Japanese Traditional Woodworking

The biggest school event for Japanese students is a school trip, I’m sure. We go on a trip with all the classmates three times in our lifetime: in the sixth grade of elementary school, the third grade of junior high school, and the second grade of high school. It’s a kind of Japanese spring tradition. You can see many students in school uniform in popular sightseeing spots like Kyoto. It’s a tragedy if you stay in the same hotel as a school-trip group, though we (who used to be students having enjoyed school trips) don’t have any right to complain thinking back our own youth days. During the COVID, most of the school trips have been canceled, and I really feel sorry for them.

The most popular destination of high schools in Hokkaido is Kyoto, but I felt so bored at that time, to be honest. It required time for me to appreciate the true value of old temples and shrines. I’ve been studying property leasing business for few years, learning one of the keys to success is the management of loan condition and tax saving (depreciation period). The factors are influenced mainly by the legal durable years of properties. Can you believe this? The legal durable year of wooden buildings is stated to be only 22 years in Japan, though Horyuji temple in Kyoto was built about 1400 years ago and still exists without housing rehabilitation.

Japan, with frequent earthquakes and in a climate of high temperature and humidity, is a harsh environment for any type of buildings. The secret of Horyuji temple is to make use of the flexibility of wood in its structure. The main frame was put together without nails to absorb the shakes of earthquakes, and the expansion and contraction of wood by the change in temperature and humidity. Such wisdom of our ancestors in woodworking is passed onto our products. IPPONGI table is a good example. The tabletop is made from two pieces of wood planks. They are set slightly apart to absorb their expansion and contraction. The anti-warping beam in the back of the tabletop is not fixed but movable in the tapered groove, so that users can adjust it according to the condition of the tabletop. Why don’t you get the table to feel the history of Japanese traditional woodworking?

Shungo Ijima

He is travelling around the world. His passion is to explain Japan to the world, from the unique viewpoint accumulated through his career: overseas posting, MBA holder, former official of the Ministry of Finance.

Photo Credit: http://www.jeffmoeller.com/kiyomizudera-temple/

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