My Small Tansu

On the way to the station for a family outing last Sunday, I found the most exciting thing at a little resale shop. A nice, old, beat-up tansu! I couldn't believe my luck. Usually, I only see strange clocks and video games scattered in cardboard boxes there. The tansu was marked ¥5,000, but I bargained it down to ¥4,000. 
Of course, I already have the large tansu that I bought at Oriental Bazaar. This one, though, is small like the size of a tool box. My guess is that it's a choba-tansu that was used for shodo or sumi-e, because when I opened one of the four compartments I found these black pieces of sumi, the stuff that you grind to make black ink. 
I also discovered a secret storage compartment on the top. Well, maybe it's not really secret, but when I pressed down on a round button, up popped the top. It's a perfect space for keeping my paint and stencil brushes!
And then there are two drawers that are the perfect size for storing all my washi tape! How exciting. This little tansu is just what I needed to keep my Japanese craft supplies all organized. 
The hardware on it is just great. It has a mochiokuri on the top so I can carry it around and elegant hikite (drawer pulls).  
My favorite feature is the jomae, the lock plate on the face of one of the drawers. 

It's just so cool. I can't believe anyone would ever want to part with it, but lucky for me, someone did!


Anonymous said…
Excellent! And you can't buy it on t.v.!
Lisa said…
It's beautiful. I love old stuff.
Anonymous said…
It's called a kake suzuri bako (or just a suzuri bako). It's a writing box. you would put your hanko (family seal) in the locked drawer and brushes in the drawer next to it. You would also keep your inkstone and paper in the box. probably meiji jidai (Meiji era).
Vanessa said…
fascinating. i can keep my hanko in the locked drawer. if it is in fact from the meiji era it's much older than i thought. i'll have to take it to the antiques road show! thanks for the info, anonymous!
Anonymous said…
Hey, I'd really like to email you about something I'm doing for a craft magazine... could you drop me a line on
Vanessa said…
hi. if you'd like to submit something for me to feature, please email me at thanks.

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