Tokonoma: Japanese tradition turned modern style.

In honor of Bonsai Creek's newest collection Hanging Wall Scrolls I'd like to introduce (or re-introduce) you to the long honored tradition of Tokonoma (床の間).  Unique to Japan and reminiscent of the minimalist art of Zen.  Tokonoma first appeared in the late Muromachi period (14th–16th century).  The fact that the tokonoma is raised slightly from the floor, in much the same way that the floor of the room is raised above the level of the entrance, is an indication of its higher status, within the architecture of the house, and is perhaps direct evidence of its early religious connotations.

In other words, the tokonoma is a raised alcove providing a very special space, in which important items for artistic appreciation are displayed - such as ikebana, bonsai, a favored piece of pottery, or an artistic or calligraphic scroll. The tokonoma and its contents are essential elements of traditional Japanese interior decoration. The word 'toko' literally means "floor" or "bed"; 'ma' means "space" or "room".

Every good design needs a focal point.  In many Western homes, the mantel place in the living room is often a focal point from which other interior design elements are added in a more or less symmetrical fashion.  In traditional Japanese homes or modern homes containing a washitsu (Japanese-style room) it is the Tokonoma that serves as the subtle focal point for the interior.  The mantel often has a large picture or other artifact hanging above it that remains for years or as long as the residents occupy the home.  By contrast, the art work in the tokonoma changes throughout the year based on the season or the occasion.

As you can see tokonoma has a long and distinguished history.  Today you will also find the bonsai/hanging scroll combo displayed together independent of the alcove setting. The hanging scroll on a wall of the home with the bonsai displayed in front, often on a decorative display table. Tokonoma elevates the feel and appearance of any room that hosts it. Whether you choose it for the intention of interior design or a place of reverence the combo of a bonsai and hanging wall scroll is a striking combination. 

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