Noren (shop curtain)
Stenciled paste resist

Many noren have slits between panels that people can push aside and pass through. This large four-paneled noren has no slits, and from the multiple loops at top and bottom it is clear it was not meant to move. Rather, it serves as a semi-permanent wall, offering protection from sun, wind and dust, and granting clients a degree of privacy as they view the merchandise within. The shop owners also put the large surface to good use by advertising their store.

On the left is the name of the shop, Yamadaya, or Yamada’s. In the center is a very clever and graphic logo. The top half is a stylized rendering of mountains (yama) – not the character (above), but the outline of mountains; below that is the character for rice field (ta, or in this case da). To the right is the shop’s specialty: gofuku futamonorui, or dry goods.

Below is a late Edo period ukiyo-e showing courtesans visiting a shop called Shirokiya. The woman in the center pushes aside a noren with slits in it; to her right and left can be seen noren similar to the one in this post, with panels sewn together, and loops that secure them to the floor and ceiling of the wooden structure. (Double click to enlarge picture.)