Nightingale floor

Daikaku-ji nightingale floor
The sound of a person walking on the "nightingale floor" of Daikaku-ji 大覚寺 in Kyoto.

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Nightingale floors use nails to make a chirping noise under pressure

Nightingale floors, or uguisubari (鴬張り)  listen , were floors designed to make a chirping sound when walked upon. These floors were used in the hallways of some temples and palaces, the most famous example being Nijo Castle, in Kyoto, Japan. Dry boards naturally creak under pressure, but these floors were designed so that the flooring nails rubbed against a jacket or clamp, causing chirping noises. The squeaking floors were used as a security device, assuring that none could sneak through the corridors undetected. [1]

The "nightingale" in the English name refers to the Japanese bush warbler, or uguisu. This is a type of bushtit or nightingale native to Japan.[2]


Made from dried boards. Upside-down V-shaped joints move within the boards when pressure is applied.[3]


The first character (鴬) is read as uguisu and refers to the Japanese bush-warbler. 張り is read as bari, which comes from 張る haru meaning to stretch. Together this means "the sound of a Nightingale from the stretching/swelling/straining [of the floor]".


The following locations incorporate nightingale floors:

Modern Influences and Related Topics

External links


  1. Mysterious Japan, nightingale Floor: Kyoto Japan
  2. A-Z Animals, "Uguisu" under "Animals".
  3., Nijo Castle under "Kyoto Travel: Nijo Castle".


A-Z Animals. "Uguisi" under "Animals". (2008). accessed November 3, 2012.

Bunt, Jonathan and Gillian Hall, ed. Oxford Beginner’s Japanese Dictionary. New York: Oxford University Press, 2000.

Henshall, Kenneth G. A Guide to Remembering Japanese Characters. Vermont: Tuttle Publishing Company, 1998. “Nijo Castle (Nihojo)” under “Kyoto Travel: Nijo Castle” (June 11, 2012). accessed November 3, 2012. “Japanese Kanji Dictionary” under “Japanese Learning” (March 7, 2012). accessed November 4, 2012. “Nightingale Floor, ‘Uguisu-bari’( 鴬張り )” (2012). accessed September 24, 2012.

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