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Tansu Japanese Furniture

japanese tansuThe Tansu - The Japanese word for a joined wooden trunk. Originally, made for the court of the Emperor and the Feudal lords, During the Edo period this furniture style became widespread, and then common during the Meiji and Taisho periods. Now Tansu is has become very popular for today's home, because of the simple, natural elements that this Japanese furniture style exhibits.

Tansu were designed to easily transport possessions into storage, in a barn or attic, for seasonal access of kimonos. Softwoods were often used in the construction to keep the tansu light weight. Tansu mobility allowed the owners to relocate their possessions in an expedient manner if needed. Fire was a constant threat to the people of Japan who lived very close together in homes made of paper and wood, with fire as light and warmth. To add to the fire (please excuse the pun) fires frequently occurred due to the large number of earthquakes on the Pacific Rim, which could quickly wipe out an entire town. Japanese furniture merchants also used tansu for their many ledgers and books. The many compartments that the tansu design creates, and that they could be moved quickly and easily made this design an ideal choice.

The basic hand tools used by tansu woodworkers today are the same as those used for hundreds of years. These tools are well designed and beautifully constructed. Both the saw and hand plane cut on the pull stroke, which gives the woodworker greater control. Creation of these tools is considered an art in itself. The woodworkers got the benefit of a law which halted the creation of the Samurai swords, shifting the metal smiths work from the katana to the tansu hardware and tools. The finest woodworking tools from Japan are made of high-carbon steel. Japanese furniture woodworkers have a strong connection to the hand tools they use on a daily basis for decades.

There are a variety of more common tansu styles. The kaidan tansu, recognizable from its stair step design. The karuma tansu, or wheeled tansu. The sea tansu - originating because most of Japan's trade was done by sea.

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