Edo woodworks & joinery

Edo woodworks & joinery Edo sashimono

Hidden joinery showing chic Edo
Elegant craftsmanship and beautiful lacquered wood


What is Edo woodworks & joinery ?

Edo Sashimono is wood furniture made in the Taito, Arakawa, Adachi, Katsushika, and Koto Wards in Tokyo. Sashimono refers to furniture and small items made using mainly hand-cut dovetail joints and with no nails; the word sashimono is derived from the traditional practice of measuring with a monosashi woodwork ruler.
Edo Sashimono are characterized by their restrained ornamentation, and their simple lacquering techniques that bring out the natural beauty of the mulberry, zelkova, or paulownia wood grain; even today when we look at an Edo Sashimono work, we can feel the chic style of Edo and by gone days. Kyo Sashimono (Kyoto-style wood furniture) were particularly known for storing tea utensils and used by the Imperial Court and aristocracy, whereas Edo Sashimono were used by samurai families and townspeople including merchants, and Kabuki actors. To show the quality of craftsmanship and wood, and also to underline that these pieces are not heavy and rustic, but rather chic and smart, sometimes light thin boards may be purposefully used.
The joints of Edo Sashimono are made in such a way that they are barely seen from the outside. Despite their delicate appearance, Edo Sashimono are quite sturdy and can be used for many generations.


The origins of sashimono were the Kyo Sashimono produced as part of the court culture of the Heian period (794-1192). In the Muromachi period (1336-1573), carpentry skills evolved, giving rise to sashimono-shi (professional cabinet-makers) who made such furniture items as chests of drawers and display cabinets, and square- or round-shaped boxes for storing tea ceremony items used for the Imperial Court and nobles. Kyo Sashimono developed along with the tea ceremony culture known as chanoyu. Sashimono also include Osaka Karaki Sashimono derived from the Chinese joinery techniques studied by Japanese missions visiting the Tang court.
Edo Sashimono began in the Edo period (1603-1868), when the Tokugawa Shogunate relocated artisans from across the whole country to establish artisan towns specializing in a particular craft such as blacksmith, dyeing, and carpentry in the Nihonbashi and Kanda areas. In the middle of the Edo period, as handcraft manufacturing developed and demand increased, the carpentry work was subdivided, and consequently, sashimono-shi was established as a separate profession along with kuden-shi (temple and shrine carpenters) and toshoji-shi (artisans of doors and shoji screens)
Edo Sashimono continued to develop and was designated as a traditional woodwork craft by the Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry in 1997.

General Production Process

Where to Buy & More Information

Taito Municipal Edo Shitamachi Dento Kogeikan

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