11+ Japanese Living Room Ideas for Total Zen

japanese living room

Get inspired with our Japanese living room decor, ideas and designs

Japanese interior design is not all about trends, there is a sense of history and culture that is very central to it. It is this appreciation of it that helps us understand why it is like that and the purpose it serves. If you are searching for Japanese living room ideas, you are in the right place. In this post, I will show you some great images to draw inspiration from, and detail the concepts that lie behind this distinctive Japanese décor style.

If you consider the average Japanese home, it is much smaller than what we would consider average in the west. This in part is to do with the density of population in Japan, obviously space is at a premium. The same applies to a Japanese apartment too.

Japanese architecture was therefore much more flexible to compensate. Japanese style interior design is great at transforming space to mirror the needs of the home. You guessed it, the furniture and decor in a traditional Japanese home plays a big part in this.

Whether it is eating, sleeping or entertaining, the Japanese living room is adaptable to fit around the needs.

People and Japanese living rooms

We also need to consider the culture of the Japanese people. They consider light to be of upmost importance, hence why natural light is highly desired. With Japanese style design, the interior fixtures, fittings and materials are also designed to allow light to flow through the rooms. A Japanese style room has many different facets.

Nature is also integral to Japanese people. They absolutely love nature and property that comes with a view is highly desirable. For those that don’t, the garden is just as important . The way they meticulously tend to their gardens is highly admired. Cherry blossom, bamboo and the bonsai tree is highly valued, as are colorful floral arrangements. It doesn’t stop there; nature also belongs indoors too in a Japanese home. You will see plenty of traditional Japanese plants art too.

Look at a Japanese style living room, you will see an array of plants that are carefully placed and tended too. Often, they are strategically placed for many different purposes. You will also see the prominence of a wooden element as a building material, it is everywhere and links back to the Japanese love of nature.

No clutter…

Whereas we in the west are…more often than not…keen on clutter. We cherish and hold onto things, regardless of their value. The Japanese take the opposite approach to their living rooms as they do their kitchens . They don’t do clutter; their living spaces are sparse…by design, the ultimate in minimalist style.

The Japanese believe that clutter prevents clear mind and you cannot think wit so much ‘noise’ around you. Creative thinking comes from a ‘clean’ space. You also have to appreciate that an average Tokyo modern apartment or home tends to be on the smaller side, so clutter free living is a bonus. 

The furniture in a Japanese living room

As you can imagine based on their ethos, there isn’t much of it. Again, this is directly related to the amount of space they often have available to them and the need for a flexible space.

Therefore, any furniture they have, tends to be made from natural woods that are light in weight. This allows the Japanese to easily move their furniture around to accommodate the needs of the room.

Modern Japanese living rooms

The image we have described above is a very traditional Japanese living room. As with most things in life, things change. Increasingly we are seeing more of a western approach to furnishings, albeit with a very Japanese style. We see more ‘clutter’, we see more fixed spaces including sofas.

There however, remains a very Japanese sense of style, with minimalism still generally prominent, the use of natural materials and nature, very much still on display.

Times may change but some aspect of a modern Japanese living room remain the same.

Why not take a look at these meditation room ideas.

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Japanese Living Room Ideas

japanese style living room
Japanese style living room – Source: Ritzcarlton.com
japanese room design
Japanese room design – Source: Pinterest
japanese living rooms
Japanese living rooms – Pinterest
japanese living room furniture
Japanese living room furniture – Source: Pinterest
japanese living room
Japanese living room – Pinterest
japanese inspired rooms
Japanese inspired rooms – Source: Webber + Studio Architects
japanese inspired living room ideas
Japanese inspired living room ideas – Source: Pinterest
japan living room
Japan living room – Source: Pinterest
asian inspired living room
Asian inspired living room – Source: Pinterest
japanese style decor
Japanese style decor – Source: Daniel Krienbuehl Contractors
japanese home decor
Japanese home decor – Source: feinmann.com
japanese living rooms
Japanese living rooms

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Features of Japanese homes

Japanese homes were traditionally quite unusual, they were always deemed to be temporary which was reflected in the materials that were used to construct them. These days, they have a much more modern timeframe and the materials reflect that. However, there are aspects of a traditional Japanese home that live on today and are incorporated into new builds.

All these are aspects that can be incorporated into your home for that authentic Japanese interior design.

Tatami flooring

Tatami floors are incredibly common in Japan, and they reflect the culture perfectly. A Tatami mat is perfect for sitting and sleeping on. Made from rice straw, they are so soft yet hard wearing.

tatami flooring
Tatami flooring

A tokonoma is found in a Japanese living room, traditionally used to place a piece or art or sculpture. It can be described as a raised area, next to a wall. It has particular significance in Japanese culture. The host traditionally, receives guests and they sit with their back to the tokonoma…a gesture of humility where the art is not overshadowing the guest.


As we discussed earlier, traditional Japanese homes are dynamic in their structure. This is where fusuma is relevant. They are panels that slide and act as walls and doors to the room . Obviously, it would be impractical to do that in a modern western home, but for large open spaces, you could incorporate fusuma.


Although the name may not be familiar, you will recognize them when you see them. A Shoji screen is a panel that slides, essentially a sliding door, traditionally made from wood with paper. They let light through but you cannot see through the paper, simply shapes. Although they may have little practical use in a western home, they are a wonderful design touch and anybody serious about Japanese living room ideas should incorporate shoji.


Chabudai & Zabuton

Since you may not have the structure of an existing home to really give it that Japanese feel, you can do so with Japanese furniture and the way you interact with it.

A chabudai is a table with very short legs, which is the central part of the room. They look quite similar to a coffee table. Many activities including dinner is taken at this table. The family will sit on a thin floor cushion known as a zabuton. This is the Japanese equivalent of a chair…the traditional way of eating in Japan.

If you wanted to incorporate this idea without committing to it full time, you could potentially create this space in a corner or a separate room. Regardless of how you use it, it would make a great relaxing space. I hope we have given you some great ideas for your Japanese living room.

chabudai zabuton
Chabudai table & Zabuton cushions

Remember, you can implement a few things that signal towards Japanese design and culture, in your modern living room. You don’t necessarily need to recreate a room…in a modern Japanese house, this is precisely what they do. It is more than acceptable and adds a great dimension to your living room idea.

japanese living rooms
Japanese living rooms

Since you are here…can I ask a favor?

It would be really nice if you could share this image and page on your social media.

It’s just a couple of clicks for you but it means everything to us here at Houszed.

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