There is a wooden shelf at the Shoso-in treasure house of Tōdai-ji Temple called “tanazushi,” which was crafted 1300 years ago. Made from cedar and used to store instruments and other fixtures, the shelf is composed entirely of support pillars and shelving boards, giving it a practical, simple design. It is the oldest extant piece of Japanese furniture.
We recreated this tanazushi to the size and specifications of when it was originally built. It features an extremely simple assembly design, and many parts have been crafted using a plane and chisel.
While there were challenging aspects to achieve in today’s modern production system, recreating the furniture of years past put us in touch with the carpenters’ thoughts, which has helped us see ancient Japanese woodworking techniques and aesthetics in a new light.