Thanks. The space you mention is called a "tokonoma".
It comes from the "shoin" room design that was adopted in Japanese architecture in about the 15th century. The concept originally came from Zen temple's dens/studys and it eventually found its way into the "standard" traditional room architecture. By the later Tokagawa Jidai ....it had become the "standard" for a samurai class room..... along with the sliding fusuma, sliding shoji, a set of asymetrical shelves on a wall, and a low desk....called a "shoin" (hence the style name). There were three varaitions on this... one for daimyo, one for the average samurai, and then one that was adaptred for "sukiya" ... tea ceremony huts.
Interestingly.... the 15th century style persists to this day in Japanese architecture.
And nope... not very Chinese.