Partly because the frequency of earthquakes precluded the use heavy construction methods, traditional Japanese buildings, and the furniture in them, are light. The Japanese sat and slept on the floor and, so, had no chairs or beds in the Western style.

They used low tables for writing and most often stored their goods on open shelves or, in the case of kimonos, towels and swords, on racks. Unlike the Chinese who always made symmetrical shelves and placed furniture in pairs, Japanese shelves are usually asymmetric and items are admired for their uniqueness.

The one common piece of Japanese furniture is the tansu – a cabinet for designed for a man’s wardrobe. It usually includes a large space for robes, four large drawers for other items of clothing, such as sashes, and small drawers for accessories like inro (pouches) and netsuke.

The same style of furniture and furnishing was used at all levels of Japanese society; the difference being in the quality of materials (timber of lacquer) used and the workmanship.

Tansu (Meiji period)
Tansu (Meiji period)

Antique Japanese furniture available now
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