Traditional Japanese style in Web Design

Traditional Japanese style in Web Design

So because of my current job (e-commerce related for a kimono company here in Kyoto in case you don’t know about me) I get to study a lot about traditional designs (柄), styles, colors and types of kimonos and fabrics, and then I have to mix all that with the front-end side of things. In the meantime at least one or two things have stuck in my mind about the foundations of traditional Japanese design and how to use it. The hardest part of course is to how keep the harmony and balance, without making things look neither dull nor intense. Simple, yet strong.

And just like I get to mix traditional Japan with technology there are other designers who have long ago excelled at that and here are some examples of those websites. There are of course many other excellent examples of the use of Japanese style (some people call it Zen) in web design, however for the purposes of this article I will just focus on those with a pure traditional Japanese elegance.

Be aware that most of these websites are made with Flash. But then again, in Japan like in many other Asian countries, the good-looking and edgy Flash is still king of the hill over here.
In any case, the design, as you will see, is undeniably impressive, creative and simply beautiful.

So here are the websites:

Seraku Corporation Ltd.
Probably one of the most beautifully designed in this list and that is why I have it as a first example. Seraku is an IT solutions provider, hence the fact that the sky was the limit when they thought about this one. There is some English in there as well and the website is very intuitive to use so anyone can bask in its glory.

Kitayama & Company
A consulting, planning and development company.

The Masaki Art Museum
A museum in Tadaoka, Osaka in which are exhibited important Japanese cultural assets such as tea ceremony-related objects, calligraphy scrolls and ink paintings.

The Tokyo Shitamachi Bus
Now this is one clearly I shouldn’t even be posting in here since it is not Kyoto but pure blatant Tokugawa yuppiedom (i.e. Tokyo) but I just cannot deny that I like the good use of the traditional Japanese colors and textures for the website of the Tokyo Shitamachi Bus.

A Japanese onsen (spa) in Ishikawa Prefecture which has one of the most beautifully designed websites all over Japan.
To see what I mean click on the navigation links in the lower left of the website.
(From left to right: Top page / History / Guest rooms / Cuisine / Facilities || Reservations / Pricing / Access / Inquiries  || Blog / Photo gallery)

A store in Okayama Prefecture which sells traditional Japanese goods such as clothing and retro modern items.

Rediscovering Japan Map
By The Japan Science and Technology Agency (JST). Another clever use of Flash to explain all the geographical and weather characteristics of the Japanese archipelago.

A maker of traditional Japanese sweets based in Osaka.

Kurokawa Onsen -Nonohana Inn
This one is similar to Tadaya mentioned above not only because it is another Japanese spa but also for its website navigation. Although this one is worth mentioning for the beautiful photos that are featured.

SONY meets Kabuki
I think the title says it all in here.

And I think that is all for the moment.

If you would like to see more just let me know and I will post another article with more great examples like these. I think know plenty of these ones to show.

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25 Responsesto “Traditional Japanese style in Web Design”

  1. malexsey says:

    it was very interesting to read
    I want to quote your post in my blog. It can?
    And you et an account on Twitter?

  2. tamariko79 says:

    I would like to exchange links with your site
    Is this possible?

  3. Michelle Rahman says:

    Hi….nice to meet you. This site is very interesting, especially for me, because I have never visited Japan, although I would like to…;-) I am self-teaching Photoshop, and I am interested in getting myself done a simple website, with some simple Flash design. I like the SERAKU style A LOT, but I am looking for a young designer that hasn’t got a big name yet, otherwise it might cost me a fortune. I would like to find a Japanese designer if possible, because I have fallen in love with Japanese traditional style.
    If you have any ideas, or if you can recommend someone to me, thanks. Michelle (from Italy)

    • Hi Michelle!

      Tough question. Most of these websites were made and designed by Japanese web companies.
      Then, the Japanese (I am afraid) are not as big on freelancing as in the West.
      If your main priority is price then I’d suggest you try to go to or to outsource the design on your website. I think 99designs is actually focused on outsourcing designers while elance is more general.
      Now, the problem with hiring a Japanese designer (in Japan) might be the “English problem”. There might actually be a lot of willing designers to work on your website in Italy since it also adds to their CV. I will let you know if I can think of someone.

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