height and the perfect size for her to peek out into the yard. So now, instead of asking me to open up the shouji, she just sits there with her nose through the hole and observes. Works for me!
The functionality of others are less obvious, like the one made by the cleaning lady while vacuuming, or the one where Jason put his thumb through trying to close the shouji. Those I will repair, some day, by pasting flower shaped patches onto them. I first saw them at a temple in Kyoto. Sakura and plum shaped paper patches were scattered on all the paper screens and looked really artistic. It took me a while to realize that they were not for aesthetic purposes alone and serve double duty as band-aids. You can always count on the Japanese (and Balinese) people to think of ways to make every detail look pretty.