How to Turn a Pagoda Into a Japanese Tea House

Written by philippa jones
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How to Turn a Pagoda Into a Japanese Tea House
Traditional Japanese tea houses are surrounded by gardens (Japanese tea house and gardens image by Jorge Moro from

A traditional Japanese tea house is made from natural material, with rice straw used as flooring and wood and rice paper used for walls. The paper allows soft light into the room. The tea house is set within a small garden called a roji. You can use your pagoda as a basic frame for a tea house.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Sweeping brush
  • Cleaning cloth
  • White blinds
  • Paint brush
  • Light green paint
  • Picture of Japanese characters
  • Paint brush
  • Black paint
  • Straw mats
  • Tall lamp
  • Small wooden table
  • Japanese tea set
  • Cushions
  • Five small plants

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  1. 1

    Clean the walls and floor of your pagoda.

  2. 2

    Paint the inside walls light green, a soft neutral colour often seen in Japanese tea houses.

  3. 3

    Hang the white blinds where the pagoda does not have walls; for example, the doorway, window or on the sides where there is just a wooden frame. You can open the blinds half way to let light in, or close them to create a cosy atmosphere inside.

  4. 4

    Paint Japanese characters using black paint on one wall to give an authentic atmosphere to the room. Use the picture you have of Japanese characters as a reference.

  5. 5

    Lay straw mats on the floor to mimic the rice straw found in a Japanese tea house.

  6. 6

    Place a lamp in a corner of the pagoda, next to a small wooden table. Switching the lamp on in the evening will provide soft lighting to create a relaxing atmosphere.

  7. 7

    Put a Japanese tea set on the wooden table. This will add further authenticity to the Japanese styling.

  8. 8

    Put cushions around the inside edge of the pagoda. Make sure you have enough for all your tea house guests.

  9. 9

    Put your selection of plants in and around the outside of the pagoda. Place one on the small table. Japanese tea houses are set within a garden and the plants will add some of that flavour to the pagoda.

Tips and warnings

  • Experiment with accessories. There are plenty of Japanese themed products in shops, such as fans and furniture. Use your creativity and create your own personal design.
  • At a gardening supply store, choose Japanese plants to give more authenticity to your tea house.
  • If you have enough space around your pagoda to develop the Japanese tea house theme, consider building a water feature. The natural sound will help you relax inside the tea house.
  • If you don't have a power supply to your pagoda substitute the lamp for candles to give the same cosy environment.
  • Be careful when painting the Japanese characters on the walls. Black paint is hard to cover, so pencil the character on the wall first and then paint over it.

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