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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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Monumental Japanese Meiji Shibayama Wooden Cabinet
Dec 20, 12:00 PM EST
Monumental Japanese Meiji Shibayama Wooden Cabinet
by Akiba Antiques
Est: $2,000- $6,000
$5502 Bids
A SPLENDID GOLD- AND RED-LACQUER DISPLAY CABINET
Dec 08, 9:30 AM CET
A SPLENDID GOLD- AND RED-LACQUER DISPLAY CABINET
by Nagel Auction
Est: €4,000- €6,000
€4,0001 Bid
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GRAND CABINET SHODANA EN BOIS LAQUÉ OR ET NOIR Japon, fin de l'époque Meiji (1868-1912)
Dec 06, 2:00 PM CET
GRAND CABINET SHODANA EN BOIS LAQUÉ OR ET NOIR Japon, fin de l'époque Meiji (1868-1912)
by Artcurial
Est: €4,000- €6,000
€4,0001 Bid
Japanese Zushi of Nichiren Altar / Shrine, 18-19th century black lacquer cabinet
Dec 18, 10:00 AM PST
Japanese Zushi of Nichiren Altar / Shrine, 18-19th century black lacquer cabinet
by Global Auctions Company
Est: $900- $1,200
$7000 Bids
JAPON, Tansu en 2 éléments à quatre tiroirs
Dec 06, 2:00 PM CET
JAPON, Tansu en 2 éléments à quatre tiroirs
by Dogny Auction
Est: CHF800- CHF1,200
CHF8000 Bids
A JAPANESE MIZUYA KITCHEN CABINET MEIJI PERIOD (1868-1912)
Dec 05, 6:00 PM AEDT
A JAPANESE MIZUYA KITCHEN CABINET MEIJI PERIOD (1868-1912)
by Leonard Joel
Est: AUD1,000- AUD1,500
AUD9000 Bids
A kiri wood medicine chest (kusuri tansu). 19th century
Dec 09, 11:00 AM CET
A kiri wood medicine chest (kusuri tansu). 19th century
by Kunsthaus Lempertz KG
Est: €1,000- €1,500
€7500 Bids
A LARGE SHIBAYAMA STYLE DISPLAY CABINET
Dec 08, 9:30 AM CET
A LARGE SHIBAYAMA STYLE DISPLAY CABINET
by Nagel Auction
Est: €2,500- €3,500
€2,4000 Bids
A SMALL METAL-FITTED WOOD CABINET
Dec 07, 9:30 AM CET
A SMALL METAL-FITTED WOOD CABINET
by Nagel Auction
Est: €200- €300
€2000 Bids
A MAGNIFICIENT SHIBAYAMA HARDWOOD DISPLAY CABINET
Dec 08, 9:30 AM CET
A MAGNIFICIENT SHIBAYAMA HARDWOOD DISPLAY CABINET
by Nagel Auction
Est: €15,000- €25,000
€15,0000 Bids
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19TH C. JAPANESE TANSU
Dec 07, 10:00 AM EST
19TH C. JAPANESE TANSU
by Litchfield Auctions
Est: $400- $600
$2000 Bids
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CABINET SHODANA EN BOIS LAQUÉ OR, ROUGE ET NOIR Japon, fin de l'époque Meiji (1868-1912)
Dec 06, 2:00 PM CET
CABINET SHODANA EN BOIS LAQUÉ OR, ROUGE ET NOIR Japon, fin de l'époque Meiji (1868-1912)
by Artcurial
Est: €1,200- €1,800
€1,2000 Bids
EIN ZWEITEILIGES TANSU AUS HOLZ
Dec 08, 10:00 AM CET
EIN ZWEITEILIGES TANSU AUS HOLZ
by Hargesheimer Kunstauktionen Düsseldorf
Est: €200- €400
€2000 Bids
SMALL DRAWER CABINET ON WHEELS (KURUMA DANSU) WITH SLIDING DOORS
Dec 08, 9:30 AM CET
SMALL DRAWER CABINET ON WHEELS (KURUMA DANSU) WITH SLIDING DOORS
by Nagel Auction
Est: €400- €600
€4000 Bids
Mobile Choba Dansun
Dec 15, 2:00 PM CET
Mobile Choba Dansun
by Viscontea Casa d'Aste s.r.l.
Est: €3,000- €4,000
€2,5000 Bids
Japanese Small Lacquered Wood and Parquetry Tansu, Meiji Period
Dec 14, 10:00 AM EST
Japanese Small Lacquered Wood and Parquetry Tansu, Meiji Period
by Material Culture
Est: $400- $600
$2000 Bids

Sellers Who Sell Japanese Cabinets, Armoires & Cupboards


Nagel Auction

Nagel Auction

Eldred's

Eldred's

Artcurial

Artcurial

Kunsthaus Lempertz KG

Kunsthaus Lempertz KG