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Veranda-like engawa with people for scale. Note the slope of the ground under the engawa, and the traditional stone step.

In Japanese architecture, an engawa (縁側 or 掾側) or en () is an edging strip of non-tatami-matted flooring, usually wood or bamboo. The ens may run around the rooms, on the outside of the building, in which case they resembles a porch or sunroom.

Usually, the en is outside the translucent paper shōji, but inside the amado (雨戸) storm shutters (when they are not packed away).[1][2] However, some en run outside the amados. Ens that cannot be enclosed by amados, or sufficiently sheltered by eaves, must be finished to withstand the Japanese climate.[3] Modern architecture often encloses an en with sheet glass. An engawa allows the building to remain open in the rain or sun, without getting too wet or hot, and allows flexible ventilation and sightlines.[4]

The area under an engawa is sloped away from the building, and often paved, to carry the water away. The area directly outside the paving is usually a collector drain that takes water still further away.[3] The engawa is thus a way to bridge the obstacles good drainage puts between the indoors and the outdoors.


A temple in Kyoto with, from top to bottom, hiro-en, ochi-en, and nure'en.[5] Note that part of the hiro-en is enclosed. Drainage provision is obvious.

En means an edge; gawa a side.[6] The terms en and engawa were historically used interchangeably,[7][8] but engawa now generally refers to the veranda directly outside the shutters.[citation needed] Types of en include:

Positional terms[edit]

  • hiro-en (広縁), an inner en, possibly enclosed
  • ochi-en (落縁), an en set one step below the floor (or en) inside it
  • nure'en (濡れ縁), literally a "wet en", an en protruding from under the eaves and not protected by amado.

If there are fewer than three ens, an en may be described by more than one of the positional terms.[9]

Structural terms[edit]

  • mawari-en (回縁), a wrap-around en, often a wrap-around veranda
  • kirime-en (切目縁), a en with boards running across its width
  • kure-en (榑縁), a en with boards running along its length
  • sunoko-en (簀子縁), a veranda with a slatted floor for better drainage
  • takesunoko-en (竹簀の子縁), a bamboo sunoko-en

Relation to other house components[edit]

Moya and hisashi; the ens run around the rooms and between the pillars. The hisashi may itself be an en in small buildings.[10]
Ens looking onto a courtyard.

The core of a traditional building is the innermost room or moya (母屋) (see diagram). This is surrounded by the hisashi (廂,庇), which is on the same level, and is usually inside the windows and amado (雨戸) storm shutters. The hisashi is often a ring of tatami-floored rooms, but may be an unmatted en; see also hirobisashi (広廂,広庇, 弘廂). In a large building, there may be further layers of tatami-floored rooms,[11] courtyards, and further floorplan complications.

Cultural role[edit]

Engawas are often proportioned so that one can sit on the edge and observe the garden.[12] They provide a space for playing children and casual visitors.[4]

An engawa is part of the house, and shoes are therefore not worn on it.[13] Guests' shoes are lined up pointing outwards.

While engawas declined with the Westernization of Japanese architecture,[4] they are making a comeback in modern architecture.[4][14]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ [En]. The Daijisen. Shougakukan. 1995.
  2. ^ http://www.rothteien.com/superbait/shojiscreens.htm
  3. ^ a b A., Kester, Jeffery (18 March 2017). "The Kester House & Garden". kesterhouse.com.
  4. ^ a b c d "1890s • Woman in Room".
  5. ^ System, Japanese Architecture and Art Net Users. "JAANUS / ochi-en 落縁". www.aisf.or.jp.
  6. ^ "the definition of engawa". www.dictionary.com.
  7. ^ "Engawa". Retrieved 2008-07-20.
  8. ^ System, Japanese Architecture and Art Net Users. "JAANUS / en 縁". www.aisf.or.jp.
  9. ^ http://www.aisf.or.jp/~jaanus/deta/n/nureen.htm, http://www.aisf.or.jp/~jaanus/deta/o/ochien.htm
  10. ^ System, Japanese Architecture and Art Net Users. "JAANUS / hisashi 廂". www.aisf.or.jp.
  11. ^ System, Japanese Architecture and Art Net Users. "JAANUS / shinden-zukuri 寝殿造". www.aisf.or.jp.
  12. ^ "ELEMENTS - The Engawa". 15 January 2015.
  13. ^ Nekohakase. "Engawa". Japan: History and Tradition.
  14. ^ "Design Workshop: How the Japanese Porch Makes a Home Feel Larger".