Translated literally, Toko 床 means floor and Ma 間 mean space.
Originally intended as a spiritual space in a house, a Tokonoma would provide somewhere for a Buddhist scroll to be exhibited on a wall. Placed in front of it would be an incense burner, a candle holder and a flower vase on a raised wooden slab.
A Tokonoma became the focal point in the reception rooms of samurai and people of nobility; for them, it came to be a place where they could display objects that symbolized their power in society.
Around the same time that the Tokonoma was becoming more widespread in Japanese houses, tea ceremonies were rising in popularity. The Tokonoma was inevitable space for the tea ceremonies and the host would display a calligraphic scroll on the wall to represent a theme and a flower arrangement.
Sadly, the Tokonoma is disappearing from Japanese houses. I would like us to appreciate our wonderful rich culture in Japan and find a way to marry it into our modern way of living.