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What are Noren and Why You Need Them

Noren: All You Need to Know

If you have visited Japanese restaurants and shops, it is highly likely that you have come across the noren, which is a regular fixture at Japanese establishments, regardless of whether you are in a city or a village.

This is a curtain-like piece of clothing that has an important place in the Japanese culture and can found across the country — both in homes and businesses — which you will find if you travel around Japan. If you want to learn more about norens but don’t know who to turn to, this guide will act as a helpful primer to the noren and its uses.

What Does Noren Actually Mean?

The Japanese fabric used as curtains or dividers between different rooms or simply placed against a window or wall is traditionally known as noren. The most common form of the noren will feature at least one slit that is made out from the bottom of the cloth almost all the way to the curtain rod.

In some cases, there may be more. While it is usually rectangular in shape, there is no limitation on what kind of material is used to make the noren or the kind of colors, designs and sizes that it is available in.

Noren are traditional Japanese fabric dividers hung between rooms, on walls, in doorways, or in windows.

They usually have one or more vertical slits cut from the bottom to nearly the top of the fabric, allowing for easier passage or viewing. Noren are rectangular and come in many different materials, sizes, colors and patterns.

Why Do Japanese Restaurants Have Curtains?

When it comes to utility, the slit between the fabric allows patrons to enter the establishment with greater ease or just peek through if required. The uses of noren aren’t limited to just that.

In most cases, the noren will be indicative of what you can expect when you go through. A lot of restaurants and izikayas get creative with the noren in order to showcase what is being offered inside or attract more people with their creativity. It is also a very useful tool when you want to get the maximum utility out of limited space by compartmentalizing.

Things to Know

In many cases, the noren used will become a big part of the establishment’s brand with people associating certain designs with certain places. Not only do lend the business a distinctive touch, but they are also very helpful in keeping dust, dirt and bad smells at bay.

Interestingly, there was a time when the noren was also used by customers to clean their hands as they walked out of the restaurant. In such a case, your popularity could be easily ascertained by looking at the noren!

If you are wondering whether you need to match the grommets to the rods you are using to hang the noren, you will be happy to know that there are no such complications involved.

Norens can just be slipped over the curtain rod you have in mind and adjusted to fit the door or window that you are using it for.