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Tansu Chests - A Classic Element of Japanese Furniture

The Tansu originated during Japan's Edo period (1603-1868), a time regarded for economic expansion in which standards of living for common people improved. With a growing merchant class and more personal wealth, individuals were able to accumulate more possessions than ever before, and this created the need for adequate personal storage.

Storage cabinetry referred to as 'Tansu' became commonplace in Japan during this time. Traditionally, Tansu chests took several different forms designed for their specific purpose, but all styles of Tansu cabinetry share certain basic qualities:

  • Simple geometry and minimalist design with little ornamentation (zen aesthetic principles)
  • No legs
  • Commonly crafted using either soft woods or hard woods
  • Dry or lacquered finish
  • Iron hardware often with looping handles for drawer pulls or carrying (traditionally, iron plating was also used to reinforce joints)

The Step Tansu

One form that developed later during the 19th century was the 'Kaidan-dansu', or Step Tansu Chest. There are a few theories as to the exact reason this form developed, but it is generally believed that along with their storage functions, they doubled as a modular staircase to get to the upper level of homes in Japan.

It is a beautiful and unique piece of furniture, but it also makes a great room divider. The tansus featured on ChinaFurnitureOnline are identical on both sides, so you may orient it any way you please within your space. Our tansus are expertly constructed by artisans in China using Northern Chinese Elm wood. They all feature numerous drawers and interior compartments making them ideal for storage accomodations. Additionally, the steps of the tansu are great for displaying treasured collectibles and decorative items.

Black Step Tansu Chest

The step tansu provides platforms that are
great for displaying decorative items.

Japanese Style Furniture

Expertly constructed with Elmwood by artisans in China,
this step tansu is identical on both sides

Japanese Tansu Chest

Our tansu style sideboard retains age-old
qualities of practical uses and classic beauty

Other Styles of Tansu Cabinets

Influenced by traditional Japanese furniture design, our Tansu style sideboards are reproductions that retain age-old qualities of practical uses and classic beauty. If the shape of the step tansu does not fit your taste, the tansu sideboard is a good alternative, with a simple yet attractive contemporary design and and plenty of storage space. ChinaFurnitureOnline.com offers many styles and  oriental furniture options to meet these needs.

Shop Tansu Chests

Browse Featured Products

Petite Step Tansu Chest

Petite Step Tansu Chest - Dark Cherry

Ming Style Step Tansu - Black

Ming Style Tansu Chest - Black Matte

Japanese Step Tansu Chest

Japanese Step Tansu Chest - Tea Finish


Date Modified: 2019-12-9

Date Published:

Author: J. Chou

Publisher: China Furniture and Arts Enterprises Inc.