Back to previous page

~Past Event~
2012 Information

The 14th Annual Aki Matsuri
September 8 & 9, 2012 at the Bellevue College Main Campus

~ 2012 Aki Matsuri Featured ~

(4th Generation Sendai Tansu Blacksmiths And Chaser)

"Photo Courtesy of Mr. Eikichi Yaegashi

The 2012 Aki Matsuri "Featured Guest from Japan" program invited Mr. Eikichi Yaegashi, a highly skilled blacksmith and chaser from Sendai-shi who makes very decorative steel handles, lock plates, and other hardware for the Sendai Tansu (a chest of drawers).

Sendai Tansu is a traditional craft of Miyagi Prefecture. The tansu's main frame is build using several types of wood: Keyaki (zelkova tree) for the drawer fronts, kiri (paulownia) for inside of the drawers, keyaki, sugi (Japanese cedar), or kuri (chestnut tree) for the side. Drawer fronts are made shiny as a mirror by applying multiple coatings of Urushi (Japanese lacquer), and then the tansu is completed with the fabrication and installation of 200 ~ 300 beautiful metal fittings made by the blacksmith and chaser.

Yaegashi-san's grandfather (1st generation), father (2nd generation), and his oldest brother (3rd generation) were all skilled blacksmiths and chasers of Sendai Tansu before him. This highly refined master craftsmanship was passed to Yaegashi Eikichi san now operating his own shop, the "Yaegashi Sendai Tansu Metal Fitting Craft Studio" located in Wakabayashi-ku, Sendai-shi as the 4th generation Sendai Tansu blacksmith and chaser of the Yaegashi family. He designs, makes and installs 200 ~ 300 hand-crafted metal fittings for his customers by "special order". These metal fittings are a key element in making each Tansu a unique "one of a kind" work of art. He also restores and repairs metal fittings of old Sendai Tansu. In recent years, he has begun to actively conduct demonstrations in various places such as festivals in Miyagi Prefecture, attend exhibits, and visit schools in order to educate people about this special traditional master craftsmanship.

Yaegashi-san's hand-made metal fittings for Sendai Tansu were displayed at the 2012 Aki Matsuri. He demonstrated how to make these traditional metal fittings by embossing and incising three-dimensional, dainty yet impressive figures on thin steel plates employing a Tagane (chisel) and Kanazuchi (hammer). The tools he uses were also hand-made by Yaegashi-san.

This was indeed a very special opportunity to meet such a top class skilled artisan in person, listen to his distinctive rhythm as his hammer came in contact with the chisel head, and appreciate his work of art embodied only by human hand.

*Doomo Arigatou Gozaimashita to Mrs. Toshiko Yaegashi, Mrs. Junko Maeda, and Mrs. Akiko Kurosawa for your invaluable support!

Back to Top

Yaegashi-san's Brief Bio
  1936 Born as the 9th child of Daikichi Yaegashi, the second generation blacksmith and chaser to make metal fittings for Sendai Tansu. While studying at the middle school, he started helping his father's business of making metal fittings for Sendai Tansu
  1948 His father Daikichi made metal fittings for Sendai Dansu ordered by General of the Army Douglas MacArthur's wife, Mrs. Jean MacArthur. This Tansu was brought back to the USA in 1951 and is now kept in the MacArthur Memorial in Virginia
  1951 After graduating from middle school, he worked in a hotel restaurant in Sendai.
  1956 He decided to become a blacksmith and chaser and started his apprentice training under his father and oldest brother (3rd generation, Shigeru) at his father's shop.
  1958 Per special request from Miyagi Prefecture, his oldest brother and he made metal fittings for a Sendai Tansu which was presented to Ms. Michiko Shoda (now Honorable Empress Michiko) to commemorate the royal engagement.
  1991 He opened his shop, "Yaegashi Sendai Tansu Metal Fitting Craft Studio".
  1996 He received an award from the Mayor of Sendai-shi for his contribution as a Metal Fitting Artisan for Sendai Tansu
  2003 Received Traditional Crafts Industry Merit Award.
  2005 Received Hokkaido/Tohoku Regional Award from Pola Foundation for the Promotion of Traditional Japanese Culture
  2006 Featured as a master Craftsperson in Japan's NHK TV Program, "Bi no Tsubo"
  2009 Published his book "Kazari Kanagu no Kagayaki (ISBN978-4-915948-52-7)" from Sasaki Printing & Publishing Co., Ltd.
  2012 Featured as a master craft person in "SERAI" Magazine August issue

Back to Top

What is Sendai Tansu?

Sendai Tansu is a kind of chest of drawers used for storage, and has been made and used in the Sendai region (a castle town controlled by the Date clan) since the end of the Edo period (1603-1868). It is said that a prototype of the Tansu as it currently exists was established in the early Meiji period (1868-1912). Sendai Tansu making was designated as a traditional craft of Miyagi Prefecture in 1991.
Making traditional Sendai Tansu is accomplished by way of a three step process, and there are three different artisans specializing in each of the three (3) steps.
  • Sashimono-shi (joiner) builds the main frame using several types of wood: Keyaki (zelkova tree) for the drawer fronts, kiri (paulownia) for inside of the drawers, keyaki, sugi (Japanese cedar), or kuri (chestnut tree) for the sides.

  • Nuri-shi (lacquer smith) coats the outer surfaces of the tansu with Urushi (Japanese lacquer) in order to bring out the grain of the natural wood and provide a luster to the finish.

  • Kanagu Shokunin (blacksmith and chaser) makes handles, lock plates, and other hardware in various sizes and shapes, and installs them onto the Tansu. These 200~300 hand-crafted metal fittings make each Tansu a unique "one of a kind" work of art.
It usually requires one to two years for these artisans to make a typical rectangular Tansu (around 120 cm wide, 90 cm in high, and 45 - 90 cm deep). This is truly a work of art embodied in each Tansu by these highly skilled artisans.

Meiji Period (1868-1912).
37¾" high x 47" wide x 17½" deep

Example: Courtesy of Honeychurch Antiques

Japanese two sectional clothing chest (isho kasane dansu) from the Sendai region, north of Tokyo. The tansu with keyaki (zelkova) wood drawer and door fronts with rich translucent red lacquer finish and sugi (cryptomeria) wood case.

The doors and drawers with particularly spectacular embossed and repousse iron hardware in the form of shishi (lion dogs) and peony (botan) flower arabesque. With warabite (bracken) type drawer pulls further decorated with a stamped design. The small hinged door in the lower right hand corner (kobirakido) with small drawers behind for the storage of personal valuables.

Back to Top


- Specializing in Fine Asian Antique Art -

We wish to recognize Honeychurch Antiques' Gallery Manager, Mr. Patrick Campbell for the kind and generous support and partnership in providing outstanding example(s) of the Sendai Tansu, and other Asian Art pieces. The physical presence of the "finished product" greatly enhanced the educational aspects of the art-form represented by Yaegashi san allowing the matsuri visitors a wider and deeper appreciation for the craftsmanship and the Sendai Tansu.

Established in 1963; Honeychurch Antiques is one of the premier dealers of fine Asian art and antiques with branches in Hong Kong and Seattle. Run by third generation antiques dealers John and Laurie Fairman, Honeychurch is filled with a richly curated selection of Chinese and Japanese furniture, sculpture, ceramics, screens, tribal arts, architectural elements and ethnographic objects from across Southeast Asia. Opening in 1998, Glenn Richards, our gallery warehouse, specializes in both antique Asian furnishings and contemporary ceramics for everyday use. In November, Glenn Richard's hosts an annual Mingei Pottery invitational, which showcases the talents of over a dozen Northwest potters working in the Japanese folk tradition. After a recent move and renovation, both galleries can now be found under the same roof in Seattle's South Lake Union neighborhood.

Contact Information:

Honeychurch Antiques
964 Denny Way, Seattle, WA 98109
Tel. 206.622.1225

Glenn Richards
964 Denny Way, Seattle, WA 98109
Tel. 206.287.1877

Monday-Friday: 10 am - 6 pm
Saturday: 10 am - 5 pm
Sunday: 12 pm - 5 pm

Hosting Provided by
Pacific Software Publishing, Inc.
Copyright © 1998-2015 ENMA
Back to Top