Saturday, 9 June 2012

Doors, Closets and Chairs

The photograph is real. The doorways in the house we are living in are barely higher than I am tall. I am about 173cm or 5ft 8in. It is not unusual in some traditional buildings, as for example a teahouse to have a doorway half that height. I suspect these are designed to teach humility by forcing a bow as you pass through them.
Speaking of measurements my shoe size in Canada is a size 9, whatever that means. At least in Japan they have had the brains to adopt the metric system exclusively, and my shoe size is 27cm. Just a warning to anyone coming here long term with a larger shoe size than this, that 27cm is the largest commonly found shoe. Occasionally you can see 28cm, but anything larger would be a special item.
I was beginning to think that Japanese people had never invented a closet for storing clothing. But in the Kabukicho BLOG, I neglected to mention that huge closets were found in the bedrooms. Any traditional home, that is one having a tatami mat room will have substantial storage spaces for the futon bedding, but not a clothes closet.
Chairs are not traditional Japanese furniture. For whatever reason when the Japanese adopted the chair they somehow frequently get the measurements wrong from a western perspective. I remember about ten years ago entering a coffee shop with Yayoi and eldest brother and almost collapsing into my chair as it was so close to the ground. At least the table matched the chairs. Yayoi and I are currently using a couple of chairs like this in our family room. They are about 30cm off the floor. Lucky that neither of us has long legs.

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