”Iwatanido Chest, Koichi Oikawa” Making chests that value the life of the tree

”Iwatanido Chest, Koichi Oikawa”
Making chests that value the life of the tree

Things that comes to mind when you face a chest

In Iwate, there is a craft called ”Iwatanido Chest”. Originally it was made in the 1100’s during the time when Kiyohira Fujiwara poured a lot of energy into industry and religion. Many years later in the late 1700’s, the lord of Iwatanido castle, Muramasa Iwashiro had one made with wheels. In 1800s the trend was to incorporate decorations using ”Chokin (Metal carving)”. And thus formed the current Iwatanido Chest. We visited the studio Fujisato Mokkojo where Koichi Oikawa makes this Iwatanido Chest.
”I often think, if we didn’t cut this tree it would have lived for several hundred years. We cut those trees to make the chest so we have to make things that will live for hundreds of years. That is why I do not like the current trend of mass production. I would like this to be used by the people who understand the value of the wood.” he said as he looked at the wood.

Things that change with time

Many things changed through the changes in time. For example, metal fixtures. In the old days, the fixtures that adorned the chest was all metal carved by hand by the artists. But nowadays, most are made by casting from one mold. ”However,” Oikawa commented, ”it doesn’t mean carving is good and the casting is bad. It’s a change with time. In fact casting is more heavy and feels better. The value is different with each person.”
The change with time. It is not necessarily bad, but it is natural. But there are things that do not change such as the beauty of the wood. So by combining those things that change and things that do not change, makes the traditions that carry over to the next generations.

There will not be a loss of interest for creation

Oikawa not only carries on the tradition but also takes on new challenges like incorporating a harmonica into a chest. ”I can’t really call this an Iwatanido chest”, he told us as he showed us a chest with a harmonica set in the drawer, so it would play as the drawer was opened.
At Oikawa’s gallery, there were many products which were not chests. Originally he wanted to do carving when he was young. But since you could not start this from the beginning, he entered an apprenticeship under his friend’s father who was a cabinet maker. This is how he became an artisan. With that in mind, he carves as much as he can while in most cases, carving metal is usually done by others with division of labor.
He still has the desire to carve wood. ”I bought a piece of wood intending to do some carving, but the progress has been very slow.” he explained. We look forward to what is going to be carved on it.


YK Fujisato Mokkojo
185 Kanisawa, Tawara, Esashi-ku, Oshu, Iwate Prefecture