Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Great pair of Bearded axes.

I found these great axes on my buying trip last month. Such beautiful and graceful forms.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Kura - Fireproof storehouses.

All that remains are the Kura (oldphotosjapan.com)
This is an image of an area of Osaka devastated by fire in 1909. What first stood out to me was the number of Kura (fire proof store houses) that withstood the fire. At this time wealth was measured in material goods. Any material goods that one wanted to keep safe were kept in Kura because historically there was no fire insurance. Fire has a huge influence on Japanese minimalist style and the importance of good storage containers like tansu. 

minimal interior 
When a fire was near you could close the heavy plaster doors of the kura and flee.  After the fire had passed your home would be gone but your material wealth would remain.

Plaster Kura doors with wood winter door inside. 
City view, Meiji era - notice all the kura storehouses in white.

Because of the nature of Japanese weather the houses needed to vent well to stay cool  and free of mold in the hot humid summer.   Fireproof stone and brick homes were a danger in earthquake prone Japan.  You could run from a fire but not from an earthquake so a flammable well vented building style was chosen.  Because of this anything left in the rooms were also likely to be lost in a fire.  Fire proof buildings were created with thick plaster walls and small windows that could be closed in an emergency.  But the fire proof buildings would not do their job if they were well vented, which created a problem with moisture.  Inside the kura was much cooler than outside which created condensation.  This condensation could rust swords, rot books and paintings and destroy clothes.  The solution was to create storage containers that protected your goods from moisture.  Tansu are the solution.  The exterior could be lacquered to repel water on the exterior and the interior woods like Kiri absorbed ambient moisture within the drawer pulling it away from the contents.
Kura with small window and wood siding. 

Kura with small windows with metal shutters.
The wood flashing is to protect against  the weather. 

Interior of kura with storage boxes for housewares
Interior of a kura 
Plaster kura windows with metal mechanisms to close them from inside. 
More photos and information about the Osaka fire can be seen at Old photos of Japan  http://oldphotosjapan.com/en/photos/246/great-kita-fire

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Interiors with tansu 1

Many people think Tansu and other Japanese antiques are won't work with the current design of their homes.  In this post I would like to share image of Tansu in several different contemporary homes.   If you have an image you would like to share let me know.   
Kaidan dansu From the book "Japanese Cabinetry" - Insight Design

Split clothing chests From the book "Japanese Cabinetry" - Insight Design

Mizuya dansu in a living room From the book "Japanese Cabinetry" - Insight Design

Kitchen chest in a bedroom From the book "Japanese Cabinetry" - Insight Design
Mizuya Kitchen chest from Matsumoto and desk from Takayama in an adobe house in Santa Fe 
Merchants ledger chest From the book "Japanese Cabinetry" - Insight Design

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Tour of the Shibui Warehouse

These photos were taken by a customer last week here at the warehouse.  They are a nice overview of the collection. Thank you Yuka. Shibui warehouse photo tour

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Tansu in the Movies

A Cho bako sea chest from Shibui may possibly have a supporting role in the new Warner Bros. film “Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close” starring Tom Hanks and Sandra Bullock.

Tansu have played roles in several movies and TV shows throughout the years. A few of my favorites have been the Kannon Biraki in the Hitchcock film “Rear Window” with Jimmy Stewart, and the Osaka clothing chest in “Fearless” with Jeff Bridges and Isabella Rossilini.

If you know of other Tansu in the movies we would love to hear about them.