Friday, 10 May 2019

Tansu for my kimono

I have been collecting kimono since 1991, first by default (I needed kimono for tea ceremony), then I acquired a few more because my neighbours, the Obiya family, taught me how to sew kimono in Yuza-machi, and then I just started buying more, because I loved them! Some are to wear, but the bulk of my collection is for design inspiration, and are too old/small/delicate to be worn.  The one thing I have never had is a proper kimono tansu to store them in. So recently, I started looking...

We found quite a few old tansu on recent trips to Japan, but the logistics of getting them shipped over here proved difficult.  It would cost a lot to ship one (over £1000), then there would be the cost of Customs Duty and VAT, plus the risk that it could get damaged on the way over. These are some of the tansu we looked at in second hand shops in Japan. 

I had looked in the UK too, but, unlike in the USA, we don't get many old issho dansu (clothing tansu) for sale here. Most of those that do occasionally come up for sale are not the 'kimono dresser' kind at all - with drawers inside of cupboards, a feature I really like - and tend to be rather expensive antiques.  I also realised I was going to need either more than one, or a very big tansu.

A few weeks ago, I got lucky - the right one appeared on eBay, in the UK! So we bought it and collected it a few weeks ago. We had to hire a van, because it is almost 6ft long, and separates into three sections.

Here is is reassembled temporarily.  It needs a few minor repairs but is in excellent condition for a piece of furniture from c1900.

These are the seller's photos.  It has an interesting history, because it was taken first to Korea during the Japanese occupation, and imported to the UK from there. The wood is Japanese keiyaki (elm), the carcass is mainly pine, and the drawers are kiri (paulownia).

Soon it will be home to my oldest kimono and obi. I love it. You can see some of my kimono collection here, when I had two exhibitions at Llangollen, ten years ago.

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