What’s a Ranma?

Japanese Ranma with Falcon Motif

One of Jcollector’s most popular items is the Japanese ranma. In the West, designers and homeowners have found striking ways in which to display these architectural wonders. Above or alongside doors or windows, inset to customize coffee tables or consoles, installed as dramatic structural elements, their uses are endless.

Japanese Ranma from Buddhist Temple

For over a thousand years, ranma or transom panels were used in Japan to fill the space between the top of sliding doors or partition screens and the ceiling. Introduced during the Heian Period (9th to the 12th centuries), ranma allowed light and air to pass between interior rooms when the sliding doors (shoji) or fusuma doors were closed. Ranma were used in all types of Japanese buildings.

Japanese Ranma Detail

Today, ranma not only serve the practical purpose of allowing ventilation and light into the interior of a house or temple, but are exceptional works of art. Their crafting ranges from carved three-dimensional pictorial scenes and geometric slatted designs to sublime, natural wood slices of trees. Generally, the more intricately carved and three-dimensional, the older the ranma. Ranma may have black lacquered wood frames or be bordered in a natural finish.

Japanese Ranma Detail

There are many types of transom. Bold carving helps bring out the best qualities in the wood grain of one . A wonderful balanced open-work design is achieved in another. Some feature precise bars or repeating elements, others include decorative cartouches. Many are little more than a frame, employing negative space for impact, but all represent the Japanese ideal of beauty combined with function. Besides wood, bamboo is often employed in ranma as both the material and motif.

Ranma represent wooden sculpture at it best, featuring breathtaking imagery from nature, including pine, maple, bamboo, cherry and plum trees and blossoms, as well as sea and mountain landscapes. They make a unique and eye-catching addition to any interior!

Japanese Ranma - Geometrical Motif with Cartouches

Japanese Ranma for Tearoom


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The Japanese Tea Ceremony

The Japanese tea ceremony, chanoyu, or “the way of tea” is an ancient tradition or practice featuring the ceremonial preparation and service of matcha or powdered green tea.  Strongly influenced by Zen Buddhism, the tea ceremony involves knowledge of formal gestures and language as well as the techniques for the proper presentation and consumption of cha.

Because many of our customers practice the tea ceremony, Jcollector offers a great selection of items related to the tradition.  These include handcrafted tea bowls or chawan in a great variety of celebrated ceramic styles, like bizen, raku, seto, karatsu and oribe.

In addition, we have exquisite natsume and chaire tea storage caddies, trays and plates for serving sweets or even the more formal kaiseki full-course meal,  kettles, braziers and mizusashi for heating or holding water, and even tea tansu, the fabulous and varied cabinets used for storing tea ceremony accessories and utensils.

A wide range of activities are related to the Japanese tea ceremony.  These include ikebana flower arranging (see our wonderful vases and jardinières) and calligraphy (check out our Zen scrolls and calligraphy brushes).


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