Today we will take a trip to Japan, whose original culture and beliefs have a huge influence on the way window coverings are made there. We will find out what the ‘window of bewilderment’ is and what the ‘window of spiritual enlightenment’ is. We will look at the delightful outside world through the unique prism of the descendants of the Samurai. From there, our steps will take us straight to sunny Spain, where we will discover the secrets of the local people. These – although seemingly extroverted and open-minded – treat window covering systems as a gateway to privacy.
Japan is a country which, with its rich culture so very different from ours, fascinates millions of people around the world. Those lucky enough to have had the opportunity to visit the land of the cherry blossom praise the unique landscapes, general technological advancement, and also note that it is rather difficult to establish lasting and deeper relationships with the Japanese. The people of Japan are extremely hard-working and love art and everything beautiful. This is, after all, where Geisha and manga originated. So it’s no surprise that they have also made window curtain systems into something unique that you won’t find anywhere else on earth. In traditional Japanese construction you will find light and sliding windows, which are usually made of bamboo, wood or washi paper. Nowadays, we are increasingly seeing the traditional Japanese making concessions to window solutions made from plastic elements. Transparent panes are usually inserted into the frames and the installation of double glazed windows is becoming increasingly popular. The traditional Japanese window even has its own special name, and that is shiju. In order to combine the desire for artistic expression with the practical use of windows, we can often find solutions in which shiju is installed on the inside and windows with PVC glass and frame on the outside. Thus, on the outside there is a system of window curtains that guarantees shelter from the weather, and on the inside a solution that the Japanese describe as a completely separate cultural phenomenon. The view from the window, which is regulated by manoeuvring the amount of paper on its surface, can be truly delightful. The light play makes nature, which in itself is very kind to the Japanese people, open up a unique visual experience. Shoji may come in several variants: gakubuchi shoji equipped with a square or rectangle allowing the outside world to be admired only in the middle of the window, or yokogarasu shoji, on which a pane is placed halfway up the window. Windows have a symbolic meaning in Japan, and the rectangular ones are referred to as ‘windows of bewilderment’ symbolising birth, the aging process, illness and death. Circular windows, on the other hand, are directly linked to Zen Buddhism and are called ‘windows of spiritual enlightenment.’
Scientific research confirms that weather conditions determine our mood. If we have an abundance of vitamin D in our bodies, and our faces are frequently exposed to the sun – we will be more smiley, less prone to depression and generally – much happier with life. On the other hand, if we have a deficiency of sunshine, our mood decreases and the risk of depression increases. As well as significantly influencing our mood, the weather also forces us to adapt to the weather conditions in which we live. It will be no different when it comes to the system of window curtains that can be found in our homes. So it’s no wonder that in Spain, where most of the year is full of sunshine and fine weather, residents have stocked up on curtains to protect them from excessive radiation and provide respite during hot days. The Spanish, therefore, rely on external roller shutters, which can be found in almost every house, and often also additional blinds and awnings. The appearance of window curtains in the Iberian Peninsula is also highly dependent on the type of building. The Spanish are aesthetes who take great care to ensure that the solutions adorning their windows are pleasing to the eye. Anyone who has had the opportunity to visit Spain will certainly remember the townhouses with their colourful wooden shutters. In traditional buildings, we often see windows and patio doors opening inwards. On these you will most often find persian blind, that is, roll-up external blinds. New construction, on the other hand, mostly consists of PVC windows with aluminium roller shutters.
The windows of the Spanish, irrespective of the type of building, are tightly protected all year round, even when the sun rays do not seem to be so insistent. This is because the Spanish, who appear to be very open and sociable, actually value their privacy enormously. Grilles can often be found on windows located on the so-called low ground floor, which protect windows from potential burglars.