Simple Shoji Screen

Simple Shoji Screen lesson plan

Japanese shoji screens are decorative as well as functional. Create a miniature shoji screen with symbols of this unique culture.

  • 1.

    In Japan, shoji screens traditionally served a variety of practical functions—as room dividers, doors and privacy screens. These portable screens were also used in other ways—as part of tea ceremonies, Buddhist rites or as a backdrop during dances. Research the origins and uses of these screens.

  • 2.

    Traditional shoji screens were often decorated with hand-painted artwork. Simple cultural and natural designs allowed the light to pass through but still provided a decorative element. Look at pictures of shoji screens. What designs do you think best capture Japanese culture and why?

  • 3.

    Use crayons to create a Japanese-inspired design on a piece of tracing paper. Tracing paper is translucent so it resembles the rice paper used in a real shoji screen. When drawing your design make sketch lines with the crayons by using gently overlapping strokes to build up dense, lively-looking shapes. Create new colors by overlaying light coats of various crayon colors.

  • 4.

    To create the frame of the shoji screen cut dark construction paper into strips. Arrange the strips into a grid-like pattern. Use a glue stick to glue the strips to the tracing paper.


  • Students learn the origin, history and uses of shoji screens.
  • Students examine and discuss the artwork used to decorate shoji screens.
  • Students create a miniature shoji screen using a variety of creative coloring techniques.


  • Folding screens actually originated in China. However, it was in Japan that the screens evolved into a range of variations. Learn more about the byobu, tsuitate and fusuma types of shoji screens.
  • Gather information on the architecture of shoji screens. How are they constructed? How do the materials used in the screens lead to their versatility? If different materials were used, how would this limit the screen’s functionality?
  • Paper is featured in another Japanese art form— origami. Learn how to make a basic origami creation like a drinking cup or crane.