Traditional Japanese kitchens are recognized for their streamlined complexity, with stark white or black cabinets and wooden cabinetry that tend to be somewhat less than stylish. Today’s modern Japanese kitchen, however, is not quite as uniform in its appeal. The traditional “lifestyle” style of Japanese living has been transformed by the tastes and interests of Western consumers, resulting in a much more stylish and sophisticated Japanese kitchen design. Modern Japanese kitchen designs have also been transformed by the needs of working people who find it difficult to get enough natural light into their kitchen space, so that they can work even after dark.
Traditionally, japanese kitchen design has tended toward a single color, such as black, gray or beige. In recent years, however, this has begun to be changed, primarily due to the demands of consumers who find that the traditional Japanese look is too monotonous and bland. These new, trendy and more efficient designs have been especially developed for single color operations, particularly in the area of countertop color. While the old style was to have a single color cabinet door and two or three colors on the cabinet front, the new trend has been to have only a single color door and counter top. In the process of achieving this, cabinet doors have been divided into two sections: the “hanging” or front cabinet, which is hinged outward, and the “cover” cabinet, which is usually attached to the wall behind it. Typically, the cover cabinet has one or two drawers, while the hanger cabinet has many more.
Another influence on the Japanese kitchen design comes from the minimalistic style introduced by the Diners Club. Minimalism, which originates from the Japanese concept of Zen, involves using as much natural materials as possible, to save space. Minimalists often prefer a light, airy feel in their kitchens, because it helps create a relaxed atmosphere. This has given Japanese design a knack for mixing function with aesthetic beauty, in a process called “karate arts.” Many Japanese families now have a Zen theme throughout their home, which is often shown in the way their kitchen cabinets are designed.
Even in its purest form, the Japanese kitchen design still tends towards simplicity. For example, the use of a white countertop with dark wooden flooring is an obvious example of minimalist design. While there are no rules to follow when it comes to colour, the darker the colours used, the more traditional the room will appear. The lighter colours are generally reserved for accessories and kitchen furniture.
Another important aspect of Japanese kitchen design is the use of space. In most rooms, a family eats together after working in front of the TV in the evenings. In a small kitchen area, this is usually not possible, so the family must eat outdoors. Indoors, a Japanese kitchen table can accommodate a couple of small chairs around a long table. Because spaces are not so restricted, Japanese furniture can be designed to take advantage of every inch of any kitchen table. Soft, comfortable sofas and loveseats, with matching low tables, may be used, as they provide both seating and eating space.
Because most pieces of japanese kitchen design are functional, utilising space-such as storage facilities for small kitchen appliances, the focus turns to interior design. Under the seat storage, such as on cabinets and closets, is common, providing additional storage capacity. Japanese manufacturers are renowned for their design sense, and one look at a beautifully designed cupboard or wardrobe will reveal just how much thought has gone into the production of it. The use of minimalism is apparent throughout the interior design of most japanese kitchens – in doors, countertops and even the use of appliances.
The final component of Japanese kitchen design is the use of natural materials. Wabi-Sabi is a traditional form of wood decoration, consisting of using thinner strips of wood bonded together in such a way as to resemble natural materials, such as bamboo. By imitating the grain and structure of natural material, wabi-sabi enhances the appearance of a traditional Japanese kitchen. With its soft and warm feel, wabi-sabi creates a welcoming atmosphere in which families can relax, enjoy and share food.
As you can see, a traditional Japanese kitchen consists of a few basic items. These include the main cooking area, a sink and refrigerator, a small cooking area adjacent to the sink, and sometimes a serving area or even a garden. Another essential item of japanese kitchen design is the use of a simple form of storage, which is made use of most often by placing a small pot on top of a block of stones or by building a raised platform to place food on (called a yummy cart). The final component of this type of design is the use of open floor plan kitchen designs. Although it is not as common as other components, the use of kansoi pots for fish is also becoming more common in Japanese cooking areas.