Sep 17, 2018

Tansu guide - find the best tansu for your needs!

Are you looking for authentic Japanese furniture to add to your home? You can buy all kinds of tansu furniture including tansu chests for your kitchen and living room from Amazon. Tansu chests are not only aesthetically pleasing but also designed to serve various purposes. Most of them are made using simple joinery and combined with metal embellishments that make them unique pieces. They give you sufficient storage for items and act as media cabinets by providing surface area for holding electronic equipment. Find out more on Japanese Tansu through our discussion. We will include information regarding their origin, how to get the right piece for your home and their maintenance. Enjoy! [sc name="AMAZON"]

The origin of Tansu

The word Tansu originates from Japan representing a chest or a storage unit that is mobile. The chests have you been used for decades since 1657. It was recorded first during the Edo period which was between 1688 and 1704. Tansu was famous during the Meiji period where people focused on economic growth. They came up with all kinds of tansu as a reflection of their occupation and their class to fill up space in empty houses. People of all classes including samurai and peasants owned tansu during this period. Some of the types of tansu used in the Edo period included choba dansu, kusuri dansu, katana dansu, kaidan dansu, and Nagamochi Kuruma dansu Handbuilt Japanese furniture was originally used for food storage and holding firewood. Craftsmen who were known as Tansuyas specialized in their making. The first chests were not made from wood but Bamboo. Most pieces were used in precise situations such as raising the platform region in a shop or storehouses. Back then, coastal ships also utilized tansu. Since tansu construction was done using heavy materials, people used attached wheels and iron handles to enhance their mobility. The beautiful designs made people expand their purpose. They started becoming more prominent in the culture of Japanese making people experiment with different materials. As the years went by, people started making tansu using various materials such as Elm, Pine, Chestnut, Cedar, and Cypress. Today, tansus are used as stationary objects to decorate homes and hold items. You can choose a modern, or traditional tansu to add texture to your room. They are now used as wardrobes to store clothes as well as holding documents.

What do you need to consider when choosing tansu?


The materials used to make tansu determines its durability. Tansu wood is commonly used in the construction of different pieces. In other cases materials such as copper, brass and steel are also used on different parts of tansu. For a tansu to last for long, it should be made with sturdy materials that can withstand different conditions. Some of the pieces are made from Kiri wood and iron hardware. Choose one that has its latches and hinges made from iron since it is a high-quality material. The materials should also not be too heavy to move around. Light-weight materials are the best when it comes to portability.


Do you need a lot of space to store different items in your file cabinet? Compare the storage space offered by different tansus to choose one that does not limit you to specific items. Count the number of drawers and shelves offered by different chests when determining the space. Some also offer additional shelves for more storage. You can divide items and store them in the different compartments provided by tansu. You also need to consider how much space you have to secure your tansu in your home or office. If your apartment is small, you can measure the space available against the dimensions of the tansu to gauge if the one you desire will fit well in your home. You do not want a tansu that takes up to much space in a small room.

Ease of use

The use of tansu is not the same. Some are easier to use than others. You need one that opens easily through pulling a shelf or a drawer. Features such as iron latches intended for closure can give you problems when it comes to opening your tansu. A tansu can also have an inbuilt locking mechanism while some need keys to open and lock them. An inbuilt mechanism increases ease of use since you don’t have to worry about getting stranded if you misplace your keys. It also makes your stuff secure from any intruders. Your drawers should close and open smoothly without jamming. They should also be removable to make it easy for you to clean them regularly.


Parts such as tansu handles are essential when it comes to transportation of your chest. If you are choosing a large cabinet, ensure that it is portable when it comes to its weight and features. An iron latch, for instance, ensures that your box does not keep on opening when you are moving it. A tansu that has pieces that you can separate is also easy to transport.


Due to the age of tansu, the woodworking may require some repairs. Choose a tansu that is still in good condition without the necessity of numerous repairs. You may find that some tansus have more scratches than others when it comes to the varnish. You do not need a piece that will cost you more expenses in the restoration.


Despite the age of tansu, most of them have elegant styles that make them irresistible. The style that you choose comes down to preference. Some have grain patterns on them while some are designed as a staircase. The step tansu is just a design, and it is not meant to be used as an actual staircase. You can place such a classy tansu against your wall since it acts as a room divider. The steps give you a wide range of display opportunities. Choose one with metal accents that are decorative to symbolize class and bring out sophistication in a piece. You will also notice different patina and color on tansu. Japanese cedar bonsai is also used to decorate tansu.


Different finishes both complex and simple are used in tansu. The finishing used also symbolizes its style. Burnt lacquer, for instance, is used in the finishing of some tansu to give them a protective coating to make them long-lasting and improves its look.


Right from the time they were made, these chests were used for different purposes. Some of them are small to act as Jewelry boxes for holding precious items while others are big to store clothing. Others use a tansu to hold pens in an office setting. You can also get a multipurpose tansu to store anything. Identify why you need a tansu and choose one that will satisfy that need.


The price of tansu differs due to the material used in the making. You may get some that are highly priced, coming with exquisite designs and features. The market also offers second-hand pieces of tansu that imitate the original pieces. Though these may have a low cost, they may not be as long-lasting as those made from sturdy wood. If you need a design such as a step chest, you will have to pay more since they are a unique piece and rare to find. Determine the cost based on its purpose, features, and materials.

How can you maintain your tansu?

Contemporary tansu is now widely used in home decorations. Since tansu is a piece that is not easy to replace, proper maintenance extends its lifespan. The materials and finishing determine how you take care of tansu. You can tell the type of finish on tansu by rubbing some linseed oil on the wood. Boil the oil before using it on the surface. By absorbing the oil, it signifies that your tansu contains an oil finish. In other cases, you may notice oil droplets on the surface in a hard finish. Such a finish does not allow the oil to sink into the wood. Ensure that you don’t expose your tansu to harsh conditions such as direct sunlight. Do not place it next to your window. Keep it away from heat since the wood can lose its original color. Excess humidity and air can also reduce its lifespan by making the material expand. The color may also start fading out of such conditions. You can make use of a dehumidifier to keep your tansu away from moisture. Dust your furniture with a dry piece of cloth so that it does not accumulate dirt. You should do this on a weekly basis. Do not use a lot of water when wiping the surface regularly. Your tansu should come into contact with water after a long time. You can use a damp cloth and furniture soap to clean it. Murphy’s oil is a good soap to use. Rinse off soap with a damp piece of cloth and dry it with one that can absorb excess moisture. Avoid using strong detergents when cleaning tansu. Boil turpentine and linseed oil to make a solution for polishing tansu. After every month, rub this solution on tansu until it gets absorbed completely underneath the surface then leave it to dry. You can polish the wood using a suitable furniture polish to make it shiny. The tansu can stay free from scratches and stains for long if you use a protective layer every time you need to place objects on it. Use a silver cloth when you need to polish the hardware components of tansu. Avoid the use of hardware cleaners on the wood so that they don’t bleach or stain surfaces. A professional can help you restore your tansu from damage caused by age or temperature. You can also restore finishes such as lacquer through the use of soluble dyes to repair damage and blend areas that display wear and tear. Use glue to repair boards that may be cracked and strengthen the cabinet boxes of you tansu. Replace some hardware with forging or reproductions. Clean the hardware using wire brushes made from steel and wax the parts. The parts should also be lubricated once in a while using machine oil to prevent them from corroding. Remove frozen locks for cleaning and oil them frequently.

Final thoughts

The lasting of tansu after centuries is evidence that these pieces are one of a kind. You can get tansu for sale from different online shops to display on your home and store some items. They help you get organized and add aesthetic value to the setting. Feel free to get more information from tansu books sold here.