The shōtengai (shopping street) in Katsuyama, a rural hamlet located on the banks of the Asahi River in Okayama Prefecture, wouldn't look completely out of place in a Richard Scarry picture book for young children.

The doorways to the buildings that line the paved street are decorated with a wide variety of colorful noren curtains that signify the products or services that are available behind the drapes. An illustration of a plump ripe tomato spread across three curtains hangs outside a fruit and vegetable store, a chirpy red Volkswagen Beetle flutters in front of the local mechanic's garage and a friendly devil clutching a cup of coffee dances in the wind outside Oninosumika (The Devil's Den), the town's bijou tavern. Even the tiny church on the main street has a noren positioned in its alcove.

These noren typically come in one shape — rectangular — but in many sizes and an array of colors, and each signifies an element of the house or building it adorns.