Japanese noren curtains are a feature outside many restaurants, bath houses (sento) and traditional stores. Usually rectangular in shape, noren have several slits in the fabric to allow easy passage, ventilation and allow a degree of privacy while at the same time allowing a peek inside.
Noren often advertise the wares or function of the business from which they are hung and are a sign that the place is open for trade. Noren are taken down at closing time, signifying the place is closed.
Classic noren can be seen outside Japanese bath houses often with the character for hot water 湯 or the corresponding hiragana ゆ.
Noren are also used as room dividers in individual homes. Kyoto is known for its high quality indigo-dyed curtains in traditional and modern designs.