Japanese Kitchen Design

Experience a sense of harmony, simplicity, and calmness in your home with these Japanese-style kitchens.

Japanese Kitchen Design Featured Photo

Japanese kitchens have traditionally been noted for their simplicity. They boast a modesty that any minimalist can’t resist. From natural forces to the Zen concept of wabi-sabi, you can make your kitchen into a sanctuary of tranquility and harmony.

The way Japanese people prepare and cook food has an influence on how their kitchens are designed. They spend a lot of time in the kitchen because they love food and take pride in creating it. As a result, their kitchens are likely to be designed as more functional than stylish. Most Japanese kitchens are often designed with simple wood cabinets and black or white appliances. There is beauty in simplicity.

Modern Japanese kitchens often feature architectural elements like integrated furnishings and kitchen cabinets. You’ll also see open shelves or glass doors to let in natural light. Which may help achieve a more light and airy atmosphere.

The good news is that the concept of Japanese kitchen design is fairly easy to integrate into your kitchen. Here are some of the most simple, yet elegant Japanese kitchen designs to inspire you. 


In Japan, Wabi-sabi is an old aesthetic theory based on Zen Buddhism. It is the perspective or idea of seeing beauty in all aspects of nature’s imperfection.

As I’ve said earlier, Japanese people tend to prioritize functionality above aesthetics. But, this Japanese kitchen design does not result in a boring cooking experience or aesthetic. Wabi-Sabi is the concept of keeping things simple and in their purest form while still catering to elegance.

Adopt a simple design and use neutral tones. Keep any surfaces as clear of clutter as possible. When creating a Japanese kitchen relying on the Wabi-Sabi idea, woodsy materials are also a good choice.

This kitchen’s live reclaimed wood dining table gives a rough rustic appeal. In classic wabi-sabi form, the cracked texture of the carved wood lends to the beauty of the hourglass stools. The whole scene is old-fashioned. But that’s what makes it so special.


Shoji Screens

Shoji screens are a popular piece in many traditional Japanese kitchens. Using them instead of a regular kitchen window offers flexibility. Shoji screens can cater to any part of your home, as long as you have enough space to fit them.

They are essentially sliding doors, which allow you to let natural light in. The Shoji screens are typically made out of wood and translucent paper. But you can opt for glass material, which provides the same airy effect throughout your entire space. Both the traditional and modern designs of Shoji screens will give your kitchen the zen feel it needs.

Shoji Screens


Shibui is an aesthetic concept which means simplicity, subtle, and unobtrusive charm. Just like Wabi-Sabi, when designing based on this aesthetic, make sure to keep things simple by sticking to the basics.

Your approach should be to discard decorations and showcase a work of art that is modest and functional. While having this unassuming charm.

The simple arrangements of furnishings of this Japanese kitchen have those well-thought qualities. Generous space offers maneuverability around the kitchen. Imagine having a kitchen with all the essentials. But you won’t notice them as you enter the room. And that’s where I call it magic.


Embrace Nature


Many consider applying the Kanso principles and adopting simple furniture or elements. This is in order to appease one’s need for calmness and minimalism. The notion is part of the group of ancient Japanese beliefs that includes Wabi-Sabi, combining the traditional with modern ideas.

So, if you want to revitalize your entire house and infuse it with good vibes, you should look into the principles of this interior design. From here you can start your approach focused on simplicity.


Natural Materials

The refreshing touch of nature encourages energy and motivation, and the Japanese kitchen’s simple design puts you in harmony with nature. In your Japanese kitchen design, you may want to choose earthy tones and neutral colors. Beige or stone is a good color choice to use.

Forget excessively bright colors in your kitchen design and adopt white as a contrasting color. Put some lush, leafy house plants into your design to evoke a sense of connection to nature. These give a rich range of colors and a relaxing ambiance.

Natural Materials

Integrated Living Area

Since cooking Japanese cuisine takes time, an inclusive living or lounging area allows the cook to interact with family members. However, this is not the sole factor why an open-plan layout is preferable. Concentrate on maximizing natural airflow. Which translates into an open-plan design with fewer accessories.

Integrated Living Area

Simple Open Shelves

Upper cabinetry is unusual in most Japanese homes since the simplicity of open shelves is preferred. They provide no clutter or obvious embellishment on such shelves. It’s a smart storage solution. Particularly for small kitchens. And open shelves also encourage an airy atmosphere.

Simple Open Shelves

Suspended Racks

Suspended racks, which are identical to open shelves but just suspended from cabinets or the ceiling are for efficient storage. They are a modern touch to Japanese kitchens. Metal or wood bars support the shelves. You can either leave them unloaded or add some greenery. Suspended floating racks are great, both functionally and aesthetic-wise.

Suspended Racks

Hang Your Utensils

Since Japanese kitchens are smaller, alternate solutions to storage such as S-hook hangers are useful. Especially for holding smaller utensils. As a result, cookware and cutlery adorn a wall. Adding to the kitchen’s clean and discreet style.

Hang Your Utensils

Minimalist Beauty

I was impressed by the amount of artistry that was put into this kitchen as I read about the remodeling tale of this Tokyo apartment. It exemplifies Japan’s philosophy of finding beauty in minimalism.

The kitchen has a long, thin floor and is organized around the living and eating areas. It’s complete with a classic Japanese doorway called the doma that serves as the owner’s office.

Do you see those tall, large cabinet doors? Well, those are folding doors that conceal the kitchen counter and storage area. The flat has a minimalistic style whenever the screens are shut, masking the clutter in the kitchen from sight. A genius concept if you ask me.

Minimalist Beauty

Why Japanese Kitchen Designs Matter in Small Spaces

The concept of minimalism in a Japanese-style kitchen helps elevate small spaces. It maximizes the room you have, providing only smart storage. And it’s focused more on leaving out the non essentials. Japanese designs are a minimalist’s dream for sure.

The open floor plan of Japanese kitchens provides a sense of substance to your space, no matter how small it is. Try to stick to neutral colors, as bolder tones can make an already small space cluttered.

Open shelves are also preferable over boxy cabinets in a Japanese kitchen. An open pantry also allows a more cohesive look, which in return, can help a small space appear more spacious.

Another reason why a Japanese kitchen design is more ideal for small spaces is because it’s dedicated to including only the basics. Fancy nooks and accessories have no room in these kitchens. Japanese kitchen designs prove you don’t need all the embellishments to create an inviting space.

Tips on Japanese Kitchen Design

Japanese kitchen designs are easy to integrate into your home. However, you’ll still need some basic knowledge on how to improve your design. Especially if you have smaller space. You may want to focus on picking the right colors, materials, and essential items you’ll need in your design.

Pick Neutral Color Palette

Because many Japanese kitchens boast color simplicity, consider sticking to neutral tones. The goal here is to maximize whatever space you got. Using soft, neutral tones not only calms the space but also makes it look uncluttered. A neutral palette is also easier to decorate with pieces that aren’t hard to find to match the aesthetics.

A single color palette works fine, too. After all, you don’t want the major pieces in your kitchen to compete with each other. This may be overwhelming to the senses.


Natural materials are a staple in Japanese kitchens. Consider having your kitchen island built with wood. And be consistent with your dining table and stools.

Another kitchen component you may want to consider going the raw route for is your shelves. Having a tall open pantry is also a great idea to maximize your kitchen.

Keep in mind that synthetic materials have no place in a Japanese kitchen design. What sets these kitchens apart from others is the way they calm the senses through their purity — it would be a nice idea to remind yourself of this when designing a Japanese-style kitchen.

Ditch the Kitchen Table

If you have ample space to accommodate a kitchen table, that is fine. But for smaller space, a bar should suffice. Just do a couple of tall bar stools and you’re good to go. Have the bar built at your kitchen countertop, but this may appear to be an eyesore to some, at least for me. But it would work for kitchens with small square footage.

It’s not a requirement to not skip a kitchen table. Since the main principle of Japanese kitchen designs focuses more on practicality than fashion, then this may be a helpful tip.

Embrace Wabi-Sabi

Wabi-sabi is an aesthetic principle that — while it doesn’t have a direct English translation — essentially means embracing the imperfections and ruggedness of nature. This means using soft, comfortable elements that wake up the senses when in contact with nature.

It’s all about finding the beauty in flawed features. Which actually makes sense if you think about it. The philosophical concept of Wabi-Sabi brings positivity to a space filled with beautiful deformities. It’s about focusing on the imperfect elements in your kitchen. And accepting them as an integral part of your space.

What Exactly Are the Kanso Principles in Japanese Kitchens?

Kanso is a Japanese Zen philosophy term that emphasizes simplicity. Just like Wabi-sabi and Shibui, it’s all about staying focused on the basics. Clutter-free, and useful in terms of aesthetics and Japanese interior design. This means that your kitchen should be simple and functional. As well as be free of unnecessary features.

Forget excessive, extravagant, and excessive decorations. Kanso is all about moderation, a modest atmosphere, and acquiring essentially what you truly require. Whether it’s a range, a seat, or a work table.

Is It Common for Japanese Kitchens To Be Open Floor Plan?

Japanese kitchens are often open-plan spaces.  Many families tend to spend a lot of time in their kitchens, so it’s also not uncommon to see lounges integrated into them. Minimalism is a common lifestyle, and you’ll often find open shelving in Japanese kitchens. 

Many homes and apartments in Japan are small, so keeping the spaces open is paramount. The openness leaves room for families to gather and socialize while preparing meals or doing household chores.