What is a Shoji Lamp?

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  • Written By: S. Mithra
  • Edited By: L. S. Wynn
  • Last Modified Date: 10 October 2019
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Shoji lamps are glowing boxes of bamboo and paper, constructed with thin, wooden slats holding rectangles of white rice paper to diffuse the light bulb's glare. Unlike most lamps, the lampshade and body of a shoji lamp are integrated into one rectilinear unit. Inspired by Japanese shoji screens, the lamp glows serenely and exudes natural calm that resembles sunlight where windows aren't possible.

Table, floor, and hanging lamps are created in the shoji style. There are four materials necessary to every Japanese house: paper, wood, earth, and reed. A lamp contains two of them. Fibrous papers, such as rice or mulberry paper, turn a regular incandescent bulb into a softened, white object. Japanese handmade papers called washi are perfect for this application. Washi don't have the opacity of wood-pulp paper; therefore their translucence diffuses light. Often bamboo lattices the frame. It might be so thin that light can shine through, showing off the grain's intricate patterns. A subtle design element varies with the color and grain of bamboo.


In Japanese interior design, shoji screens fulfill many important roles. First, they can give privacy without enclosing a space, when living space is at a premium. Light and air flow freely with these divisions for proper ventilation. Also, hinged lattice screens are light in weight, so they fold and move easily. This allows a static space to be ever changing and adjusting without becoming stale. Washi breathes, because it is a non-synthetic fiber, distributing humidity. This resilient paper even acts as an insulator. While not all of these functions of the screen translate to the use of a shoji lamp, they still represent the essence of Japanese design.

Elegance, harmony, and nature reinforce Japanese aesthetics and values. As the West becomes frazzled, they increasingly seek furnishings that make the home seem open and peaceful. Either as an accessory in a Western home or integrated into a traditional Japanese room, the shoji lamp brings minimalism and flexibility.


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Post 2

If you want to bring a unique, exotic look to a certain area of your home, these make great accent lamps. The design and drawings on these lamps can bring a special feel to almost any room.

I have a small sun room that has a very Japanese look to it, and adding two oriental lamps next to my chairs put the finishing touches on this room.

This is a very different look than the rest of my home, so when you enter this room you really feel like you are stepping into a different place. In addition to the lamps, I have some tall plants and a small table top fountain which makes a great place to rest and relax.

Post 1

I love the Oriental look of the Shoji lamps and the artistic images that are imprinted on the thin paper. I created a warm atmosphere by hanging some of these on my covered porch.

Because this area is covered, the lamps are not exposed to the elements and give off a soft glow that is very appealing. It is very relaxing to sit on this porch in the evening and enjoy the ambiance these unique lamps provide.

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