Lifestyle | Kateigaho International Japan Edition

Artistry unfolds: Byōbu are a versatile element of interior design

Nearly all of the designs on traditional byōbu folding screens take nature as their theme. By contrast, according to Yoshihiro Takishita, the majority of Western paintings focus on the human figure. Byōbu art also leaves generous areas of empty space on the panels, an effect that further enhances their attractiveness as interior decor that never tires the eye.

Gallery wall: Private concerts at the Takishita residence are followed by buffet-style refreshments. A friend gave Takishita the idea of utilizing this six-panel byōbu from the Edo Period— which can form a perfect right angle when folded in the middle — for corner arrangements like this one.
Gallery wall: Private concerts at the Takishita residence are followed by buffet-style refreshments. A friend gave Takishita the idea of utilizing this six-panel byōbu from the Edo Period— which can form a perfect right angle when folded in the middle — for corner arrangements like this one.

Painting genres and techniques also vary widely: Byōbu may display anything from a finely detailed rendering of a festival procession to a single wild boar rampaging across the entire screen — or a number of small paintings on separate sheets may be pasted onto a single panel.

Mix and match: In a quiet corner of the house, Takishita raised this Taisho Era (1912-26) screen off the floor so that the painting can be enjoyed by someone seated on the sofa. The landscape is painted on silk. Using metal or wood brackets to hang byōbu on a wall makes them easy to put up and take down. When clients purchase screens from Takishita's collection, he provides custom-made brackets.
Mix and match: In a quiet corner of the house, Takishita raised this Taisho Era (1912-26) screen off the floor so that the painting can be enjoyed by someone seated on the sofa. The landscape is painted on silk. Using metal or wood brackets to hang byōbu on a wall makes them easy to put up and take down. When clients purchase screens from Takishita’s collection, he provides custom-made brackets.

Takishita chooses byōbu of diverse designs for his rooms, based on such considerations as the function and atmosphere of each space.

One fish, two fish: A unique painting that showcases varieties of fish decorates this byōbu. Though the work looks surprisingly modern, it was actually painted in the late Edo Period, then remounted much later on a two-panel screen during the Showa Era (1926-89).
One fish, two fish: A unique painting that showcases varieties of fish decorates this byōbu. Though the work looks surprisingly modern, it was actually painted in the late Edo Period, then remounted much later on a two-panel screen during the Showa Era (1926-89).

In a parlor where people take afternoon tea, for example, he will place a screen illustrated with an interesting subject that is likely to stimulate conversation. Several of his byōbu are decorated with seasonal flowering plants, and just as people arrange flowers in season, he replaces one screen with another over the course of the year.

This is the third installment in a four-part series on architect Yoshihiro Takishita’s antique byōbu collection.