How to Incorporate Plants In a Japanese Home

Home decor is a window into one's persona. You can tell a lot about someone based on how they decorate their home. That being said, home decor is also a matter of culture. Today we'll be taking a look into Japanese home decor, or more specifically, how plants fit into the picture. Stick around, and you might find that some of these solutions could work for your home as well. Let's get to it!

A traditional Japanese garden is beautiful – and very high maintenance.

A traditional Japanese garden is beautiful – and very high maintenance.

The Significance of Plants in Japanese Culture

Japanese culture is interesting and multifaceted. There's so much depth to it that one can spend an entire lifetime peeling back its countless layers and exploring every piece of this massive puzzle. Though maybe not the first thing that comes to mind, plants are one such piece.

If you go through Japanese history, you can notice a trend of attributing various meanings to different plants. For example, the plum blossom tree signifies fortitude. The Japanese appreciated the fact that this tree blooms so early that it's catching the end of winter. On a similar note, Azaleas are synonymous with modesty — one of the core traits of the Japanese culture as a whole. And of course, the cherry blossom is not only the national flower but is known worldwide as a symbol of Japan.

How do Plants Fit In a Japanese Home?

Despite being an important part of their culture, the Japanese rarely have an abundance of plants in their homes. In fact, throughout history, most domestic plants were found in what is now known as traditional Japanese gardens.

Without going too deep into that subject, we'll only mention that Japanese gardens were and still are much more than just the sum of their plant contents. They represent a place of peace and tranquility. Even though you may not be able to achieve that type of atmosphere inside an average Japanese home, you can still preserve the core idea.

The Accents

Incorporating plants into any home is all about accents. In other words, you want to use the plant as a source of life force (quite literally) in an otherwise sterile space. This concept is even more important in the often minimalist homes of Japan.

Using plants to accentuate different rooms is akin to cultivating a Japanese garden in order to reach that cohesion of art, aesthetics, and spirituality.

Choosing the right plants is key, but so is the container you set it in. Professionals argue that using the right planter or pot can make all the aesthetic difference. As mentioned above, Japanese homes are generally minimalist, meaning that a more complex pot design could very well put a nick in the whole visual concept. Similarly, while a large vase in a western home may contain a loose assortment of flowers, the Japanese art of Ikebana, or flower arranging, is more often a very subtle and minimal affair.

The Art of Plant Growing

Just about everyone is familiar with Bonsai — the art of growing plants in such a way that stunts their growth. However, not everyone knows that bonsai is just one of the several popular plant growing techniques. There are a few more that perfectly match the subject of our discussion. We'll focus on Kokedama.

Compact but vibrantly alive, Kokedama plants are perfect for a minimalist Japanese home.

Compact but vibrantly alive, Kokedama plants are perfect for a minimalist Japanese home.


Kokedama is a fairly advanced technique, but also one that offers the most impressive results. The idea behind kokedama is quite radical. What you're doing is essentially creating a natural pot using moss. More specifically, you're making a ball of dirt, with a plant inside, that is wrapped in moss.

The results are quite stunning. Kokedama plants (you can use a variety of plants for this) grow to become bundles of life. The moss you're using to wrap the plant is also alive and going through its own cycles.

The best part about this technique is the fact that kokedama plants require no special maintenance as far as keeping it alive goes. However, there is extra maintenance and work involved to help it retain its shape and stature.

Forming Bonds with Your Plants

If you've heard about bonsai trees, you know that success with this technique mainly depends on how dedicated you are to your tree. It takes work. While you're working on your plant, you're building a bond with it.

The key to a balanced Japanese home is finding the exact amount of plants that you can take care of, and then using the optimal technique to give them the attention they deserve. Over time, these plants will become more than just home decor — they will become a part of your routine.

Owning plants and actively cultivating them using any of the techniques mentioned in this article is a great way to decompress after a difficult day. That being said, the best way to get started is to start slow. Pick one plant, find the right place for it in your home and spend a few weeks with it. By then, you should know whether this type of plant care and interaction is for you.

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