What is Sendai-tansu?
There are many theories as to its beginning, but it is generally said that the Sendai-tansu’s origin dates back to when the samurai Masamune had ruled the Sendai region. The chief carpenter of that domain, Hyuga Umemura, was commissioned to build Sendai-tansu as furniture to put into Masamune’s castle.
The Sendai-tansu’s characteristic is the strong durable beauty that is the joint artistry of cabinetwork, lacquer, and metal fitting into one form. In the cabinetwork, the front is made of Keyaki (a form of Zelkova) aged from ten years to a few decades and the inside is made using Kiri (commonly known as Empress tree) to avoid deformation. The laquering and polishing is repeated thirty times over in layers. Finally, it is complete after being adorned with metal fittings that have representations associated with good fortune or the family emblem as motifs.
Located in the same land as it was first founded 140 years ago, Monmaya is the most well established brand in Sendai-tansu manufacturing.
Being particular about “genuine inheritance”, Monmaya’s cabinets and drawers are custom-made and repared meticulously by hand using Japanese-grown timber, Joboji lacquer (extracted from trees in Iwate Prefecture, Japan), and artisan-made tools that are spirited by their ingenuity.
Monmaya can repair an old cabinet as though it was brand new. They are able to provide such quality having their own workshop where they practice inherited traditional techniques.
Until the early 1920s, Sendai-tansu manufacturing was mainly done through division of labor. It was the third successor Tamizo, who wanted the tansu craftsmen to carry out their craft with responsibility and pride. He began a system where one whole cabinet could be custom-made and repaired. Through this system, many craftsmen were trained to top standards. In inheriting his belief we continue to train craftsmen and manufacture indifferent to the past, as we must let such traditional skills be inherited to the future.