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Japanese Cabinets, Armoires & Cupboards

Japanese cabinets, armoires, and cupboards are all referred to as “tansu”. Tansu were traditionally used to store a variety of things like kimonos, futon, food, firewood, books, and more. These cabinets were rarely permanent, and were usually created to be portable either with wheels for pushing or iron handles for lifting.

Japanese tansu were commonly used during the Edo and Meiji periods. Depending on occupation and purpose, tansu varied in size and configuration. Merchants usually used lightweight chests that had many small drawers and compartments for storage. Merchant class women, however, would have large double-doored tansu to store clothing.


Quick Facts

  • During the Edo period, tansu did not exhibit many variations in style due to strict class regulation in its feudal samurai culture; rank was extremely important and excessive consumerism was discouraged
  • Joints of tansu were typically very simple and needed extra reinforcement. Iron plates were therefore added to joints, later becoming more and more decorative
  • The most prized of tansu, with its heavy use of ironwork and elaborate decoration, is the “sado shima dansu” type. These chests were made both for merchants and clothing

Recommended Items at Auction

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A Japanese two-section kitchen tansu
Mar 03, 11:00 AM AEDT
A Japanese two-section kitchen tansu
by Gibson's
Est: AUD400- AUD600
AUD3002 Bids
Antique Japanese Heavily Carved Cabinet
Feb 29, 12:00 PM EST
Antique Japanese Heavily Carved Cabinet
by Greenwich Auction
Est: $2,000- $3,000
$3001 Bid
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Rare Asian Carved Rosewood Curio Display Cabinet
Mar 14, 2:00 PM EDT
Rare Asian Carved Rosewood Curio Display Cabinet
by Lion and Unicorn
Est: $3,000- $6,000
$2000 Bids
A Japanese paper Mache lacquered sewing cabinet by Jennings & Betridge 30 x 31.5 cm
Mar 01, 10:00 AM GMT
A Japanese paper Mache lacquered sewing cabinet by Jennings & Betridge 30 x 31.5 cm
by Hannam's Auctioneers
Est: £350- £400
£3400 Bids
A Japanese paper Mache lacquered sewing cabinet by Jennings & Betridge 31 x 32 cm
Mar 01, 10:00 AM GMT
A Japanese paper Mache lacquered sewing cabinet by Jennings & Betridge 31 x 32 cm
by Hannam's Auctioneers
Est: £350- £400
£3400 Bids
Mid 20th Century JAPAN 9 Drawer Spice Cabinet
Mar 29, 10:00 AM EDT
Mid 20th Century JAPAN 9 Drawer Spice Cabinet
by Premier Auction Galleries
Est: $50- $1,000
$100 Bids
A modern Japanese inspired bespoke cabinet
Mar 03, 11:00 AM AEDT
A modern Japanese inspired bespoke cabinet
by Gibson's
Est: AUD300- AUD400
AUD2400 Bids
Japanese Brass-Mounted Yew Wood Cabinets, 2
Mar 17, 12:00 PM EDT
Japanese Brass-Mounted Yew Wood Cabinets, 2
by Auctions at Showplace
Est: $600- $800
$1000 Bids
Japanese Tansu, 19th Century.
Mar 09, 10:30 AM PST
Japanese Tansu, 19th Century.
by Turner Auctions + Appraisals
Est: $200- $300
$1000 Bids
Japanese Collector's Cabinet.
Mar 09, 10:30 AM PST
Japanese Collector's Cabinet.
by Turner Auctions + Appraisals
Est: $80- $120
$500 Bids
A modern Japanese inspired bespoke cabinet
Mar 03, 11:00 AM AEDT
A modern Japanese inspired bespoke cabinet
by Gibson's
Est: AUD300- AUD500
AUD2400 Bids
Beautiful Japanese William & Mary Cabinet in lacquer and mother of pearl from the 17th century
Feb 28, 4:30 PM CET
Beautiful Japanese William & Mary Cabinet in lacquer and mother of pearl from the 17th century
by Templum Fine Art Auctions
Est: €15,000- €18,000
€10,0000 Bids
19th Cent. Japanese Inlaid and Lacquered Cabinet on Stand
Mar 12, 12:00 PM EDT
19th Cent. Japanese Inlaid and Lacquered Cabinet on Stand
by Akiba Galleries
Est: $2,000- $6,000
$1,0000 Bids
An elaborately decorated and carved hardwood Shodana cabinet, Meiji period
Mar 03, 11:00 AM AEDT
An elaborately decorated and carved hardwood Shodana cabinet, Meiji period
by Gibson's
Est: AUD5,000- AUD8,000
AUD4,0000 Bids
An impressive hardwood and Shibayama style inlaid gold lacquer Shodana display cabinet, Meiji period
Mar 03, 11:00 AM AEDT
An impressive hardwood and Shibayama style inlaid gold lacquer Shodana display cabinet, Meiji period
by Gibson's
Est: AUD7,000- AUD9,000
AUD5,5000 Bids

Sellers Who Sell Japanese Cabinets, Armoires & Cupboards


Gibson's

Gibson's

Hannam's Auctioneers

Hannam's Auctioneers

Turner Auctions + Appraisals

Turner Auctions + Appraisals

Premier Auction Galleries

Premier Auction Galleries