Japanese carpentry is a type of architecture originating from the 12th century and influenced by Chinese architectural techniques. The craft involves the construction of wooden furniture without using nails or screws.
Wood as a material
Japanese carpentry is a centuries-old tradition that uses wood as a material. It incorporates various tools and techniques to produce long-standing structures. The tradition emphasizes craftsmanship and skill, while also emphasizing structure. Many of the buildings constructed with traditional Japanese methods are still in excellent shape today.
Japanese carpentry is considered the oldest form of construction in the world. A large portion of the traditional Japanese houses have stood for hundreds of years, and are highly regarded for their unique appeal.
In addition to traditional wooden houses, the Takenaka Carpentry Tools Museum provides an in-depth look at past building methods. Visitors are able to view more than 32,000 artifacts related to traditional architecture.
Historically, Japanese wood construction has been highly efficient and inventive. However, it also used inferior materials. This contributed to the wariness of wood in contemporary Japanese architecture. Ultimately, modern Japanese woodworking should be considered a style of construction rather than a particular motif.
As Japan developed an understanding of its wood, craftsmen began to use advanced joinery techniques. The mortise and tenon system was a common construction method. With mortises and tenons, pieces could be easily replaced if they were damaged.
Japanese carpentry also uses a variety of tools, including hammers, chisels, and planes. These tools require specific technique to use. They are designed to maintain the shape of the material, as it changes over time.
Steel as a material
Japanese carpentry has long embraced the use of steel as a material. It offers a combination of strength and precision. The ability to resharpen the sharp edges of tools allows for fine detail.
Traditional Japanese carpentry relies on the use of a variety of tools. One of these tools is the Japanese hammer. This tool is used for chisel work and tapping out laminated hardened steel.
Another tool that is widely used is the Japanese plane. The blade is tapered and commonly contains a securing pin. These planes are often made from wood, but some of them have a metal sub-blade.
There are several other types of chisels, each suited to different types of wood. Some of these include the ji-gane and yarigana. Ji-gane is soft, while yarigana is harder. They each have bevel angles of 20@ to 35@.
Although these chisels are used for softwood, the use of a steep bevel angle is necessary when working with hardwood. The blade also has to be ground to an even surface.
Japanese carpentry requires skilled labor and patience. Most of the techniques are developed over many generations. But traditional methods have become endangered as deforestation and modern lifestyles drive down the demand for elaborate carpentry.
A new generation of carpenters will have to find their place. As technology advances and manufacturing methods erode, the sashimono and miyadaiku traditions will be at risk.
Takenaka Carpentry Tools Museum in Kobe
The Takenaka Carpentry Tools Museum in Kobe, Japan is the only museum in the world dedicated to carpentry tools. Opened in 1984 by the Takenaka Corporation, a leading engineering and construction firm in Japan, the museum exhibits the history of traditional Japanese carpentry.
With a collection of over 35,000 items, the Takenaka Museum exhibits the evolution of tools in Japan. Various hands-on displays allow visitors to touch, smell, and see a wide variety of tools.
The Takenaka Museum was built with a clear and airy design that resembles a glass window. Built two-thirds underground, the building is constructed with natural materials.
A dazzling array of wooden works can be seen inside the museum. These include intricate structural replicas of Japanese tea houses and temples. Also featured are the intricate constructions of shoji sliding doors and the exquisite post-and-beam joinery.
The Takenaka Museum is a treasure trove of history, artistry, and woodworking skills. Not only is it the home of a collection of carpentry tools, but the facility also hosts workshops and classes to introduce people to the art of chopstick making and woodworking.
Whether you’re visiting Kobe for the first time or you’re a frequent visitor, the Takenaka Museum offers plenty to see and do. Among its many attractions is a life-size model of a Japanese tea room.