【Introduction to Traditional Crafts】 ~Iwayado chest of drawers (Iwate Prefecture)~

【Introduction to Traditional Crafts】 ~Iwayado chest of drawers (Iwate Prefecture)~


Iwayadou chest of drawers



【Production area of Iwayadou chest of drawers】

Oshu City and Morioka City, Iwate Prefecture



【What is Iwayadou chest of drawers?】

Wooden chests made in Oshu City and Morioka City in Iwate Prefecture.

There are a wide variety of types, and not only wardrobes and tea chests (which store tea utensils and tableware), but also bookshelves and desks are manufactured.

In the past, the following chests were also made.


・Staircase chest of drawers


A chest of drawers with drawers to make effective use of the space under the stairs.


・Car chest of drawers


A chest of drawers with wheels so that valuables can be taken out in an emergency such as a fire.

In the Edo period, there were many fires, so people used to push and run away.


Iwayadou chest of drawers is said to last a lifetime, and is so popular that it receives orders from overseas.

In March 1982, it was designated as a traditional craft.



【Features of Iwayadou chest of drawers】

A big feature is the decorative metal fittings.

The paintings and patterns are carved so that they stand out, creating an elegant atmosphere.

There are two types: “Hand-made carving” and “Nambu ironware metal fittings”.

One chest of drawers can have as many as 100 metal fittings.


Lacquer coating is also applied, and there are two types: “wiping lacquer coating” and “wooden wax coating”.

Both are techniques that repeat “paint and polish” many times.


It is a product that not only has a profound appearance, but also becomes more tasteful the more you use it.



【History of Iwayadou chest of drawers】

It is said that about 1,000 years ago, Kiyohira Fujiwara, the first head of the Oshu-Fujiwara clan, placed importance on it as an industry that supported the region.

At that time, he mainly produced large pieces of furniture such as ‘nagamochi’, which are rectangular boxes for storing clothes and furnishings.


From 1781 to 1789, the lord of Iwayado Castle at that time, Muramasa Iwaki, devoted himself to the manufacture and sale of wooden products.

This was because he wanted to reform the finances of the clan, which had relied solely on rice production.

As a result of research into the production techniques and painting methods of the tansu, which are still being produced today, the aforementioned Staircase chest of drawers and Car chest of drawers were developed.


In the 1820s, metal decorations were invented, and the present form was completed.


In the Meiji period, chests of drawers began to spread to ordinary households.

In addition, it has a luxurious appearance with lacquer coating and metal decoration, and it has gained popularity.


In the 1950s after World War II, there were crises such as declining demand, but the tradition is still being passed down to the next generation.



【Production process of Iwayadou chest of drawers】

All the processes below are done manually by craftsmen.


①Cut wood


Materials used include zelkova, chestnut, paulownia, and cedar.

Zelkova is often used because the wood grain is easy to show beautifully.

The Kitakami mountain range is rich in zelkova trees, so craftsmen select and use trees that are over 300 years old.


Before it can be used as a material, it is necessary to go through the following steps in order.

・ After cutting the raw wood, let it rest for several years

・ After cutting and processing to the required dimensions, stack them outdoors and let them dry naturally.


This work is carried out over several years in order to prevent deformation such as warping and twisting of the wood, as well as cracks.

Finally, to minimize waste, “cutting wood” is done.


In addition, the interior of the chest uses natural paulownia wood.

Paulownia has the effect of repelling insects and moisture, so you can safely put your clothes in it.



After the bare wood is processed, the main body is assembled by craftsmen using tools such as saws and chisels.

Finally, the surface of the product is smoothed with a planer.




Since the assembly of the main unit has been completed by the process up to this point, the drawer will be manufactured according to the following procedure.


・Processing joints that combine wood and wood

・Smooth the surface with a planer

・Assemble the outer frame of the drawer

・Attach the bottom plate

・Scrape with a planer so that the main body and the drawer fit neatly.


④Lacquer coating


This is the process of applying lacquer to the surface of the chest of drawers.

By applying lacquer, there are effects such as “beautiful and dignified by giving luster” and “increase durability”.


There are two types of lacquer coating.


wipe lacquer

A method in which transparent lacquer called unrefined lacquer is applied with a spatula made of itaya maple and then polished repeatedly to bring out the beauty of the wood grain.


wooden wax coating

Follow the steps below.


・Polish so that the wood grain appears

・Apply a mixture of lacquer and whetstone powder (undercoating)

・After drying, polish off the undercoat lacquer with a whetstone.

・ Repeat the process of “applying lacquer → polishing” multiple times (intermediate coating)

・Polishing after applying wood wax lacquer (overcoating)

・Repeat the process of “applying lacquer → polishing” several times

・Polish it for finish and give luster


⑤Production of metal fittings

There are two types of decorative metal fittings.


・Hand-made carving


A rough sketch is drawn on a painted iron plate or copper plate and pasted.

After that, a chisel is applied to the back of the board, and the design is carved by hitting it with a hammer.

The “dragon”, “arabesque pattern” and “karajishi” that are often drawn in sketches have been carefully handed down for a long time.


・Nambu ironware Metal Fittings


Nambu ironware was designated as a traditional craft in February 1975.

Nambu ironware metal fittings are manufactured using the casting technology of this Nambu ironware.

It is done in the process of putting molten iron into a mold and finishing it after it cools and hardens.


⑥Production of metal fittings (metal engraving)


After applying a chisel to the surface of the board on which the rough sketch is pasted, the design is engraved by hitting it with a hammer.


⑦Production of metal fittings (hammering)


Next, a chisel is applied to the back of the board, and it is hit with a hammer.

By doing this work, it is possible to express three-dimensional patterns.

After cutting out the metal fittings, they are finished by sanding, rust prevention, and coloring.


⑧Attachment of metal fittings

After attaching the metal fittings that the craftsmen have made so far to the body of the chest, it is complete.





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