Furniture for samurai,
commoners, and actors
With four distinctive seasons, Japan is blessed with a wide variety of trees and forest types. For this reason, wood has been the primary material used for architecture
and furnishings since ancient times. Woodwork can be roughly divided into seven
different types: sashimono (fine cabinetmaking, or joinery), kurimono
(hollowed-out forms), horimono
(bentwork), tagamono (cooperage—slats set around a base and held in place by a ring, such as in
a barrel), and amimono (interwoven
wood strips). Among these, sashimono is
a complex technique based on intricate joinery (tsunagi) and tenons and mortises (hozo).
The history goes back to the ancient court culture of the Heian period
(794–1185). Woodworking crafts in Edo advanced during the Edo period (1615–1868), when skilled
artisans were called to the Edo metropolis from all parts of the country.
Eventually, with increasingly stable living conditions, the demands for
furniture increased. Sashimono
carpenters of Edo made many types of home furnishings, honing their techniques
and catering to the tastes of the samurai, merchants, and kabuki actors (nashizono sashimono).