Friday, April 29, 2011

Will Miss #314 - the genkan

The genkan is the Japanese word for the sunken entryway that is in every Japanese home. What's so great about it? Well, let's start with the fact that they are usually made with outdoor tile, concrete, or other durable surfaces. Dirty or rough-soled shoes, rain or snow run-off, etc. don't damage them and there is no expectation that the area is going to look fashionable or beautiful. They're also very convenient for resting a dripping umbrella without fear of warping flooring or soaking a rug or carpet. Additionally, the raised lip allows you to sit on the clean floor with your feet in the genkan to tie your shoelaces. It's much more comfortable (especially for people with back problems) putting on shoes in this way than bending down for the duration.

I think the genkan is a pretty nifty and practical architectural element, and I'll miss it.