【Introduction to Traditional Crafts】 ~Kyo-Sashimono (Kyoto Prefecture)~

【Introduction to Traditional Crafts】 ~Kyo-Sashimono (Kyoto Prefecture)~





【Production area of Kyo-Sashimono】




【What is Kyo-Sashimono?】

Woodwork made in Kyoto Prefecture.

It is made using a technique called “kumite” that combines wood and wood without using nails.

There are “Furniture Sashimono” which is representative of paulownia products such as chests and desks, “Tea Ceremony Sashimono” such as boxes and shelves used for tea ceremony, and “Hikimono” which makes use of wood materials.


“Sashimono” refers to furniture and furnishings made using kumite.

It is said that more than 500 types of products can be created by skillfully handling various techniques.


In June 1976, it was designated as a traditional craft.



【Features of Kyo-Sashimono】

It features an elegant design typical of Kyoto.

It is said that the Heian period, when the capital was in Kyoto (Heian-kyo), is the origin of Kyo-Sashimono.

As an elegant culture centered on the emperor and aristocrats flourished, elegance was required.

The elegance of that time still remains today, and the fusion of the tea ceremony culture and the culture of the townspeople has created an even more diverse array of expressions.


It can be said that one of the characteristics is the technology that has been handed down for nearly 1200 years.

In addition to traditional techniques, craftsmen have developed and developed techniques that suit each era.



【History of Kyo-Sashimono】

Kyo-Sashimono is said to have originated in the Heian period.

Japan is blessed with forests and abundant wood, and crafts using wood as a material have been developed since ancient times.

With the addition of the stone and metal culture that came from mainland China, unique Japanese woodwork was born, imitating the tools used for production.


During the Heian period, they were mainly used for ceremonies held at the imperial court, such as rulers.

It was made by people who made a living as carpenters.

However, in the Muromachi period, a specialist called “Sashimono-shi” appeared.

With the rise of the samurai, the demand for furnishings such as chests of drawers and shelves increased.


In the Azuchi-Momoyama period, with the spread of the tea ceremony, it came to be used not only for tea utensils but also for tatami rooms with alcoves, so the demand for Kyo-Sashimono increased rapidly.


In the Edo period, a wide variety of works were made, not only for samurai families, but also for merchants and Kabuki actors.

By combining various techniques and cultures, Kyo Sashimono will evolve further.


Currently, craftsmen are actively working on new product development such as spice racks and lighting.

Although it is modern, you can still feel the warmth of the wood, which is why it continues to be loved by many people.



【Production process of Kyo-Sashimono】

The wood used for Kyo-Sashimono includes zelkova, cypress, cedar, cherry, and pine.

In this article, we will introduce the production process of paulownia chests, which are a representative of Kyoto Sashimono and are famous as luxury items.



referring source:Miyazaki Lumber Industry


Paulownia wood is preferred for the following reasons.

・Excellent heat insulation

・Excellent moisture resistance

・There is an insect repellent effect

・Even if you compare each part, there is no difference in material (uniform)

・Difficult to get dirty


The first step is to make the base material.

Once the bark has been removed, the raw wood is piled up and left in the open for over a year.

The purpose of stripping the bark is to prevent the tree from growing.


Next, the raw wood is cut into pieces that match the size of the product and is dried for over a year.

After drying, it is cut into boards or squares according to size and dried again.

After “sumitsuke” is done according to the dimensions of the product, the last step is to cut the wood.



Mark the position on the wood material.

By marking, information is shared and mistakes are not made during processing.

(Conversely, if the craftsman makes a mistake with sumitsuke, the wrong product will be produced after processing, so it is very important.)



This process is performed when the board is twisted or warped.

Sprinkle water on the inside of the warped board, heat the other side, put a weight on it, and leave it for a whole day.

The amount of water and heat are important, so it is a process that requires a high level of skill by skilled craftsmen.


③Rough cutting

referring source:Miyazaki Lumber Industry


The wood that has been straightened is cut to size.


④Determination of dimensions

referring source:Miyazaki Lumber Industry


Sumitsuke is performed using “Kanezashi” etc.

Instead of using ink or other writing instruments, a line-drawing tool called a “shiragaki” is used to draw lines accurately.


⑤Kumite processing

referring source:Miyazaki Lumber Industry


It is a process that uses a technique called “kumitsugi” to combine boards together.

There are two-piece joint (techniques in which the upper and lower ends of the board are evenly notched and hammered), triple joints, stone pavement joints, etc., which not only increase the strength but also make it look beautiful.


⑥Making wooden nails

The procedure for making wooden nails using “deutzia” is as follows.


・Cut the deutzia into 20cm lengths

・Using a hatchet, split the deutzia into 4-6 mm thick pieces.

・The plate-shaped deutzia is further split along the wood grain to form a stick like a chopstick.

・Scrape with a small knife to make it round

・Cut to required length

・Once the water is removed by roasting it together with rice bran, the wooden nail is complete.



Apply glue to the areas where step ⑤ is completed and join them together, then open a hole with a drill.

After applying adhesive to the tip of the wooden nail, use a hammer to drive it into the drilled hole and assemble it.

Once the drawers are assembled, fine-tune them by shaving them with a planer so that they fit tightly into the chest of drawers.

The adhesive used is made by kneading rice well.


⑧Shaving for finishing

In this process, the jointed parts are scraped with a flat planer so that the plane becomes smooth.

In addition, the round surface etc. will be scraped to give it roundness.


⑨Finish processing

referring source:Miyazaki Lumber Industry


Polish the surface with a natural abrasive such as horsetail.

After polishing, the craftsman performs “Ibotaro wiping finish” to bring out the original goodness of paulownia.

This is a technique that puts the liquid secreted by the “Ibotaromushi” in a cotton bag and polishes the surface.



Decoration is a process that is performed when necessary.

Typical examples are as follows.



After drawing a pattern with lacquer, before the lacquer dries, metal powder is sprinkled to finish the pattern.



A technique of engraving a pattern and then inlaying it with gold, etc.


Once the decoration is complete, attach the handles and other items to complete the process.




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