Residential tokonoma (alcove), c. 1910.

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A tokonoma. The decorated alcove of a Japanese receptin [sic] room.

A tokonoma. The decorated alcove of a Japanese receptin [sic] room.

“The line used in Japanese architecture is based upon the straight line … The buildings which are thought most typical of Japanese taste, such as Shinto shrines of ancient times, tea ceremony houses of medieval times and dwelling-houses of the present day are all composed of straight lines. This characteristic use of the straight line is most obvious in the plan composition, and it is the most rational design when the material used is wood.”

Japanese Architecture, Board of Tourist Industry, Japanese Government Railways, 1936.

From the wiki: “Tokonoma, also referred to simply as toko, is a Japanese term generally referring to a built-in recessed space in a Japanese style reception room, in which items for artistic appreciation are displayed. In English, tokonoma is usually called alcove.

“The items usually displayed in a tokonoma are calligraphic and/or pictorial scrolls and an arrangement of flowers. Bonsai and okimono are also sometimes displayed there, although traditionally, bonsai were considered to be too dirty for such a highly respected place.”

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