Unless you are well-versed in Far Eastern cultures, you probably have no clue what shoji screens and doors are. To be fair, if you were shown a photograph of a room that is decorated using shoji panels, doors, or windows, you would probably have an “Aha!” moment.
If you have seen The Karate Kid, Kill Bill, or any Bruce Lee film you have definitely seen shoji room dividers. Basically, shoji screens are simply the name for the Japanese screens and room dividers that are a common feature in many Japanese homes. From Japanese style sliding doors to Japanese folding screens, shoji screes, doors, and room dividers are essential components of Japanese interior decor.
While individuals who are hoping to achieve a design theme reminiscent of Japan will almost always opt for shoji screens, Japanese folding screens are also rather practical. This has to do with the unique composition of the paper that is used to fashion the shoji panels that are used to make Japanese shoji screens. This traditional type of Japenese paper is called washi, and is fabricated from the bark of the gampi tree, but has also been made using bambo, wheat, rice, hemp, mitsumata, and the paper mulberry.
The strength and translucent nature of washi make it idea for room dividers, as it allows the gentle transmission of light throughout a room, while also allowing increased privacy for a variety of purposes. The above features make them particularly useful for people who share loft or studio apartments with roommates who want more privacy.
Clearly, shoji Japanese folding screens, sliding doors, and dividers can be equally useful for both aesthetic and practical reasons. The bottom line is they are affordable and flexible ways to add touches of exotic ambiance and privacy to just about any room.