Shoin Room, 17th century
The grand Momoyama spirit is perpetuated in this formal Japanese reception room. Modeled on the principal room at the Kangaku-in, a guest residence built in 1600 at the Onjoji temple near Lake Biwa outside Kyoto, this Shoin-style room was built in 1985 by Japanese craftsmen using materials and techniques authentic to the Momoyama period (15731615), under the exacting supervision of Kakichi Suzuki, an eminent architectural historian who was then an official of the Japanese Cultural Agency. The refined proportions of this room, with its large alcove (tokonoma), flooring of grass mats (tatami), and decorated sliding doors (fusuma) for walls, marked the culmination of two centuries of developments in interior architecture.
The shoin (literally, "study") was originally part of a reading room in a Zen monastery fitted with shelves and an alcove near a window. With the increased appreciation and collection of Chinese paintings and utensils during the Muromachi period (13921573), the alcove was enlarged and devoted to the display of works of art and the tokonoma was developed to constitute an essential feature of Japanese formal rooms. This room's large size, with its capacious tokonoma filling one wall and its gold-leafed doors defining others, is characteristic of the grand rooms of the Momoyama era in temples and aristocratic mansions, as well as in the ostentatious castles of the newly risen warlords.