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Magnificent and eye-catching ”Sendai Tansu Blacksmith Eikichi Yaegashi”

Magnificent and eye-catching
”Sendai Tansu Blacksmith Eikichi Yaegashi”

DATA
Yaegashi Sendai Tansu Metal Fitting Workshop
164 Shimo Iida aza Yashiki Kita, Wakabayashi-ku, Sendai-shi, Miyagi

A job to make metal fittings for Sendai tansu

In our journey, we have already visited the Sendai tansu shop, so please look at the article about Sendai tansu, on its description and history. Traditional Sendai tansu has a set size of 120 centimeters in width and 90 centimeters in height.
That size in not huge, and not so small. You can reach both corners if you stretch your hands, and the height is just about your waist. It is a chest of drawers of useful size, an everyday item.

However, what is so magnificent about Sendai tansu is its gorgeous decorations. Normal tansu have metal handles and metal fittings to fortify the corners. Sendai tansu which were used by samurai, on the other hand, have gorgeous hand embossed metal fittings. They are very eye-catching.
We were able to interview Eikichi Yaegashi of Yaegashi Sendai Tansu Metal Fitting Workshop, who makes these metal fittings.

1300 variations of chisels alone

Yaegashi Sendai Tansu Metal Workshop is an establishment with a history. Yaegashi is the fourth generation, and from his grandfather’s time, the Yaegashi family was devoted to making metal fitting. Sendai tansu are made by division labor, and the joiner, the lacquerer and the blacksmith work separately. So, as a blacksmith, Yaegashi makes metal fittings only.
There are motifs such as dragons, lions and peony, engraved on metal plates. Iron is mostly used but he also uses copper, silver and brass. The metal plates are bulged by beating from the back, then the motifs are engraved on the front side. The sound of the chisels rings rhythmically. While chiseling, he changes chisels many times.
”I didn’t know that there were so many kinds of chisels.”
”There are about 1300 variety. If I include the ones for making wholes, then more.” In order to engrave a more detailed and dynamic motifs, the skills must be supported by good tools. What’s more the tools are handmade. ”A craftsman must have skills, of course, but what he needs more is good tools.” said Yaegashi.

Making original designs.

There are traditional motifs of the metal fittings of Sendai tansu, such as dragons and lions. Yaegashi often make metal fittings of these traditional designs, but sometimes he draws up his original designs.
”I enjoy it most when I can decide the designs myself.” said Yaegashi. Sometimes customers come to him with a request as to the motif. ”I never refuse any motifs. I am a craftsman, it will be humiliating to say I can’t do it. When I get an order, I really enjoy designing the whole tansu.”
He pursues the traditional motifs thoroughly, and at the same time makes original designs of his own. The requests of customers have changed over the years, due to the change of ways of living., he says. He showed us a set of metal fittings used for Sendai tansu. Each piece was shining brightly, true masterpieces with elegant decorations.

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