Japanese Wallpaper: The Guide
Few countries in the world have influenced contemporary interior design as much as Japan. Emphasising simplicity, harmony, and balance, which are cardinal points in Zen philosophy, Japanese design has helped to redefine minimalism with an almost obsessive attention to the most minute detail. These principles are reflected in Japan-style wallpapers, with designs that are often inspired by nature, depicting iconic motifs like cranes, fans or branches full of blooming cherry flowers. The precise details and the simple, repetitive patterns create a sense of order and harmony that helps bring balance to a room without being too overwhelming. Featuring soft, subtle hues, such as pastel shades of pink, blue, and green, a Japanese wallpaper promotes relaxation and mindfulness.
Table of Contents
- Why does Japanese wall décor complement Zen-focused ambiences?
- Why are Japan-inspired wallpaper models so popular?
- Which motifs and fantasies are typical of Japanese wallpaper?
- Which rooms are a good fit for a wall décor that matches Japan-style aesthetics?
Why does Japanese wall décor complement Zen-focussed ambiences?
A Japanese-style wallpaper fits perfectly into a Zen-inspired interior decoration concept focusing on a minimalist style that is inspired by traditional Japanese design principles and makes the wall décor the most important “accessory” in the room.
Its correlation to nature matches Zen philosophy
Wallpapers inspired by the Japanese aesthetic often feature motifs such as cherry blossoms, bamboo, ocean waves, or cranes. These simple patterns are the perfect match for the Zen concept of connecting with the natural world. In Zen Buddhism, nature is considered to be an important source of inspiration and a way to achieve enlightenment. The frequent use of these natural elements in Japanese wallpapers helps to create a connection with the natural world, promoting mindfulness, tranquillity, and inner peace.
Its simple patterns convey Zen harmony
Finding a calm and orderly balance in the environment surrounding us is at the core of Zen philosophy. Often featuring simple and repetitive patterns that create beauty as a result of the thorough attention to detail, a Japan-style wallpaper exudes a sense of harmony that creates a meditative Zen atmosphere.
Its subtle colours blend well with a Zen environment
Reflecting the aesthetic principles of traditional Japanese art and design which emphasise simplicity, balance, and harmony, Japan-inspired wallpapers are often characterised by muted and earthy hues (e.g. shades of beige, blue and green) which draw inspiration from the natural world. These colours create a peaceful and calming atmosphere which is in line with the Zen approach to interior design.
There are many reasons to pick a beautiful Japanese wallpaper, from easily fitting in a minimalist aesthetic or in one focused on natural materials to bringing a touch of exotism to contemporary interiors.
It’s a great fit for a minimalist aesthetic
Inspired by the aesthetic of traditional Zen Buddhism and with a strong focus on keeping life simple, clean, and uncluttered by just concentrating on the essentials, the Japanese interior design style has become a synonym for minimalism. A Japan-style wallpaper complements this concept that finds beauty in empty spaces and therefore gives more importance to unobstructed walls.
It complements interiors focused on natural materials
Despite many people living in futuristic high-rise cities, Japanese culture and sense of style is strongly linked to nature. Japanese design philosophy emphasises this connection and frequently features natural materials like wood, stone, and bamboo. Japan-style wallpapers reflect this aspect via natural motifs which create a sense of harmony with the natural world that is intrinsically Japanese.
It adds an exotic accent to a modern space
There is a simple reason why the Western world fell in love with Japanese art over the last two centuries, inspiring artists such as Van Gogh, Edgard Degas or Claude Monet: The simple-yet-complex beauty of its motifs is simply mesmerising. A Japan-style wallpaper depicting unusual and intricate patterns can add an unexpected exotic touch to a modern home, while its bold and rich colours provide a striking contrast to modern looks often characterised by a neutral colour palette.
The soothing nature of Japanese motifs creates a sense of tranquillity and calmness
The most unique feature of Japanese design is the ability to find beauty in small details, from the patterns created by the falling petals of cherry trees in bloom to delicate bamboo canes swaying in the wind. These motifs are skilfully reproduced on Japanese wallpapers. Gentle waves, beautiful flowers, or blooming branches help create a sense of peace and calmness by bringing the beauty of nature into your home.
Few cultures in the world have produced more iconic and instantly recognisable motifs than the Japanese culture. From cranes to Sakura blossoms, from Hokusai waves to bamboo forests and fans, the beauty of Japanese fantasies is simply mesmerising.
Sakura and other cherry blossoms
No flower is more important for the Japanese aesthetic than the cherry blossom. The centuries-old tradition of Hanami (or cherry blossom festival) still brings the country to a standstill. Symbols of new beginnings and of the fleeting nature of life, the small, delicate pink flowers produced by the cherry tree are a very common motif of Japanese wallpapers, providing a serene sense of elegance and beauty.
Hiroshige and Hokusai waves
As an archipelago surrounded by the perilous Pacific Ocean, Japan always had a very special relationship with the sea. Throughout the history of Japanese art, the ocean waves off the country's coast have been a common theme, depicted both in a calm serenity and in frightening ferocity. This has resulted in the world-famous masterpieces by Hokusai and Hiroshige that have become a popular motif in many Japan-inspired wallpaper models.
One of the first images that come to mind when we think of Japan, and Asia in general, is the bamboo plant. Versatile and sustainable, the tall and slender stalks of bamboo are considered a symbol of strength and resilience as well as of simplicity and elegance. Very common in traditional art, bamboo landscapes featuring lush forests in intricate detail and clever shading to capture the texture of the foliage are a typical motif of Japanese wallpapers.
A traditional way of representing the elegance of Japanese culture as well as a reminder of the importance of practical objects as a medium for artistic expression, fans became a popular motif in the Edo period. The dual use of fans - not just for practical purposes such as keeping cool, but also as a canvas for artists to showcase their skills - makes them a classic example of the Japanese design aesthetic that is often reproduced in beautiful colours on Japanese wallpapers.
Beautiful and elegant, with long, slender legs, cranes are seen in Japanese culture as a powerful symbol of longevity and good fortune as well as fidelity. For this reason, the birds are usually shown in pairs, symbolising the idea of long-lasting love. On Japan-style wallpapers, cranes are often depicted on a colourful background, to further emphasise their monochromatic beauty.
Edo Komon textile patterns
A unique textile-dyeing technique that was originally developed in Edo (now Tokyo), Edo Komon uses stencils made of a special rice paste to create very detailed patterns on fabric, which are then coloured with a variety of natural dyes. The patterns used in Edo Komon textiles are typically small and repetitive, with intricate details and a high degree of precision. From simple geometric shapes to more complex designs that incorporate natural motifs, they are often depicted on Japanese wallpapers with stunning results.
There are many ways to incorporate a Japanese wallpaper in your personal interior design style, from adding unique and exotic elements to the existing look of your living room to recreating authentic Japanese vibes in a relaxing bedroom or bathroom.
A distinctive living room
Whether you are tempted to go all-in and create a minimalistic living room that fits within the Japanese concept of Zen philosophy, or you simply look for a unique feature wall to bring a touch of art and exoticism to your existing décor, a wallpaper inspired by Japanese motifs provides the right touch of beauty and elegance and adds sophistication and refinement to a living room.
An Onsen-like bathroom
Focused on purity and cleanliness, Japanese culture pays enormous importance to the bathroom. It is seen as a place for physical and internal rejuvenation and relaxation. A beautiful Japanese wallpaper featuring traditional art is the perfect element to recreate the sustaining energy found in a Japanese Onsen, a treasured part of Japanese culture that offers an escape from the strains and stresses of daily life.
An exotic bedroom
If you are looking to recreate the calm beauty of Japanese interior design in your bedroom, a Japan-inspired wallpaper in muted colours featuring natural motifs is the perfect canvas to build upon. Consider incorporating other elements that evoke Japanese culture, such as a bamboo headboard or a tatami mat, and add some Japanese decorative items, such as a bonsai tree or a shoji lantern. Avoid over cluttering, as Japanese design is known for its simplicity and minimalism.