The Best Antique Japanese Screens
Hey, who doesn’t need some sort of divider to split up your apartment living room to make a new room? You know what would be great? Investing in an antique Japanese screen to fully separate yourself from the rest of your apartment! Not only have you created a nice private $800/month room, you now have a great opportunity to personalize your space. Decorate your place with wonderful cultural artwork!
Traditional screens in other Asian cultures generally consist of heavy, wooden panels that fold up with hinges. Japanese screens, called byobu, originated from China; however, overtime they have evolved from this original, solid wooden style to a more artistic style with painted scenes to the more modern and light weight shoji style. Here are our picks for the best antique Japanese screens!
What, did I say something about antique Japanese screens? Certainly not a depiction of a Chinese event. Ah, what’s the difference?! This sturdy, wooden screen depicts the Chinese Ching Ming Festival, or Grave Sweeping Festival. This event is similar to the Japanese Obon Festival, during which family members visit their ancestors’ graves and honor their spirits. There are many festivals celebrated across multiple Asian cultures dedicated to honoring and remembering ones’ ancestors. This Oriental Furniture screen is four panels of beautifully carved, hand-painted and hand-lacquered elm wood. Each panel is six feet tall, sixteen inches wide, and one inch thick. Use this intricately designed panel to decorate your living room and you’ll always have such a lively get together with your friends!
What could be more Japanese than the iconic elegant white crane? This screen by Oriental Furniture depicts a beautiful scene with three white cranes and a serene garden. In Japan, cranes are considered a national treasure and symbolize longevity and good luck. Remember the girl who folded a thousand paper cranes? Cranes hold such significance in Japanese culture, they can be seen on all sorts of embroidered clothing and artwork. This screen is similar to the traditional byobu with the fancy gold leaf foil applique that covers the entire panel. Each panel is made from a six foot tall, one inch thick solid piece of elm wood. This screen has graceful arches and gives it some added elegance that makes it way better than the usual uniform rectangular panels. You should definitely buy this screen if you want to feel ultra-graceful, Japanese, and fancy in your living room, room.
Ok, I lied, if there’s anything that could scream out Japanese any more than white cranes, perhaps that would be geishas. This screen, also from Oriental Furniture, is four golden panels of beautiful, ornately dressed, traditional geishas. These very classy ladies are wearing beautifully colored kimonos and are, very stately, standing together. Oh wait, what do you know? There’s a paper lantern depicting one of those iconic white cranes in the top right corner! This fold up screen also consists of the durable elm wood panels, each six feet tall, sixteen inches wide, and one inch thick. It too, features a 12 coat high luster hard clear lacquer finish and a 24 carat gold leaf foil applique. The colors of these geishas’ kimonos pop out with the vibrant, hand painted acrylics. The back side of the panel has a floral design on a black lacquer background. Want to look like a boss? Get this screen for your makeshift kingdom room.
Alright, alright, alright, let’s move on from those heavy pieces of furniture to the newer, more modern lightweight shoji style screens. Usually, shoji screens in Japan are the built in wall partitions, the kind you think of when you hear “sliding wall panel door things” in a traditional Japanese house. This partition has a wooden frame covered in a synthetic paper material that allows light to shine through. This provides a nice calming atmosphere if you’re just sitting in your apartment during the day time watching anime and don’t want to feel like a loner. Now you can sit in your living room/room and sip on some traditional Japanese green teas while you enjoy your shows. Each panel is six feet tall by 17 ¾ inches wide, making the whole four panel screen about 70 ¼ inches wide. This screen also has a beautiful floral picture, each panel showing a different symbolic plant in Japanese culture: a small branch of a plum tree, the plum flower being the first to open during the year and thus shows the coming of spring; one with soft switches of tall grass; a few stalks of bamboo, symbolizing prosperity and strength; and chrysanthemum flowers, which represent perfection and tranquility. Each of these plants also represent the transition of seasons in the year. Get this beautiful screen if you want a nice, simplistic panel depicting the seasons!
Want a screen with a traditional brush painting? Look no further than this MyGift four panel partition with a wonderful painting depicting cherry blossoms, butterflies, swallows, and bamboo. This screen is 63 inches tall, 69 inches wide, and 0.75 inches thick. This is similar to the traditional, heavy wooden screens in that it consists completely of wood. However, it consists of solid wooden frames and multi-slatted wooden panels. Not only does this make the panels sturdier than the cloth or paper screens, it allows an all wooden partition to be lightweight. These panels also display the four seasons of the year, but in a more detailed and artistic way than the Sintechno screen. Invest in this beauty for your room!
Fine, you wanted something a little plainer but still gives off that Asian vibe? Check out this screen from Coaster Home Furnishings! It’s got the convenient, large, rectangular panels on a wooden frame and the shoji styled paper paneling. This makes the screen perfectly light for you to rearrange your living room/room anyway you’d like, as often as you’d like! The whole thing weighs a manageable 15.7 pounds. It’s elegant, with a vertical rectangular rubberwood frame pattern and an opaque rice paper screen that will allow just enough sunlight to shine through to your half of the room! The wooden frame is a FSC certified rubberwood with a black finish, and the screen isn’t merely a rice paper screen. It is made of a durable synthetic rice paper material. Each panel is six feet tall and 17 ¾ inches wide. Get this Japanese screen if you want a simple, yet still classy partition.
Get back to those Japanese roots, and get this shoji styled screen with a plum blossom tree design. This beautiful screen features a wonderful piece of artwork on its translucent white rice paper. The wooden frame is made of black painted pine wood and has a simple, vertical rectangular lattice. The whole thing is very light and easily folds up for convenient storage. Each panel is connected by 2-way hinges that allow you to open the screen and position it across your room effortlessly. The four panels extend 70 inches wide and are each 70 inches tall and one inch thick. This shoji screen would be such a treat to see in your living room; it would be a 2-in-1! Buy this screen and you get a lovely Asian painting in addition to your privacy!
Ok, so you wanted a screen, but you don’t want a giant picture of a tree yet you still want to give off the Asian vibe? Look no further than the MyGift 3-panel Shoji screen room divider with a wooden lattice that resembles traditional Japanese architecture! The three panels are covered in a semi-sheer cloth on a frame of black wood. The wooden lattice on the front features offset lines, which results in different sized rectangles but arranged in a very pleasing layout. The panels are all 70 inches tall and extend to 50 inches when opened all the way. This may be one panel less than the other screens on this list, but that won’t hinder your privacy! This is for sure a great screen to use and spruce up your room! If anything, you only really need to block your bed, right?
Am I shrinking? No, of course not! Why not buy an authentic, Japanese byobu, compact and the perfect size to partition off… your desk. If you wanted to decorate your office or your room with some Japanese art but you don’t have any place for a large painting, be sure to get this compact yet beautiful 4-panel byobu featuring Fujin Raijin-zu (Wind God and Thunder God) by Edo painter Sotatsu Tawaraya. It is said that this painting was Tawaraya’s masterpiece, featuring Fujin, the wind god, and Raijin, the thunder god, in the two upper corners giving the whole piece a sense of tension. The two gods in Japanese mythology are depicted against a gold background. This screen was made by excellent, traditional craftsman in Tokyo. This byobu is a nice 11.4 inches tall, 16.4 inches wide, and 0.2 inches thick, perfect for hiding behind on your desk. Each of the four corners is protected by a gold metal bracket to prevent any wear and tear as you move the screen along your table. It can be folded up into a convenient size. This beautiful screen even comes with its own box and notecard that describes the picture. Get this byobu if you’re looking for a screen to display your prized mini samurai sword or a place to hide behind while you take a nap during work!
Want one of the most famous Japanese wood cut paintings but don’t have any wall space? Buy this Kataoka byobu featuring the iconic ukiyo-e artwork, “Great Wave and Mt. Fuji” by Katsushika Hokusai. Who needs privacy in your divided living room when you can display this wonderful picture, ubiquitous in Japanese restaurants and other Japanese establishments, in the comfort of your own space! This easily portable byobu features one of the most popular and well-known woodblock prints from Hokusai. This screen measures 10.8 inches in height, 15.4 inches in width, and 0.2 inches in depth. It is no bigger than a thin magazine when folded up, if you ever needed to store it away in your drawers. Get this one if you wanted a petite, iconic Japanese artwork in your home or office!