Embracing traditional Japanese style and culture in your own fashion and decor can be an enriching way to connect with another part of the world. The calm, refined esthetic of Japan has much to offer when thoughtfully incorporated into your personal look and surroundings. Here is an in-depth guide on how to channel Japanese style in an authentic, meaningful way.

The Origins and History of Japanese Style

To understand Japanese style, it is important to first look at its origins and evolution over time. Many elements of traditional Japanese esthetics emerged during the Edo period between 1603 and 1868, when Japan was largely closed off from outside influence. This allowed a distinctly Japanese cultural identity to solidify and thrive.

Some key aspects that developed during the Edo period include:

  • Minimalism – Removing clutter and focusing on simple, clean lines and forms. This stems from Zen Buddhist influences.
  • Natural materials – Nature and organic elements like wood, paper, bamboo etc are heavily featured.
  • Craftsmanship – Meticulous handcrafted details and techniques are valued over mass production.
  • Tradition – Appreciation of history, with customs passed down over generations.
  • Seasonality – Designs and motifs change with the seasons. Cherry blossoms in spring for instance.

While rooted in tradition, Japanese style has also evolved over time with outside cultural influences and new technology. It finds harmony between preserving the old while embracing the new.

Incorporating Japanese Style into Your Wardrobe

Clothing and accessories are wonderful ways to emulate Japanese style. Look for:


  • Silk – From elegant kimonos to soft scarves, silk is luxurious and smooth.
  • Cotton – Breathable cotton in relaxed silhouettes epitomizes laidback Japanese streetwear.
  • Linen – Cool and casual, linen works for apparel like short sleeved summer tops.


  • Indigo – The distinctive blue hue associated with Japanese denim and workwear.
  • Black – A versatile staple color that provides an understated base for bolder layers.
  • White – Crisp, light white offers a fresh contrast and matches anything.
  • Earth tones – Natural browns, greens, taupes and greys found in the landscape.


  • Kimono – Full-length robes with wide sleeves and tied waists immediately evoke Japanese heritage.
  • Yukata – More casual, lightweight kimonos are perfect for summer.
  • Wraparound skirts – Skirts resembling wraparound aprons have a distinctly Japanese vibe.
  • Oversized tops – Roomy, comfort-focused tops pair well with fitted bottoms.
  • Drop-shoulder – Extended shoulder seams and loose sleeves lend a relaxed silhouette.


  • Geta sandals – Wooden thonged sandals with elevated soles are a traditional footwear choice.
  • Tabi socks – Distinctive split-toe socks worn with traditional thonged footwear.
  • Fans – Decorative folding fans nod to Japanese heritage and provide a unique accessory.
  • Head scarves – Useful for covering hair or as a stylish neck accessory.
  • Jewelry – Look for delicate pieces featuring motifs like cherry blossoms.

Japanese-Inspired Interior Design

There are many routes to take when seeking to infuse more Japanese style into your living space. Keep these elements and concepts in mind:


  • Stick to necessity and avoid clutter. Clear away non-essentials.
  • Allow generous negative space rather than filling up areas.
  • Multifunctional and convertible furnishings provide utility.
  • Declutter surfaces and keep decor sparse.

Natural Materials

  • Incorporate wood, bamboo, rattan, paper, cotton, jute etc.
  • Platform beds and woven mats on the floor evoke tradition.
  • Natural fiber rugs add warmth without excess padding.
  • Wood and rice paper room dividers define spaces gracefully.
  • Display orchids, bonsai trees, branches and dried botanicals.

Neutral Color Palette

  • Cream, beige and brown act as soft backdrops.
  • Off-whites provide a clean base while allowing texture to shine.
  • Moss green and slate blue offer subdued pops of color.
  • Avoid loud colors and patterns that compete visually.


  • Allow ample natural light to flow into rooms.
  • Paper lanterns diffuse glowing warmth at night.
  • Strategically placed lamps illuminate living spaces.
  • Candles enhance mood and provide a soothing glow.


  • Lightweight linen and cotton ideal for window dressings.
  • Use natural fiber area rugs over broad expanses of flooring.
  • Display spare throws and pillows rather than overstuffed furnishings.


  • Seek out handcrafted goods made locally using traditional techniques.
  • Appreciate the artistry and heritage behind ceramics, textiles and more.
  • Handmade doesn’t have to mean rustic – it can also be modern minimalism.
  • Choose a few cherished heirloom pieces to display.

Creating Japanese-Inspired Landscapes

The outdoors is just as important as the indoors when cultivating Japanese style. Apply these garden and landscape ideas:

Rock Gardens

  • Also known as zen gardens, these meditative spaces feature raked gravel and carefully placed rocks and stones.
  • Moss can be allowed to grow between stones, representing nature amidst the order.
  • Bonsai Pruned miniature trees complement the rocky surroundings.

Water Features

  • The tranquil sound of moving water enhances the landscape.
  • Options like koi ponds, fountains and waterfalls range from dramatic to subtle.
  • Place large flat stones stepping across pools and streams.

Plants & Greenery

  • Bonsai -pruned miniature trees require patience and care to maintain.
  • Japanese maple trees introduce striking color and gracefully drooping branches.
  • Bamboo spreads naturally, instantly evoking the Far East.
  • Ferns flourish in shady areas and mesh well with woody textures.
  • Moss thrives when allowed to creep over hardscape.

Lighting & Structures

  • Wood and stone pagodas provide focal points for spiritual reflection.
  • Paper lanterns illuminate paths and sitting areas with soft ambient light.
  • Use large flat stones as stepping stones or benches.
  • Wabi-sabi architecture embraces natural imperfection through use of aged wood and rusted metals.

Eating and Entertaining the Japanese Way

Japanese cuisine and dining culture take simplicity and craftsmanship to heart. Keep these tips in mind for channeling Japanese style during meals and entertaining:


  • Rice – Steamed short or medium grain rice complements most savory dishes.
  • Noodles – Ramen, udon, and soba noodles can star in soothing hot broths.
  • Vegetables – Spinach, onions, sweet potato, daikon radish, eggplant and mushrooms.
  • Fish and Seafood – Salmon, tuna, shrimp and mackerel for sushi, sashimi and more.
  • Meats – Small amounts of chicken, pork and beef accent dishes or are grilled.
  • Broths – Clear, umami-richdashi broth made from kombu seaweed and dried fish.
  • Tofu – Silken tofu makes for smooth desserts; firm tofu holds up in stir fries.
  • Soy – Used in the form of soy sauce, miso and tofu.


  • Showcase the colors and textures of food with artful plating.
  • Opt for smaller sharing plates over individually plated dishes.
  • Lacquerware and ceramics suitable for both prepping and serving food.
  • Chopsticks for most dishes, except noodle soups eaten directly from the bowl.
  • Small side dishes offer additional variety.

Table Setting

  • Low, square or rectangular tables with floor seating on cushions.
  • No tablecloth. Placemats optional underneath dishes.
  • Chopsticks rest horizontally on porcelain chopstick rests.
  • Shared plates and dishes placed at the center of tables.
  • Matcha tea service performed ceremoniously.


  • Make accompanying tea upon guest arrival.
  • Allow guests to serve themselves from shared plates.
  • Slurping noodles is perfectly acceptable and shows enjoyment.
  • Always pass and receive items with two hands.
  • Use trays to prevent directly handling the main dish.
  • Say “itadakimasu” before eating and “gochisosama deshita” after.

Final Thoughts

Infusing your look, home and lifestyle with Japanese influences can serve as a refreshing change of pace from more Westernized aesthetic norms. By doing your research, appreciating authenticity and applying details mindfully, you can do so respectfully. Seek to blend the very best of Japan’s heritage and artisanship with your own personal style rather than following trends superficially. The result will be a living space and way of being that calms your mind while nourishing your spirit.

So there you have it – a comprehensive guide to embracing Japanese style in fashion, decor, landscapes, cuisine and more. What insights resonated most with you? What new inspiration do you feel motivated to try? Allow this to be a jumping off point as you continue along your own creative journey, appreciating the meaningful beauty to be found in Japanese culture.

Frequently Asked Questions About Japanese Style

What fabrics and materials are commonly used in Japanese clothing?

Some quintessentially Japanese fabrics used in traditional and modern clothing include silk, cotton, linen, hemp and wool. These natural fiber materials provide breathability to accommodate Japan’s humid climate.

What is the difference between a yukata and a kimono?

While both are traditional Japanese garments, yukatas are more casual lightweight robes generally worn in summer or to hot spring spas. Kimonos have more structure and formality, being made of heavier fabrics with multiple layers.

What are some key features of Japanese interior design?

Minimalism, natural materials, neutral colors, intentional lighting, craftsmanship, and multifunctional convertible furniture are some hallmarks of Japanese interior design. The esthetic embraces simplicity and bare essentials.

What are common plants and features found in a Japanese garden?

Gravel raked into meditative patterns, large rocks set amidst moss, bonsai trees, bamboo, Japanese maple trees, ferns, paper lanterns, and water features like koi ponds are often seen in Japanese style gardens.

What is the traditional Japanese way of sitting at floor seating?

The traditional formal way of sitting on the floor is seiza, which involves kneeling with legs folded under the thighs and hips resting on the heels. For longer periods of sitting, the more casual cross-legged positioncalled agura is common.

What are some key ingredients and components of Japanese cuisine?

Japanese food relies heavily on seafood, vegetables, noodles, rice, dashi broth, mushrooms, tofu, eggs, green tea, and umami flavors from soy sauce and miso. Dishes emphasize subtle, delicate and balanced flavors.

So in summary, embracing Japanese influences allows you to infuse calm, simplicity, craftsmanship and connection with nature into your personal esthetic. By being mindful and avoiding superficial appropriation, you can channel the best of Japan’s cultural traditions into your daily life.