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Door and Windows


A lot of houses and apartments in Japan have glass sliding doors at the back of the house somewhere that open up to a very small balcony or veranda.  This is probably not shocking information.  What's unusual is that Japanese people don't consider it to be a door at all, even though it's designed for you to walk out of it.


A glass door that opens up to a veranda, porch, or balcony is still considered a window in Japan.  In fact, any door that opens on a swing is not even native to the Japanese culture.  That's why you can call it a ドア "doa" in Japanese.  It's a loan word because it's also a loan "idea."  Japanese doors are traditionally sliding doors, and can be called "to," or "tobira," especially for what we would consider the front door.  The sliding doors within a house are traditionally called ふすま "fusuma," but "doa" or "to" can be used when talking to children.  However, even front doors are not often referred to by their actual name, and are more often referred to as just part of the entrance way, or 玄関 "genkan."


You can enjoy an interesting argument with your students or Japanese friends over whether the sliding glass door is in fact a door or a window, and explore your cultural differences.

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