Woodworking has thrived in Kumamoto since the Edo Period thanks to the prefecture’s many forests. The Hitoyoshi-Kuma area is famous for its furniture such as chests and various woodturning items made using a lathe. Kawashiri in Kumamoto City is famous for its wooden buckets and barrels. In addition to these, inlay techniques are used in creating various sashimono (furniture made without metal nails) and also carved window transoms.
Hitoyoshi furniture is made using just one wooden board and assembled without metal nails.
The wood is joined together by interlocking teeth and wooden pegs cut by hand. Types of Hitoyoshi-style furniture includes boxes, tables, shelves, and more. They are constructed from wood with beautiful grain textures, such as elm, mulberry, and cherry.
Hikimono are woodworking items that have been formed by carving down a piece of wood as it rotates on an axis quickly with a sharp blade. A varnish is applied at the end to make the surface glossy, highlighting the beauty of the wood grain pattern.
This woodworking technique is perfect for making various everyday items such as bowls and trays.
Magemono are round containers whose sides are made from thin wooden boards that have been softened in boiling water and bent into shape. These containers are usually made from cedar or cypress, with glue used as an adhesive. Cherry tree bark is wound into rope and used to stitch the ends of the board together. The container is completed by attaching a bottom board and a lid. Magemono are often used as lunch boxes.
Transoms are installed between the ceiling and top of the sliding screen door frame in Japanese houses. They are meant to bring in daylight, allow for ventilation, and act as a decorative piece. Camphor, ginko, or Yakushima cedar wood is carved into the basic shape with a chisel, and then a smaller chisel is used for detailed carving. Thin boards 1-3 cm thick may be carved all the way through to make open fretwork, called “usubori,” while thicker boards 7-12 cm thick may be carved to make deep, three-dimensional reliefs, called “atsubori.”
Buckets and Barrels
Japanese wooden buckets and barrels are made from cypress. They are made by leveling down part of the wood with a plane so that metal rings may be wrapped
around to hold the bucket or barrel together. Glue is applied and then dried.
The rings (called “taga”) may be made of bamboo or bronze.