Tansu is the name used for Japan’s traditional cabinetry that first emerged between 1688 and 1703. They were originally used as mobile storage units for a number of, mostly, commercial purposes.
Over time and with changes in Japan’s social structure, Tansu gradually became status symbols, indicating the wealth and occupation of its owner. As such they became a staple in well-to-do brides’ dowries.
This Tansu, called Hen-Tobira to reflect the placement of its main door, is produced by one of Japan’s leading Tansu producers: Marui Zōkei from Honshū’s northern Tōhoku region. It is handcrafted using a number of traditional techniques used in Iwate and Aomori prefecture : Nanbu Tekki (Nanbu ironworking), Nanbu Mokkō (Nanbu carpentry), and both Tsugaru-nuri and Suri-urushi (lacquering techniques). Tsugaru-nuri in particular is recognized as an Official Traditional Japanese Craft by the Minister of Economy, Trade, and Industry, and was applied to this Tansu by celebrated lacquer worker Shigemi Kurotaki.