Dear visitor, if you know the answer to this question, please post it. Thank you!

Note that this thread has not been updated in a long time, and its content might not be up-to-date anymore.

Why is the color blue so popular? 2010/7/28 03:54
Hi,
On several of my trips to Japan i noticed that the Japanese seems to have a liking for the color blue. In the country side you see often the use of blue covers (temporary sheds etc). Also the roofs of houses are quite often blue (see for instance here: http://www.freeimagehosting.net/image.php?dd50a8f72f.jpg ). Is there any reason for the use of this not-so-natural color?
B. Slager
by B. Slager (guest)  

... 2010/7/28 12:11
It looks like that roofs in the picture are not Kawara-yane (tiled roof) but Totan-yane (corrugated-iron roof). Totan-yane is used mainly because maintenance is easy and cost is low. I think that the most commonly-used color for Kawara-yane is black or gray, though there's differences from one area to another.

Meanwhile, "blue" reminds me of the sky and the sea. That may be one of the reasons why we like the color. The color of official uniform of Japan's football team is also blue...
by Jlady (guest) rate this post as useful

... 2010/7/28 12:53
Blue covers made of plastic are called "blue sheet".
It's the cheapest product in Japan. So, many people use it.
Homeless people use it as their shelter in urban area.

Yes, it's the shame of Japan that so many people use it without concern for beauty.
by blue sheet (guest) rate this post as useful

. 2010/7/28 13:32
Where was the picture taken? I can not make out clearly but it could be in the northern Honshu or Hokkaido. The roofs are sloped, no flat roofs, and there do not seem to have the rain gutters. These are signs of heavy snow country regions where they often use metal roofing for easy snow clearing and no gutter to prevent from ice dam forming and damages from heavy snow/ice weight. I've seen many different colors, red, brown, green, blue, etc. Perhaps, this village had a local distributer who only had the blue metal roofing color or could not get different colors in time for the winter. Or one respected in the village used the blue color and everybody else followed. Yamaguchi area, southern Honshu, is well known for glazed reddish(more like persimmon or burgundy colors) tile roofing. These and black tiles(may look grayish in the sun as they have silver color particles on the surface) are still most common to withstand the typhoon wind forces. Asphalt shingles are not commonly sued as they can be blown away.
by amazinga (guest) rate this post as useful

... 2010/7/28 14:03
As some of the above posters has said, the infamous blue sheet is cheap and used for many different things. For some reason, blue is the colour they come in. This could be an environmental thing (in my hometown, particular colours of lids/ring around the lid for containers are not used as birds are attracted to them and get them stuck around their beaks or swallow them).

Also, I remember reading an article about this along with the colours of roofs of other countries. From what I can remember, particular countries had particular colours. Sorry but can't remember any more than that.
by Smoke (guest) rate this post as useful

. 2010/7/28 16:53
It's not that the color blue is "popular" but it's just that it's mostly what you get here when it comes to plastic sheets and reasonable roofs.

If you ask me, modern Japanese in general don't really care about what color goes with what. They used to traditionally, but somewhere in the 20th century, color became a very secondary issue for the general society in Japan. It's only in the recent couple of decades or so that modern people here began to be aware of exterior design. Hense, in many moutain resort areas, all public signs and ads nowadays are organized into one color such as brown, the harmless color of tree barks.

It costs a lot to manufacture color variation. When the economy crisis hits hard, about the first thing you lose is color variation. So at the moment, you see only ugly-colored cars available. Same goes with refridgerators.

On the other hand, as I've mentioned, not many modern Japanese prefer to venture and use unique colors on their bulk material such as roofs. And since manufactures don't want to end up with leftovers of colors that noone wants, they make two or three "safe and acceptable" colors and try to sell just that.

Blue, however, is in fact quite a difficult color, because you can get beautiful blue and really ugly blue depending on the blend. Still, I suppose a lot of Japanese people seem to think that for example, red can be too harsh on the eyes, pink is too sexy, but who could get tired of the color of the sky or maybe the color of leaves - sort of thing. The J-League Soccer uniform was decided to be blue, because blue is the color of the sky and the sky is supposed to give people hope.

So yes, you do see a lot of blue sheats and blue roofs, but I'm sure the people who chose to buy them didn't actually think, "Oh, this is my favorite color!" but they probably just thought, "Well, if that's the only thing that's available or if that's the cheapest you have, we can deal with that."
by Uco, with a ugly blue new car (guest) rate this post as useful

thanks 2010/7/28 19:04
Hi all,
Thanks for all the responses. I guess there is no cultural reason for this colour. Just practical/economical.
The picture was taken during landing on Narita about 5-10 minutes before touch down. So about 20 km out (to the west if i remember correct).
BTW In Europa a lot of roofs are red or reddish. The reason is i think- that the tiles are made from clay which turns red during the baking process.
B. Slager
by B. Slager (guest) rate this post as useful

colour of the roofs 2010/7/29 02:08
''in Europe a lot of roofs are reddish..''
It all depends on the area, local climate etc.. In the old days people used easily available local materials when building a home, both for walls and roofs, and the roofs had a low or high slope depending on the climate.

In France, for example, Roman style tiles are used mostly in the Southern half of France, on roofs with a low slope. These tiles are long and narrow, have a curved shape, and are pinkish red but not all over, the colour changes here and there within each tile.
In other regions, like Dordogne--still culturally part of the South i.e. French wasn't widely spoken there until the late 19h century-- the tiles are small, flat, rectangular and dark reddish brown. Roofs have a steep slope. Similar tiles are used in Normandy too though some Normand houses have thatched roofs.

Brittany but also Auvergne and Northern France use lots of blue slate, on high sloped roofs. Of course many castles, regarding of the region, use slate.

In mountainous regions many old houses use heavy flat stones...other mountain houses use wood tiles (just like the cedar shakes used in North America)
There are region that used to use multicoloured tiles (in Burgundy for example). They are still found on historical buildings there.

By law houses in each region of France must respect the local architectural style (shape of the house, roof slope, building materials, colour of the walls, shutters etc.) especially in historical towns and villages...but modern boxy shaped buildings are allowed too, depending on the location.

Other European countries are similar...indeed buildings in some parts of France look like buildings across the border and not like buildings in a nearby region of France (European borders have changed a lot through the centuries..).
by Red frog (guest) rate this post as useful

reply to this thread