The greatest concentration of movable panels occurs around the periphery in close layers of parallel sheets. To keep that boundary fully responsive to changing conditions, a number of varied filtrations are employed, resulting in multiple tracks for a single opening, with each track carrying one of many partitions, whose superimposition allows control over much of the perimeter. Sliding along the outermost tracks are solid wood shutters (amado), deployed to protect against storms and intruders, but also reduce heat loss in winter. In the morning these shutters are removed to open the interior to light and fresh air, transforming the building into a pavilion. During hot summers the boundary facing into a garden can be subtly adjusted by unfurling rolls of sudare, knotted together from strips of bamboo and hung from the eaves as a porous curtain. These loosely assembled blinds intercept sunlight while remaining pervious to air and view, and have the further advantage of easily rolling up or down, at times drawn up out of view and others partially unfurled or stretched like a veil from ceiling to floor. Yoshijima House, Takayama, outer sudare and inner shoji, including sliding screens in the transom above Translucent shoji screens form the innermost lining of the perimeter, gently diffusing the light they receive and reappearing inside to propagate the illumination from room to room. Giving their motion a sensuous as well as practical power is a construction of thin wooden frames, onto whose outer face are pasted sheets of coarse and long-fibred paper. Sliding shoji can instantly change a room’s size and enclosure, but also its overall feeling and atmosphere, opening to make a room expand and merge with nature, or closing to bathe it in a soft white glow (p. 76). The more a room is enveloped by this peaceful illumination, the more it acquires a ‘dream-like luminescence’, according to Jun’ichiro Tanizaki, a ‘feeling as though some misty film were blunting my vision. The light from the pale white paper,’ he continues, ‘creates a world of confusion where dark and light are indistinguishable.’58 Taizo-in Temple, Myoshin-ji, Kyoto, comparison of closed and open shoji, with sudare partly unfurled beyond
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Adding an extra dimension to these kinetic powers are the yukimi (‘snow-viewing’)-sho//, as surrounding the shoin of the Kitamura House, in Kyoto, by Sutejiro Kitamura. Beyond their sliding movements and ease of removal, the yukimi-sho/i contain two layers that can be vertically adjusted, one paper and the other clear glass, allowing the former to slide up and open a horizon onto the garden without exposing the room to rain or cold.
Complementing the sho/i within rooms are similarly sized and lightweight but opaque sliding screens (fusuma), whose frame is pasted on both sides with sheets of heavy paper (as seen in the Honmaru Palace; above). The result is a sliding wall that can block out light and cut down on sound. Working within their own network of rectilinear tracks and in combination with sho/i and fixed walls, the fusuma permit endless permutations in the character and awareness of rooms, and the relations between rooms and with nature.
Sliding panels can be moved singly or in tandem to close off a space or fuse it with others, retain a slight refuge while opening up a discreet glimpse or wide vista, closing the building into separate cells or opening it up entirely to gardens. Unlike Western doors that open or close holes in the wall, Japanese partitions open or close the wall itself, and finely regulate the scope and direction of sightlines. Complementing these broad spatial powers are small sliding screens with specific and highly focused effects: the marumado, a circular window augmented sometimes with sho/i screens; the mairado, a wooden partition to access the bath or toilet; and the muso-mado, whose sliding panel of alternating gaps and boards can ventilate the kitchen or bath.
Zuishin-in Temple, Kyoto, horizontally hinged shitomido, held in place by metal fixtures with long rods bent into hooks (shitomizuri)
One last device perfected in Japan must be mentioned: the shitomido, which is used to enwrap large ceremonial halls in Zen Buddhist temples and such imperial villas as the Kyoto-gosho. These batteries of huge wooden panels are hinged at the top, allowing them to be swung out and up like a series of garage doors and fastened horizontally with metal clips to which they attach, so that the perimeter can be opened up fully or partially to the veranda and world beyond.