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Handsomely crafted “stools” created by a frame & folding screen manufacturer

DENTOU KOUGEI

Toshihiko Fukumaki

A showroom of furniture from the corner of a forest village

When you hear the name “DENTOU KOUGEI” (literally traditional furniture maker), you may wonder what kind of furniture does this factory make in this forest village called Joge-cho of Fuchu City. The showroom of DENTOU KOUGEI CO., LTD. located in a forest village looks like any modern interior shop. Products of house-brands and are arranged in a discreet manner, while the soft warmth of wood exists in minimalist frames of the smooth tables and chairs.

New challenge, evolving traditions of a town

DENTOU KOUGEI was founded in 1983 in Joge-cho, Fuchu City, where a tradition of practicing the art of calligraphy has continued since ancient times. Once known as a manufacturer of frames, folding screens, single-leaf screens, teaware, etc., for displaying works of calligraphy, times changed, and in 2012, DENTOU KOUGEI started to manufacture furniture. At the start of 2015, they launched their own in-house table and chair brand , and made the transition to interior manufacturing.
Toshihiko Fukumaki, DENTOU KOUGEI’s company representative, says, “I never imagined we would go from making frames and folding screens to furniture.” In an earlier work experience he had devoted himself to learning to be a cook until he was 24, but after getting married, he decided to help his wife’s parents’ family business. “I enjoyed manufacturing, and just imagined that eggs and cabbage had turned into chisels and saws.”
The challenge of making furniture was triggered in part by a request from KOKOROISHI KOUGEI Co., Ltd., the leather sofa manufacturer in Fukuyama City. They wondered if DENTOU KOUGEI could make furniture. While struggling through that first order, he realized he had a special technique that was not readily employed or even thought of by typical makers.

Folding screen craftsmanship by “three-way mitering” adopted for furniture-making

This is “three-way mitering,” a special technique used in fastening the edges of folding screens. The “corner” formed by an intersection of straight lines extended from three directions is tightly fastened with great precision by fitting a piece of wood called a “dabo (dowel)” into joint surfaces without use of metal fittings. The strength is high because it is joined from three directions. “However, if there is even a slight misalignment, it cannot be assembled. Craftsmanship takes many years of experience but because we could adopt this technique directly to the manufacturing of sofa legs, it was a breakthrough for us.”

Because it is a small factory, all processes are completed by hand

“This is furniture only we can create.” Mr. Fukumaki who felt inspired and confident not only conducted OEM production but also started manufacturing DENTOU KOUGEI’s own table and chair brand . He adopted the three-way mitering technique and other techniques to the furniture-making business, such as whittling frames smoothly with use of wood cutting tools, and started manufacturing “furniture that conceptually and technically could not be made by typical furniture manufacturers.” Although the brand is still relatively new, -brand furniture has become so popular that orders come not only from ordinary homes but also hotels and shops across Japan. “Since we are a small furniture maker, we are not thinking about mass-production. We are determined to make each of our products with our own hands.
-brand stacking stools have slick and smooth surface textures. There is no point where clothing could catch from the legs to the backs. Mr. Fukumaki says, “ means smooth in Italian.” The brand name seems to represent their rock-solid confidence in furniture-making.

DENTOU KOUGEI × ANCHOR HOTEL

DENTOU KOUGEI’s <LSICIO>-brand tripod stools made of solid wood are used in each guest room. If you touch the legs and top back, you can really feel the smoothness. Benches from the same brand benches are also used in specially designated rooms.

DENTOU KOUGEI

1503, Jogecho Shinami, Fuchu-shi, Hiroshima, 729-3403, Japan / TEL.0847-62-3377

Established in 1983. Started business as a manufacturer of frames, folding screens, single-leaf screens and teaware in Joge-cho, where the tradition of practicing the art of calligraphy has continued since ancient times. Established their own frame brand in 2012. Shifted their main business to furniture-making, and launched furniture brand in 2015. An exhibition called “Kininaru Seikatsu Ten” is held on the premises of the factory each autumn.

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