Sashimono (cabinetwork) (指物)

The term "sashimono" is a generic name given to traditional craft products which are made without any joint parts such as nails; for example, furniture, doors, and other household things made by assembling wooden pieces. Also, this term sometimes refers to production techniques of such products.


In sashimono work, products such as furniture are made without any nails. Craftsmen assemble wooden pieces in skillful ways so that products look seamless, and such techniques deserve to be called an art. Accordingly, furniture, doors, and other household things made in such techniques are also referred to as sashimono. There are various opinions about the origin of this term, and one of them has it that this term derives from the fact that 'monosashi' (rulers) are used to make such products.

Types of sashimono

Among various schools in the sashimono world, Kyo-sashimono in Kyoto and Edo-sashimono in Tokyo are particularly famous.

Since Kyo-sashimono was developed in the noble culture of the Heian period and its products were mainly used at the Imperial Court and by court nobles, graceful and fine workmanship constitutes a characteristic feature of this. Kyo-sashimono includes tea ceremony equipment such as tea boxes, trays, hikimono (turned articles such as bowls), and magemono (round containers made by bending slips of Japanese cedar), as well as furnishings such as cabinets, shelves, and desks.

On the other hand, Edo-sashimono was developed in Edo, and its products were mainly used by samurai, townspeople, and merchants. Therefore, excessive decorations are removed and instead, sober-colored lacquer is applied on simple wood grain. Taking advantage of beautiful wood grain of the material characterizes Edo-sashimono.

[Original Japanese]