Most Westerners are familiar with the concept of shoji room dividers and screens, as well as other Japanese home furnishings like low-profile platform beds and tatami mats, but the concept of the “Noren” hasn’t yet become a household name. Many people think of Noren as bamboo doors, but the truth is that these artful room dividers are designed to be used in place of doors. Some of more popular patterns depict the bamboo plant, however, as well as other iconic Japanese images like carp and dragonflies.
You may be wondering why the Japanese hang fabric from a doorway or window, in place of a door or window dressing. In most Western homes we are less inclined to use fabric Noren curtains because most houses are built with wooden or fiberglass interior doors in every room. When used properly, Noren make a more graceful transition from one room to the next, while providing a visual element that is much more interesting to look at. They usually have vertical slits from the bottom of the fabric to near the top, making it easy to pass through than a traditional door. Not only do Noren bamboo doors add a visual focal point to a room; they also work well with Feng Shui and Zen decor.
The Noren bamboo doors shown here are actually wall hangings made from a bamboo patterned fabric. The Japanese indigo bamboo pattern is made with a batik-style silk screen process on natural cotton and rayon blend canvas, and they can be used on any doorway as a room divider. This one is 33” wide and 59” long, and it is split down the middle for easy passage. The seam is closed at the top so it can be hung with a bamboo curtain rod.