The art of making furniture is universal—it is a craft, an ancient craft that requires patience and a profound knowledge of wood. Japan is nearly 70% forest, which has provided an ample supply—dating back 1,300 years. Perched in the retail epicenter of Hollywood and Highland is Japan House, an oasis of creativity and calm.  It is there that we found this current exhibit with a display of beautiful woodwork seen here for the first time.

JAPAN HOUSE Los Angeles is proud to announce the exhibition “HIDA | A Woodwork Tradition in the Making,” which brings Japanese woodcraft from its spiritual homeland of the Hida region of Japan to Los Angeles for the first time. On display from January 16 through April 12, the exhibition invites visitors to discover the legendary craftsmen of Hida and their design legacy today, embodied in the work of century-old furniture maker Hida Sangyo Co., Ltd. Select items on display include a chair designed by the late Sori Yanagi utilizing wood-bending techniques native to Hida and part of the permanent collection at the Victoria & Albert Museum, London; and a branch spoon created by Ibuki Kaiyama utilizing a traditional chiseling technique.

Located in the center of the country in Gifu Prefecture, the Hida region became known for its woodworking traditions and skilled artisans 1,300 years ago. This fame continues today through innovative design and sustainable use of the region’s forests, particularly the iconic cedar tree, in everything from contemporary furniture to fragrant aroma oils.

The furniture maker Hida Sangyo Co., Ltd was founded in the region in 1920, and for nearly a hundred years has prioritized four core principles: Forest, Human, Time and Craft. Engaging all five senses, the exhibition guides visitors to experience these themes for themselves: coexistence with the forest (Forest), consideration of inherent human needs (Human), a legacy cultivated through time (Time), and a continuous refinement of craft (Craft). Displays will highlight regional specialties such as Hida-shunkei lacquerware, Ichii wood carving (Ichii itto bori — Japanese yew carving), and mageki (wood bending), as well as materials, prototypes, and products developed by Hida Sangyo and its frequent collaborations with some of the world’s top contemporary designers, such as Enzo Mari and Sori Yanagi.

The exhibition will also spotlight where tradition meets technology and innovation, such as Hida Sangyo’s revolutionary wood compression techniques with cedar. This sustainable domestic wood is typically too soft for long-lasting furniture, but in the Hida Sangyo factory, cedar is compressed and strengthened for use in durable chairs, tables and flooring imbued with cedar’s subtle scent. As a business leader, Hida Sangyo’s success has also influenced a community of other manufacturers to stay in, or migrate to, the Hida area, furthering the time-honored mastery of the region’s woodcraft.

Exhibition Credits:
Presented by JAPAN HOUSE Los Angeles
Exhibition contents provided by Hida Sangyo Co., Ltd.
Exhibition and Graphic Design | Daigo Daikoku
Planning and Production Assistance | Intertrend Communications, Inc.
Content Contribution | Historical Archive Office, Takayama City Board of Education

For more information on all programs, please visit https://www.japanhouse.jp/losangeles

Photography by Takaya Sakano

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