What are these curtains hanging at the entrances of shops in Japan?

“Noren”, or a store curtain, is often hung at the entrances of shops in Japan. Today, I’d like to introduce the role of this curtain and its origin.

2016-07-29 Wasabi   Culture,

Curtain


【CONTENTS】
What is this curtain?
Let’s find a variety of Noren in Japan!
Noren is a great decoration for your own home.

Curtain
Curtain at the entrance

What is this curtain?

Have you ever seen a curtain hanging at an entrance? That is called “Noren” in Japanese.

Noren
Noren

The Kanji, 暖簾, written on the curtain means “warm curtain”. This is the origin of Noren, and people in Japan used it to shade the sun in summer, and to keep their place warm in winter. Over time, these curtains started being used at the entrance to stores, and have become a sort of ‘flag’ for them. You can see them everywhere in Japan.

Let’s find a variety of Noren in Japan!

I’m going to show you different types of Noren that I found in Japan.

Noren

Noren

Noren are often designed according to a shop’s image and interior.

Noren at a sushi shop
Noren at a sushi shop

During the Edo period (1603~1867), noren at sushi shops were said to signify how good their sushi is. The dirtier it is, the more authentic!

Customers would wipe their fingers on the curtain when they left after eating, because at that time wet towels were not commonly offered. Sushi used to be fast-food, so people would often stand and quickly eat.

Today, people don’t wipe their fingers on the noren, but it’s interesting how the success of old edo shushi shops were dependent on how dirty their noren was.

Noren at public bath
Noren at public bath

At Japanese public baths, noren is often used to distinguish male and female baths.

Noren
Underground floor in a mall

Noren is a great decoration for your own home.

Noren

Noren plays the role as a signboard or flag at shops in Japan, and is often used to decoration interiors as well. There are many different types in various colors and shapes. Noren can be used as partitions, and can be used in your own home.

Why not get one as a decoration for your home? It’s fun to choose a favorite noren from a variety of materials and sizes, or even make your own!

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AUTHOR

kyoami

kyoami

Writer/ Translator

I love Japanese folkcraft article, traditional handicrafts and antiques. I’m seeking the Japanese people’s religious outlooks and its origins that are behind Japanese people’s unique sense and techniques rooted in the ordinary life.