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Japanese Traditional Woodwork

Kumiko Woodworking

The “Kumiko” woodwork technique was developed In Japan in the Asuka Period (538-710 AD) has been passed down through the generations.

Wood chips, carefully selected and ground, are thinly and precisely sliced then elaborately assembled chip by chip to construct the Kumiko Ranma by the experienced craftsmen whose skill and passion are preserving the tradition.


For more details about this material, please contact us using the form below. We also welcome special consultations such as suggestions on design ideas and construction techniques, the coordination of designers and constructors, etc.

KUMIKO Wood Screen Collection

Custom KUMIKO Products

Story of Kumiko Woodworking

Kumiko is a delicate and sophisticated technique of assembling wooden pieces without the use of nails. Thinly slit wooden pieces are grooved, punched, and mortised, and then fitted individually using a plane, saw, chisel, and other tools to make fine adjustments. The technique was developed in Japan in the Asuka Era (600-700 AD) and has since been refined and passed down through generations of craftsmen who are passionate about the tradition of Kumiko.


Art of Handwork

The Kumiko technique, which requires professional skill, is mostly used in dividers and sliding doors. But with changing lifestyles, the trend to have fewer or no Japanese-style rooms in the house means that the number of young artisans drawn to the craft is decreasing. Tanihata has been producing Kumiko woodwork since its foundation in 1959, promoting Kumiko, not only for traditional items but also for modern products, thereby bridging the cultures of East and West.


The technique of assembling pieces

Assembling pieces with an accuracy of 0.1mm is performed with special care. For each Hishi and lattice, the frame joints are cut, their edges chamfered and lengths adjusted, each step of the process requiring skill and experience. Different woods have their own characteristics, and as the pieces are made thinner, so the wood becomes more difficult to work with. Knowledge, skill, and experience are required to select the appropriate wood and to process it correctly.


Custom order – laid out piece by piece

Most of our Kumiko woodwork is made to order. We devote time to consult with customers, measurement, and preparation prior to starting production. A full-scale plan at actual size is sometimes drawn up before the woodwork begins. The initial setup can be more time consuming than the actual assembly.

Combination of over 100 patterns of Kumiko
Kumiko designs fall into two broad categories: Hishi Kumiko (diamond shape) and Koshi Kumiko (lattice). Based on a combination of horizontal and vertical lines, and with reference to the selected design, grids are fitted into the frames. There are several hundred variations of Kumiko, each requiring the use of appropriate tools and patterns. Our craftsmen are required to have a passion that drives them to develop their skills and knowledge of all Kumiko designs.

Choosing the correct tools

Experienced craftsmen select the appropriate tools, machines, and knives for the design they are working on. There are numerous types of planes for example, and more woodworking machines are used than in normal furniture factories (more than 70 in our factory), including computer-controlled equipment. It is important to utilize modern technology, both analogue and digital, to facilitate a wide variety of production, and to respond promptly to diverse customer needs.


Beautiful plane-finished coniferous wood

As our products are mostly made from long thin pieces of wood, relatively straight material is preferred, and as a matter of principle, none of our products are painted. Coniferous wood is characterized by its straightness and high-quality fine grain, and is, therefore, suited to this work. Both Japanese and imported coniferous wood, differing in cost, color, and grain, is used.

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