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(Pronunciation: "BYOH-boo") Literally "wind barrier," byobu are folding screens constructed of wood and paper. While they can be used to block the wind outdoors, they are commonly used to divide interior spaces and to provide privacy. The surfaces of byobu are often decorated with paintings.


(Pronunciation: "CHAH-noh-yoo") The Japanese tea ceremony—literally "hot water for tea."


(Pronunciation: "CHAH-sheet-soo") A Japanese teahouse or tea room.


(Pronunciation: "chee-GUY-dah-nah") In Japanese shoin architecture, a special shelving unit—literally "staggered shelves"—for the display of smaller art objects. This built-in shelving unit replaced the freestanding bookcases and cabinets that were popular in China.

Coffered Ceiling

A suspended ceiling made of a series of "coffers"—or open rectangular boxes—common to both Japanese and Western architecture.


(Pronunciation: "foo-SOO-mah") Sliding doors constructed of wood and paper. Fusuma slide along tracks set in the floor and transom, thus dividing the interior space into separate rooms. The surfaces of fusuma are often decorated with paintings.


(Pronunciation: "hee-NOH-kee") Japanese cypress, a wood preferred by Japanese artisans by virtue of being easy to carve and nearly sapless once cured.


The vertical posts that form the sides of a door, window frame, etc.


(Pronunciation: "kah-keh-MOH-noh") A Japanese hanging scroll. Consists of a painting or calligraphy backed by paper, framed by fabric, and attached to a wooden dowel. This flexible format allows kakemono to be rolled up for storage in special wooden boxes. Kakemono are usually displayed in the tokonoma.


Thin, flexible strips of wood or reeds used as a backing for plaster.


A horizontal structural member, such as a beam or stone, that spans the opening as between the uprights of a door, window, or similar architectural element.


A social class of Chinese men, trained in Confucian classics, who cultivated the arts—painting, calligraphy, poetry, and music. Some served the state as scholar officials—and all played the reclusive role of retired gentlemen.


(Pronunciation: "MEE-dzoo-yah") The "water room," or preparation area of a Japanese teahouse.


(Pronunciation: "nee-JEE-ree-goo-chee") The low entrance to a Japanese teahouse—through which all guests, regardless of rank, would crawl upon entering as a gesture of humility and social equality.


(Pronunciation: "ROH-jee") A Japanese a tea garden, literally "dewy path."


(Pronunciation: "SHEEN-den") An early style of Japanese palace architecture, which lacked a system of dividing interior space—with the exception of portable curtains or folding screens.


(Pronunciation: "shee-TAH-jee-MAH-doh;") A type of window in which a portion of the underlying lath (woven wood or reed strips) is left unplastered, so that light filters through the reed lath into a Japanese tearoom. The shitaji-mado is typically placed near the tea master's area, providing a bit of light where it is most needed.


(Pronunciation: "SHOH-een") A style of Japanese architecture that developed during the Muromachi Period—roughly between the 14th and the 16th century—characterized by the use of tatami mats, square columns, sliding doors, coffered ceilings, and the integration of spaces in which to display art. Literally, quot;book room" or a "study."


(Pronunciation: "SHOH-jee") Sliding doors consisting of translucent paper pasted over a rigid wooden framework. Shoji are used extensively around the periphery of traditional Japanese buildings in order to allow light to enter the rooms.


(Pronunciation: "SHOO-fahng") The library—or study— of a traditional upper-class Chinese home.


(Pronunciation: "SOH-ahn") The rustic style of Japanese teahouse—literally, "grass hut"—perfected by teamaster Sen Rikyu in the 16th century.


(Pronunciation: "SOO-kee-yah") The architectural style of the Japanese teahouse, which typically combined a multitude of materials—some left in the rough—to recreate the refined elegance of a rustic, wabi setting.


(Pronunciation: "tah-TAH-mee") Thickly woven mats of rice straw and rushes used to cover the floor in traditional Japanese houses.


(Pronunciation: "DING-dahng") The Main Hall of a traditional Chinese family home.


(Pronunciation: "toh-koh-NOH-mah") In Japanese architecture, an alcove for displaying art.


A horizontal crosspiece over a door or between a door and a window above it, or the horizontal dividing bars of the window itself.


(Pronunciation: "TSOO-koo-bye") A stone washbasin filled with fresh water outside a Japanese teahouse. Guests ladle water over their hands, and rinse their mouths to ritualistically cleanse themselves before entering.


(Pronunciation: "WAH-bee") A Japanese term, adopted from poetry, that suggested poverty or wretchedness. For Japanese tea masters, the wabi aesthetic meant that even simple ceramics and other locally made tea utensils could have their own humble beauty.