Windows as the (natural light) Vessels to the Soul
In comparing the contrasting styles of window types between the Japanese and Dutch culture, I hope to shed light on my own feelings towards window types and natural light based on what I had in my home growing up and my personal preference now.
In the Japanese culture, houses have distinctive paper-covered windows called shoji. They transmit a soft, muted light and don’t allow a street side audience to see anything more than a silhouette of what might be inside. These types of windows embody the Japanese culture in that traditionally they are a more withdrawn and private society.
In the Netherlands, windows are large and portals into the life of the Dutch. They often are set up in a “shotgun” style, so from the street, one is able to see through the front window, into the living area, and right out the back window into the garden. The Dutch people are proud of their possessions and like to showcase them, allowing natural sunlight to create focal points on different areas at different times of the year.
In my house growing up, we had two extremely large picture windows in the living room. They were set up in the same way the Dutch often set up their windows, in the shotgun style. During the day, this was fine, because you could see anyone coming and going, and they let a tremendous amount of light into the room, despite the fact that our front yard was covered in pine trees and the back window was covered by a huge awning. During the nighttime, however, the windows made me feel uncomfortable because I couldn’t see out and everyone could see in. My dad used to say that we were like “fish in a fishbowl” at night, and insisted that the shades be drawn. After high school, I moved to Los Angeles. In the condo that I lived in I had floor to ceiling windows on the entire east wall. They were the only windows that let in natural light in the whole apartment. My level of comfort was higher because the condo was on the fifth floor and overlooked the city. Anyone walking down the street couldn’t really see in, and at night the lights of the city were illuminated. Unlike my home in Ohio, the vastness of the dark of night didn’t seem as overbearing. I think that these two types of windows describes me as a person in that while I am an open person allowing people to see into my life, I am careful about people I don’t know intruding on my privacy.