The Fascinating Japanese Style Kitchen

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Last updated: March 23, 2023

In the United States, a Japanese-style kitchen has become popular in recent years. Today, they are even popular with some big American home brands like IKEA and Home Depot because contemporary minimalism makes an entire house a better place to live in on a daily basis. Traditionally, this modern kitchen design differentiates itself by using wooden objects, a common light wooden frame, and white and black colored small appliances to create a perfectly functional kitchen with much space.

Soft whites and neutral colours are common as bare essentials and shallow drawers to give a perfect hint of Japan.

One can describe the Japanese-style interiors as balanced, clean, pure, and uncluttered. Peace and harmony are the core feelings you get whenever you enter a Japanese-style kitchen. It really is about balance, natural light, cleanliness, and purity.

There is a commitment to simplicity and avoiding the need for unnecessary items. For the committed, the best thing for a minimalist kitchen is something as simple as what primary color is used, the type of light wood used, and how counter tops match any Japanese-inspired kitchen.

Did you know porcelain counters are cheaper than granite countertops? Something to consider since less cleaning is required and in terms of porcelain requires less mineral oil for re-sealing and upkeep.

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For decades, the natives of Japan have tried to embrace the Zen philosophy of Wabi-Sabi in architecture. As a result, they use these architectural designs to fight and resist natural forces. Although the Japanese renovate homes every few years, their minimalist principle is non-negotiable.

So many people are now applying the Japanese styles in their interiors, including the kitchen. Once famous for big-named restaurants, there has been a shift to homes since most people are now rediscovering the authenticity of Japanese cuisine and the minimalist approach. The Japanese minimalist aesthetic approach is currently experiencing a wave of popularity and influencing homeowners to incorporate clean finishes, straight lines into their homes.

This article will cover Japanese minimalism, a sharp tip or two, and highlight key features of a Japanese-style kitchen, to help guide you through planning for such a kitchen.


Below are some of the things to consider about Japanese homes and kitchen-style design.

Wood and Natural Colors

You eventually notice that Japanese interior design makes use of kanso principles (adopting simplicity and clutter elimination) with the use of light solid wood and grain in a typical Japanese kitchen. This minimalist design is clear and visible with good quality contemporary décor. Wood is perfect because of the humid climate characterizing the island. Also, the unpredictable weather patterns make wood the only option and ideal building material. The wood can resist earthquakes, mold, and typhoons. Today, the kitchen depends on natural materials with different steel, stones, and concrete. However, the colors used remain neutral and pure such as black, white, brown, and grey.

Cabinet Screens

The Japanese kitchen design does not use handles on its cabinets or sliding screens. Most of the cabinets have screens that look like the shoji screen. Most homes even use the shoji screens made from washi paper and have wooden frames today. These screens not only save enough space but are also affordable and lightweight. Adding handles in the cabinet is considered unnecessary.

Integrated Living

Japanese kitchen design is really about open-plan kitchens, which allow the cook to socialize with other family members. Japanese cooking is known to be among the most prolonged and time-consuming of cooking experiences! The Japanese people are accustomed to allowing home cooks (usually the sushi chefs ) time to interact with the family and other members in an open space and why the seating area is planned carefully around an open-plan kitchen layout. The kitchen really is a small part of the broader living space.

However, this was not the only reason. The Japanese have a history of rebuilding Japanese houses before it is over 30 years older. However, they maintain the original structures.

The architects ensure there is enough ventilation, maintain open layouts but with fewer furnishings. According to the Japanese culture, walls hinder free movement and therefore they prefer using shoji screens to divide rooms. They offer a fresh look in a traditional Japanese home.

Small Kitchen Area with Small Tools

A Japanese kitchen function is rooted in culture, unlike the western kitchen function. For the Japanese, social life and home life are two different things, eliminating the need for a big kitchen to entertain. The smaller the kitchen, the smaller the appliances required.

For cooking, a Japanese-style kitchen will have a two-plate gas or sometimes an induction stovetop with a fish broiler on top. Ovens are built-in, and you will hardly see a dishwasher in the kitchen and maybe a single kitchen cabinet. However, with all the other appliances being small, the basins are ordinarily large. A rubbish bin is discretely available.

Floating Shelves

Japanese kitchen designs usually have open shelves. It isn’t easy to spot upper cabinets in this kitchen, and the most preferred ones are open shelves. The kitchen can have a single or two floating shelves with plates and cups arranged naturally on one side of the wall. Close to the open shelves is a magnetic strip used to hold the carving and chopping knives or a petty knife. These shelves are in the right spot for needed functionality and are free from any decorations.

Hidden Worktop

Since the kitchen design is open plan, most of the worktops are barriers that hide the cooking and preparation areas, helping eliminate any cluttered appearance. Some homes might not have clutter and may not require the Kanso principle. Clutter elimination allows individuals to concentrate on what they are doing at the time.


Japanese kitchen designs usually have adjacent dining. Some Japanese can even have the dining incorporated into the kitchen. Since cooking takes a lot of time, it is possible to socialize with the family in an adjacent dining area. The standard dining design is t-shaped with a sitting area located perpendicular to the kitchen counter. Chairs accompany the dining table but still illustrate the simplicity and modesty in the best way possible.


In Japanese kitchens, it is uncommon to see things like decorations because they like to maintain simplicity. The Japanese pay attention to the smallest of small details. It was Japan that really impressed Steve Jobs and influenced Apple’s minimalist style and design. The design of the kitchen space is composed entirely of natural elements, beauty and considers storage space. The minimalistic approach used symbolizes imperfection, which is tied to life and adds to the aesthetic balance.

The sense of openness and balance throughout a Japanese kitchen creates a peaceful atmosphere. If you model your home this way, it will be hard to ignore with a pop of colour to boot!

Suspended Shelves

Like open shelves but placed too high for storage, these racks are contemporarily added to the kitchens to symbolize their culture. The shelves are suspended using strips of wood and sometimes metal. The racks hold plants or items used infrequently.

Planning for Japanese Kitchen Design

There are many concepts and principles for Japanese style kitchens, thereby creating a perfect spot in your house that is pleasurable to use for work or pleasure.

Plan Carefully

Japanese design is small, and that means the kitchen must also be small. Nevertheless, these occupants have been used to these small spaces and can live comfortably and ensure that they have all they need. The key is to stay organized. Plan so that everything fits in place, no matter how small the area, allowing easy access whenever needed.

Wabi-Sabi Aesthetic

Wabi and Sabi are important Japanese concepts. The Japanese use the term to mean embracing the imperfect and transient things, which includes accepting and appreciating material and objects that are natural, being simple, modest, and economical. Simple and clean lines are familiar with Japanese kitchens, bringing out the kitchen’s simplicity.

Shoji Screens

Shoji screens are also standard in Japanese interiors, including in the kitchen, and are often used to partition a room, and they slide, meaning that they only take a little space. Shoji screens from Japan have soft translucent paper inside a wood frame. You can use the same design with wooden or painted frames with glass inserts on entry or cabinet doors. The whole idea of using these screens is to let in a lot of light and to act as easy room dividers.

Apply the Shibui Principle

As mentioned earlier, the Japanese design element represents modesty. For the Japanese kitchen, the principle of shibui means that with the simple things used, which are commonly understated, this is where the beauty lies. Kitchen objects must be simple, pure, and straightforward, without the addition of unnecessary decorations. You can achieve this by using natural colors, flat fronts, a functional layout, and handles with simple style.

Incorporate Nature

The Japanese culture is about embracing nature, and this means even with the designing of interiors, nature is an important concept. With the kitchen, adding some plants will help embrace nature. A natural touch would consider an indoor garden for the living room area or the kitchen.


Fukinsei means perfectly imbalanced. This principle is not for individuals who like to have a perfect kitchen. Incorporating this principle into your Japanese-style kitchen means that you need to accept that imperfection is part of life and existence, like the Japanese Zen symbol. We are reminded in our daily work, to our readers, that perfection is a worthy goal but not worthy of lost sleep. We are human, after all.

Frequently Asked Questions

Many ask what type of knives to use in this type of kitchen? There are different types of knives in terms of shapes, sizes, and functions. A gyuto knife is a standard knife in the kitchen, and it is also known as a chef’s knife. It is an all-purpose knife. The blade is stainless steel; hence it’s lightweight and has better edges. Other types of knives include the santoku, sujihiki, petty, honsuki, hankotsu, nakiri, or single bevel Kiritsuke. Some are used for boning and others to cut beef. Remember, hot water does not damage knives. Some knives can even do all the kitchen cutting tasks.

What Typical Cabinets in a Japanese-Style Kitchen?

A Japanese-style kitchen utilizes traditional Japanese wooden cabinets with natural tones. These cabinets are typically made of wood and hanged in the kitchen with metal. They are then used to store plants or lesser used objects.

What Kind of Sinks are Used in Japanese-Style Kitchens?

As mentioned earlier, Japanese kitchen design is small, offering a space enough for one person. In the same way, the sinks are also small, usually made of steel for durability. As a result, you must purchase small pots that can fit under the sink to help hold more utensils and dry them. Also, the sinks in these kitchens come with a plastic filter that collects all food or other large particles from going into the drain.

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