Explaining Japanese architecture

Choose one term from below. Explain it so that someone who knows nothing about Japan would understand. Your partner will listen and ask questions and/ or add more explanation.

  • “2LDK”
  • Akachochin
  • Amado
  • Amido
  • “Apart”/ Apaato
  • Bonsai
  • Butsudan
  • Byoubu
  • Chabudai
  • Chashitsu
  • Fusuma
  • Futon
  • Genkan
  • Getabako
  • “Heights”
  • Hibachi
  • Hoshounin
  • Ikebana
  • Kamidana
  • Koban
  • Kotatsu
  • Kura
  • “Live house”
  • Machiya
  • “Manshon”
  • Minka
  • Onsen
  • Oshiire
  • Reikin
  • Ryokan
  • Sentou
  • Shichirin
  • Shouji
  • Tansu
  • Tatami
  • Tokonoma
  • Torii
  • “Unit bath”
  • UR
  • Washitsu
  • “Washlette”
  • Youshitsu
  • Zabuton

Match these definitions to the words on the previous page.

  • A cheap, wooden, usually two-storey, apartment building, and the apartments in it.
  • A combined toilet and bidet.
  • A gate to a Shinto shrine with a distinctive double curved top, usually red painted wood but sometimes made of concrete or even metal.
  • A guarantor, meaning someone who will promises to pay your rent if you cannot.
  • A Japanese cottage, often thatched.
  • A Japanese-style hotel or inn where people sleep on the tatami floor on futon mattresses.
  • A Japanese-style sliding window made from small panels of translucent waxed paper.
  • A Buddhist household shrine, usually with photos of your ancestors. You leave offerings of food and light joss sticks and candles there.
  • A lobby area in a Japanese home just inside the door where shoes are taken off and put on, usually at a lower level than the rest of the house.
  • A paper lantern, usually red, and also the kind of small local bar where this is usually hung outside.
  • A police box, a kind of very small local police station.
  • A small or medium-sized live music venue.
  • A small table used while sitting on the floor.
  • A traditional storehouse, which was fireproofed to keep things safely in.
  • A wooden chest used to store things such as kimono.
  • An alcove in a traditional Japanese-style room such as a tearoom, where a hanging scroll and a flower arrangement is usually put.
  • Net screens, used to keep out insects such as mosquitoes.
  • Rush matting, used as flooring in a traditional Japanese room.
  • Sliding screens, used instead of a door and wall.
  • The name literally means “wind wall”. They are Japanese folding screens made from several joined panels bearing decorative painting and calligraphy, used to separate interiors and enclose private spaces.
  • Japanese-style flower arranging, with a name literally translated as “living flowers”.
  • Traditional Kyoto-style wooden terraced houses.
  • Two bedrooms and a combined, open-plan living room, dining room and kitchen.

Can you add anything to the descriptions above?

Write similar descriptions of other things, including things like:

  • colour(s)
  • decoration
  • history
  • literal meaning/ word-for-word translation
  • materials
  • parts/ construction
  • position/ place
  • shape(s)
  • size(s)/ dimensions
  • uses/ actions/ movements/ functions


PDF for easy saving and printing: Explaining Japanese architecture

Related pages

Worksheets for Japanese learners of English

English for architects page