The Art of 'Noren' (curtains) adorning 'Izakaya' restaurants in Japan

3-panel noren (curtain). Pontocho restaurant. [  source  ]

3-panel noren (curtain). Pontocho restaurant. [ source ]

We have collected a gallery of interesting and beautiful examples of 'noren' that grace the entrances to traditional Izakaya establishments in Japan. If you've forgotten, an izakaya (居酒屋) is a type of informal Japanese drinking establishment that serves food to accompany the drinks. They are casual places for after-work drinking and light fare.


"Izakaya" entered the English language by 1987. It is a compound word consisting of "i" (to stay) and "sakaya" (sake shop), indicating that izakaya originated from sake shops that allowed customers to sit on the premises to drink. Izakaya are sometimes called akachōchin (red lantern) in daily conversation, because these paper lanterns are traditionally found in front of them.


Noren (暖簾) are traditional Japanese fabric dividers, hung between rooms, on walls, in doorways, or in windows. They usually have one or more vertical slits cut from the bottom to nearly the top of the fabric, allowing for easier passage or viewing. Noren are rectangular and come in many different materials, sizes, colors, and patterns.

Exterior noren are traditionally used by shops and restaurants as a means of protection from sun, wind, and dust, and for display of shop name or logo.Names are often Japanese characters, especially kanji, but may be mon emblems, Japanese rebus monograms, or abstract designs. Noren designs are generally traditional, as they are associated with traditional establishments, but modern designs also exist. Interior noren are often used to separate dining areas from kitchen or other preparation areas, also serving to prevent smoke or smells from escaping.


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