Noren are traditional Japanese doorway hangings. Most noren are made of fabric panels, with a slit cut up the center to permit passage through the door.
Japanese businesses traditionally hang a noren in the entrance during business hours. The presence of the noren indicates the shop is open for business. The lack of a noren in the doorway means the shop is closed.
During the medieval period, many noren were made from indigo-colored cloth. White characters on the noren announced the shop’s name and, sometimes, the type of business conducted. Commercial houses often had a shop name ending in -ya (meaning “house of”), and the use of the name on the noren represented an early form of business advertising.
Modern Japanese businesses continue to use the noren, as the image above* demonstrates. The photograph shows a fabric shop in Nara, Japan, with a noren displayed at the entrance. Customers walk between the hanging panels to enter the shop.
Have you ever visited a business which displayed a noren, or seen one hanging in a doorway? Did you know the noren represented an early form of advertising, as well as a signal that the shop was open for business?