Japantown San Jose bathroom collageA couple of years ago I had the pleasure of working with some past clients in purchasing a home in downtown San Jose’s Japantown neighborhood.  Their street is full of bungalows and  gracious 1920s or 1930s Spanish Revival style homes. With a wide road and an enormous “sidewalk strip” and beautiful trees, just a look down the street is like a look back in time.

The home that my friends bought had a lot of wonderful  exterior touches and a few interior ones that are reminiscent of the era.  (This is fun real estate to see and sell!)  A walk into the bathroom, though, really just takes your breath away if you love older, historic homes.  In this post I’ll share a few large photos of this very cool, classic tiled bathroom and indicate why a bathroom like this is so special.  Please continue on to see several photos!

First, here’s a look at the room as a whole – at least most of it is visible here:

Downtown San Jose Japantown classic tile bathroom

This room is 99% as it was initially built. The toilet is off to the right, by the window, in its own small cove.  Please note the abundant use of tile in this room!  The floor is intricately tiled, the walls are also extensively tiled, and there’s a strong use of tile to define the elements of the room (shower, tub, etc.)   One change, though: originally, there would have been a wall sink rather than the pedestal sink here – thus the row of black tiles as a backsplash by the current sink.

Now let’s have a closer view of the different parts of this beautiful bathroom.  First, a look at the tile trim.  The almost Moorish design is very typical of Spanish Revival homes, and the builder found a way to weave it into the bathroom plan without it becoming overwhelming. Luckily, after almost a century, it is still in near perfect condition.

Tilework detail in Japantown, San Jose, Spanish style home

Now the floor.  No easy, large tiles here!  Instead, it’s as if the tile were woven into the floor. This was very labor intensive and is as much an art as the work of a trade.

Downtown San Jose Japantown bathroom floor detail

And now the arch by the bathtub. In today’s homes, there would be no arch or sense of enclosure.  Here, though, the builder didn’t just create an arch, but made it a scalloped arch – again a hint of the Moorish style love of shapes is here in this bathroom.

Bathtub detail in San Jose Japantown home

Finally, the shower enclosure.  Again, this was not designed for mere functionality and was not built expediently. Rather, this shower stall was crafted with extra effort to create a fully tiled  arch here as well.  The detail is well beyond what was necessary to make a shower, and to have tiled an arch could not have been the work of a tile apprentice.

Japantown home's tiled Stall Shower (San Jose, CA)

In the shower you notice one other modification for usability: a grab bar. Other than that, though, it is very much as it was originally constructed.

This magnificent bathroom was built for both style, functionality and form.  It is a tribute to the builder and to the tradespeople who created it that nearly a century later, it is still prized.   With so much effort, and countless years of service, it continues to work well and is perhaps appreciated today even more than when it was first built.


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Mary Pope-Handy
Sereno Group Real Estate
214 Los Gatos-Saratoga Rd
Los Gatos, CA 95030
408 204-7673
Mary (at) PopeHandy.com
License# 01153805

Selling homes in
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Santa Cruz County.
Special focus on:
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Mary Pope-Handy's Live in Los Gatos blog won the 2007 Project Blogger contest, sponsored by Inman News and Active Rain

2007: Mary Pope-Handy and Frances Flynn Thorsen win the Project Blogger Contest for Mary's Live in Los Gatos blog. The contest was sponsored by
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Best real estate agent in Silicon Valley from the San Jose Mercury News poll of readers in 2011
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