from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A niche or an alcove in a Japanese home for displaying a flower arrangement, kakemono, or other piece of art.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A recess in a domestic interior in which a hanging scroll and a flower arrangement is displayed


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

Japanese : toko, alcove + no, of + ma, room.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

This definition is lacking an etymology or has an incomplete etymology. You can help Wiktionary by giving it a proper etymology. Japanese


  • Formal Japanese reception rooms feature an alcove called a tokonoma, which is used to display treasured curios.

    Geisha, A Life

  • The tokonoma is a very quaint feature of a Japanese house.

    Peeps at Many Lands: Japan

  • In the Japanese New Year celebrations, the display of a growing miniature plum or apricot tree known as tokonoma hardly ever misses.


  • The third wall, a solid one of smoke-blue plaster, held the niche called "tokonoma," where pictures are hung and flower vases set.

    The Dragon Painter

  • At one end are two alcoves with floors of polished wood, called tokonoma.

    Unbeaten Tracks in Japan

  • How valuable is the scroll hanging in the tokonoma?

    Geisha, A Life

  • Each room must have a tatami floor and a tokonoma alcove replete with the appropriate monthly hanging scroll and a suitable arrangement of flowers in a suitable vase.

    Geisha, A Life

  • When we entered the room, the dresser Suehiroya asked Mother Sakaguchi to take the place of honor in front of the tokonoma.

    Geisha, A Life

  • I still remember the scroll that was hanging in the tokonoma that day.

    Geisha, A Life

  • In his mind, this twilit winter's afternoon, Shizuka and Koei were inextricably entwined, and the deeper he descended into the Shinto valley, the more his personal memories were caught up in the tendrils of history that endured here, overcoming the advent of plastic geta and television tokonoma.

    Floating City


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  • "Entering, you first noticed the traditional tokonoma to the immediate right, while a closet took up the rest of that side of the wall."

    The Guest Cat by Takashi Hiraide, translated by Eric Selland, p 21 of the New Directions paperback edition

    October 24, 2014