Furniture made where you feel the change of the seasons ”Ogura Tansu”

Furniture made where you feel the change of the seasons
”Ogura Tansu”

An industry that developed because of the river

The 36 companies specializing in producing paulownia chests in Kamo-shi, Niigata produce 80% of national paulownia chest production. There are other areas in Japan that produces paulownia chests, but to Nakata’s question, ”Why is this area still the major producer of paulownia chests?’” Kenichi Ogura, the ninth generation owner answered, ”Aside from the abundant material close at hand, the tools were readily available in this area. The next town is famous for metal fitting, and if you go a little further, there is famous area for swordsmiths. Another aspect is the river. It is good for transportation.” How traditional art and crafts is formed as the local culture can be seen here.

Craftsmanship – as thin as a piece of tissue paper.

Each chest made wholly of Kamo paulownia wood is handmade by accredited Traditional Craftsman at ”Ogura Tansu.” They showed us their craft with 229 years of history at their workshop. ”The front portion of the drawers of western furniture are a little larger than the inner box so that this part will stop the drawer and hide the gap. Japanese furniture do not need to hide the gap, it fits exactly, so this…,” he hands Nakata a piece of shaven wood. ”You see how tissue is two ply, right? The gap is about as thin as a single ply of tissue paper. Very thin. You can fill the space with a piece of tissue.” That is why when a drawer is closed, the air inside have nowhere to go but to open another drawer. The craftsmanship detect and correct the slightest error to create the perfect product.

The features of paulownia wood

There were various shapes and designs of chests at the workshop. These are used so that they can produce pieces that incorporate the clients requests. ”We should answer to these requests because we are craftsmen. We discuss their requests before making any decisions.” ”Any unusual requests in the past? ”Sneakers,” Nakata looked puzzled for a moment. It was a request by a company that wanted a combination of multiple chests to make up a shape of a sneaker for an exhibition. Lastly, Nakata asks a very simple question, ”Why use paulownia?” and Ogura answers, ”Paulownia wood is the most warp-proof wood there is. It is like a sponge, soft. The measurement may change to some extent as it is wood, but compared to material like zelkova, which will curve and twist, paulownia wood will expand and shrink only slightly.”

Paulownia – Breathing wood

There are other reasons for paulownia to be the ideal material for making chests, a furniture especially made for storing clothing. ”Paulownia absorbs excess moisture in air and if the air is dry, the wood emits moisture. Silk’s component is similar to that of human’s, it does not do well too dehydrated or with too much moisture. This is why paulownia is ideal for storing ”kimono.” Paulownia is unquestionably the optimal material for Japan which have the changes of four seasons. Chest made wholly of Kamo Paulownia is a user-friendly product realized by craftsmanship and is also a furniture used lovingly for generations.


Ogura Tansu Y.K.
Tagami-machi, Minamikanbara-gun, Niigata Prefecture