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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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Japanese Parquetry Collector's Cabinet Late 19th century
Jun 18, 10:00 AM EDT
Japanese Parquetry Collector's Cabinet Late 19th century
by DOYLE Auctioneers & Appraisers
Est: $700- $1,000
$3501 Bid
A Japanese Cha Tansu wooden Tea cabinet 88 x 69 x 28 cm.
Jun 21, 10:00 AM BST
A Japanese Cha Tansu wooden Tea cabinet 88 x 69 x 28 cm.
by Hannam's Auctioneers
Est: £100- £200
£101 Bid
Japanese Marquetry Tansu Cabinet
Jun 23, 10:00 AM CDT
Japanese Marquetry Tansu Cabinet
by Leonard Auction
Est: $200- $400
$1001 Bid
OGGETTISTICA
Jun 19, 10:30 AM CEST
OGGETTISTICA
by Aste Boetto SRL
Est: €300- €350
€3000 Bids
Japanese inlaid & lacqueur cabinet, Meiji
Jun 15, 3:00 PM WEST
Japanese inlaid & lacqueur cabinet, Meiji
by Marques dos Santos
Est: €300- €400
€2000 Bids
A CABINET WITH MARQUETRY (YOSEGI ZAIKU SHODANA).
Jun 18, 2:00 PM CEST
A CABINET WITH MARQUETRY (YOSEGI ZAIKU SHODANA).
by Koller Auctions
Est: CHF1,000- CHF1,500
CHF1,0000 Bids
19th C. Japanese Butsudan Buddhist Altar Cabinet, Meiji
Jun 15, 11:00 AM EDT
19th C. Japanese Butsudan Buddhist Altar Cabinet, Meiji
by Kaminski Auctions
Est: $1,500- $2,000
$7500 Bids
A FINE LACQUERED WOOD CABINET REFERENCING VARIOUS POPULAR LEGENDS
Jun 14, 10:00 AM CEST
A FINE LACQUERED WOOD CABINET REFERENCING VARIOUS POPULAR LEGENDS
by Galerie Zacke
Est: €1,000- €2,000
€1,0000 Bids
A Japanese black lacquered serpentine two door cabinet, decorated with inse
Jun 19, 10:30 AM BST
A Japanese black lacquered serpentine two door cabinet, decorated with inse
by Bamfords Auctioneers and Valuers Ltd
Est: £40- £60
£200 Bids
GRAND CABINET
Jun 18, 2:00 PM CEST
GRAND CABINET
by HVMC - Hôtel des Ventes de Monte-Carlo
Est: €3,000- €5,000
€3,0000 Bids
Japanese Lacquer, Bone & MOP Display Cabinet
Jun 26, 10:00 AM EDT
Japanese Lacquer, Bone & MOP Display Cabinet
by Everard Auctions and Appraisals
Est: $2,000- $3,000
$1,2000 Bids
A large Japanese wooden Meiji period Step Tansu cabinet 165 x 129 cm
Jun 21, 10:00 AM BST
A large Japanese wooden Meiji period Step Tansu cabinet 165 x 129 cm
by Hannam's Auctioneers
Est: £200- £300
£100 Bids
Antique Japanese Meji Wood Lacquer "Tansu" Cabinet
Jun 23, 10:00 AM EDT
Antique Japanese Meji Wood Lacquer "Tansu" Cabinet
by World Auction Gallery
Est: $200- $300
$1000 Bids
An antique Japanese hardwood brass bound chest 55 x 63 x 37 cm.
Jun 21, 10:00 AM BST
An antique Japanese hardwood brass bound chest 55 x 63 x 37 cm.
by Hannam's Auctioneers
Est: £50- £100
£40 Bids
small "Japanese style" art Deco table cabinet in painted and lacquered woo
Jun 23, 2:00 PM CEST
small "Japanese style" art Deco table cabinet in painted and lacquered woo
by DVC
Est: €0- €200
€100 Bids
Japanese Iron Mounted Two Drawer Tansu Chest and Pair of Panels
Jun 23, 12:00 PM EDT
Japanese Iron Mounted Two Drawer Tansu Chest and Pair of Panels
by Locati LLC
Est: $200- $300
$1000 Bids
KURUMA TANSU
Jun 18, 2:00 PM CEST
KURUMA TANSU
by HVMC - Hôtel des Ventes de Monte-Carlo
Est: €300- €500
€3000 Bids
A SUPERB AND LARGE LACQUER CABINET DEPICTING KUJAKU (PEACOCKS) AND SAKURA (CHERRY) BLOSSOMS
Jun 14, 10:00 AM CEST
A SUPERB AND LARGE LACQUER CABINET DEPICTING KUJAKU (PEACOCKS) AND SAKURA (CHERRY) BLOSSOMS
by Galerie Zacke
Est: €3,000- €6,000
€3,0000 Bids
GRAND COFFRE
Jun 18, 2:00 PM CEST
GRAND COFFRE
by HVMC - Hôtel des Ventes de Monte-Carlo
Est: €12,000- €18,000
€12,0000 Bids
Japanese Lacquered & Gilt Decorated Kodansu
Jun 18, 11:00 AM EDT
Japanese Lacquered & Gilt Decorated Kodansu
by Auctions at Showplace
Est: $400- $600
$1000 Bids
19TH C. JAPANESE HARDWOOD SHODONA CABINET, MEIJI PERIOD
Jun 14, 1:30 PM PDT
19TH C. JAPANESE HARDWOOD SHODONA CABINET, MEIJI PERIOD
by Auction Plus, Inc.
Est: $12,000- $15,000
$8,0000 Bids

Sellers Who Sell Japanese Cabinets, Armoires & Cupboards


Hannam's Auctioneers

Hannam's Auctioneers

HVMC - Hôtel des Ventes de Monte-Carlo

HVMC - Hôtel des Ventes de Monte-Carlo

Galerie Zacke

Galerie Zacke

Twents Veilinghuis

Twents Veilinghuis