Chabudai (卓袱台)

Chabu (chabudai), also known as Shippoku, is a Chinese-style table.

A chabudai is a kind of table which was once used in Japan. It is discussed in more detail below.

A chabudai is a four-legged foldaway table made of wood, which was generally used in Japanese homes from the Taisho period, through wartime, to the 1970s. This low table was used for not only dining but also various other purposes such as study or work. Usually they are round, but some are oval or square.

Because the purpose of rooms in Japanese private houses are often not designated or fixed, it is often the case that a room used as a dining room in the daytime is also used as a bedroom at night. Therefore, bedding and furniture are designed to be taken out and put in easily. This is why low tables are collapsible. Uncollapsible low tables are not called chabudai. A small chabudai was used as a dining table for the entire family, a study table for children, and a sewing table for their mother. It was always at the center of the family and represented a happy home. "Chabu" is a table used in China, and its meaning shifts to 'dining' in Japan. There is another term 'kame-chabu' (gyudon beef bowl), but the term is out of date now. Incidentally, hakozen or meimeizen (individual box-shaped tables) had been generally used as dining tables from the Edo to the Meiji period before the chabudai was developed. Each dining table once belonged to an individual person, just as tableware including chopsticks and bowls do nowadays.
The phrase "chabudai-gaeshi" literally means to flip a chabudai over. Of course, it does not refer only to the overturning of the table. Basically it refers to flipping a chabudai and all the tableware and food on it suddenly in the middle of dinner.

This act is an expression of deep anger, and of no longer being able to contain yourself. In most cases, people grip the edge of the chabudai with each hand from below and throw it straight up into the air.

Although tableware on the chabudai flies dramatically into the air, they usually do not go far, as they are crushed under the table which turns upside down in midair. In the TV cartoon "Kyojin no Hoshi" (Star of the Giants), Ittetsu HOSHI, the father of the leading character, is famous for having had a Spartan education.

Because the scene where he flips the chabudai over is repeated in the credits of every episode, the commonly held image of Ittetsu is of 'chabudai-gaeshi.'
In fact, there is only one such scene in the main story of all the episodes.
(To be accurate, this is a scene where Ittetsu gets furious at his son Hyuma about his behavior, knocks the chabudai aside and throws a punch at Hyuma, and as a result, the chabudai is overturned, but the father's act is not precisely 'chabudai-gaeshi.')
Thus chabudai-gaeshi is a somewhat outrageous thing to do. It is therefore sometimes called 'chabudai-gaeshi' when the upper management of a company writes the whole of a project off as a lost cause and gets it restarted from scratch. For instance, Nintendo video-game designer Shigeru MIYAMOTO is so particular about game creation that he often instructs his subordinates to make drastic changes to a product which is almost completed. He himself calls it 'chabudai-gaeshi' after "Kyojin no Hoshi." In the recent movie 'Jigyaku no Uta' (Poetry in Self-abuse) based on Yoshiie GODA's manga, there are a lot of 'chabudai-gaeshi' scenes where Hiroshi ABE, performing the role of Isao HAYAMA, performs this act so beautifully.

[Original Japanese]