Seasons and culture of Japan

OSHI-IRE (押し入れ)

Most Japanese dwellings will have one or more rooms which are "traditional style" (和室, WA-SHITSU), with TATAMI (woven rush grass mats) flooring. Please take a look the link at the bottom for more details. The WA-SHITSU room will have a roomy closet, with sliding paper/fabric doors, which is called OSHI-IRE (押し入れ) OSHI/押し means "to push", and IRE/入れ means "to insert or put in", and so, from the meaning of the characters, it can be seen that the OSHI-IRE is not a typical clothes-hanging closet. Rather, it is a storage space for bedding and small furniture items which are used in the WA-SHITSU. Space is limited in Japanese homes, and starting from back in the olden days, methods were developed to use rooms efficiently. So, the WA-SHITSU was developed to be a bedroom at night, and a multi-purpose or sitting room during the day. Traditional Japanese beds consist of sleeping mats and blankets called FUTON (布団), and although bulky, they can be folded and "pushed" into the OSHI-IRE when not in-use. A small tea-table with folding legs and sitting cushions called ZA-BUTON (座布団) might also be stored in the OSHI-IRE. So, the roomy and easily accessible OSHI-IRE allows the WA-SHITSU to quickly and conveniently be converted for different uses. Of note, Japanese stores sell large plastic storage boxes with slide-out drawers, which are sized to fit in the OSHI-IRE, so they can be stacked-up and essentially serve as a Western-style dresser or cupboard. Also, expansion rods can be installed in the OSH-IRE for hanging clothes -- an amazing and flexible storage space! We hope you will enjoy living in your Japanese house, and if you have any questions, please give us a call anytime.

written by Goodfield


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