5 Japanese Furniture Pieces That Combine Timeless Tradition with Modern Designs

Japanese Furniture

What do you imagine when you hear the words “Japanese furniture”? Perhaps a chabudai (low, round table) atop a tatami straw mat? Maybe a wooden chest of drawers? Many Japanese families still own things like that, but in recent years, more affordable, modern furniture has also become popular. Still, it’s the authentic pieces that can last you a lifetime that continue to be the most in demand, despite their high price. In this article, we’ll introduce some gorgeous Japanese furniture available online, scored based on the price, quality, and design. Keep on reading to find out more.

The History and Characteristics of Japanese Furniture

In the past, Japanese houses were primarily spacious wooden structures consisting of a pillar, a roof, and some walls. The inside had an open plan, and to divide the space, people would use byobu (folding screens which were made from wood and durable paper), tsuitate (portioning screens which were made from wooden planks), and fusuma (sliding doors).

Japanese people take off their shoes when entering a house and sit on the floor, so for a long time they didn’t have much use for furniture. Things like chests of drawers only started appearing in Japanese houses from the late 16th to the 17th century.

Traditional Japanese furniture is meant to complement the Japanese way of life, which is why, for example, they rarely have legs, the design is usually very simple and unadorned, they aren’t very tall, etc. But in recent years, life in Japan has westernized, and traditional Japanese furniture started slowly disappearing.

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1. YAMAZEN ESK-751(B) Casual Kotatsu Japanese Heated Table 75×75 cm Black

Source: Amazon.com

Score: ★★★★☆

This is a product by Japanese manufacturer Yamazen. It’s called a kotatsu: a table with a heater underneath and a removable countertop that can be used to secure a comforter. It’s frequently used by Japanese people during the winter. This model is very compact, so moving it around to warm yourself up wherever you are is easy to do. As with most kotatsu, the corners are rounded to prevent injury. During the summer, the kotatsu also makes a handy coffee table. All of that plus the affordable price makes it very easy to instantly fall in love with this product after just one use. However, please note that this is a Japan-made product, so you’ll need a transformer to use it abroad.

Size: 29.5″ x 29.5″ x 15.3″ (74.9 cm x 74.9 cm x 38.8 cm)
Item Weight: 28.22 lbs (12.8 kg)
Color: Black / White
Material: Engineered wood
Brand: YAMAZEN

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2. AZUMAYA Wooden Coffee Side Table HOT-535NA Natural Ash Wood Magazine Rack

Source: Amazon.com

Score: ★★★★☆

This is a side table made by Azumaya, a Japanese furniture manufacturer founded over 100 years ago. You can place it next to a sofa and put drinks on it or use it as a stand for a computer. The table boasts a simple design that you’ll never get tired of, and assembling it is the easiest thing in the world. All in all, it’s a very handy piece that will look great in any house. It also has a conveniently built-in rack for storing newspapers or magazines. With all that quality and at that low price, this table is a really great deal.

Size: 17.3″ x 15.3″ x 21.6″ (43.9 cm x 38.8 cm x 54.8 cm)
Material: Natural Solid Ash Wood
Brand: AZUMAYA

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3. AZUMAYA Folding Wooden Coffee Center Table NET-614

Source: Amazon.com

Score: ★★★★★

This is another table by Azumaya. This piece is conveniently foldable and its chic design makes it work in any setting or room. You just can’t beat this kind of quality and size at this price.

Size: 41.3″ x 17.7″ x 15″ (104.9 cm x 44.9 cm x 38.1 cm)
Item Weight: 25 lbs (11.3 kg)
Material: Walnut wood
Brand: Azumaya Japan

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4. [Storage Box] Paulownia Cabinet (Clear Wood) | Kamo Paulownia Chests

Source: BECOS

Score: ★★★★★

This storage box was produced by hand by traditional craftspeople specializing in chests made from Kamo paulownia, a type of wood from Niigata Prefecture. Paulownia is known for absorbing and eliminating moisture, which keeps the humidity inside a paulownia box at a steady level. Japan is a very humid country, so paulownia wood has long been used to make furniture for storing valuables like kimono, books, or furnishings. This box made by Nomoto Kirihako Seisakusha has fronts that you need to slide to the side to open, so its width can be adjusted from 30 cm when fully closed to 51 cm when fully opened to showcase the ornaments and objects inside. Considering the quality of the material and the price, this storage box is a really great deal.

Size: W11.81~20.07″ x D4.40″ x H9.84″ (W30.0~51.0 cm x D11.2 cm x H25.0 cm)
Color: Clear Wood / Black Urethane / Gray Paulownia
Material: Natural paulownia
Brand: NOMOTO KIRIHAKO SEISAKUSHA

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5. Youbi Made in Japan Hinoki Pure Wood Large Size Bath Stool

Source: Amazon.com

Score: ★★★★★

For centuries now, Japanese bathtubs have been made from cypress (hinoki) wood, which is praised for its water-resistant and rot-resistant qualities, as well as its pleasant smell. It’s why hinoki is also used to make cutting boards. This is a hinoki bath stool, available now for a very affordable price. Because of its size, anyone can use it, but take note that after a few years of use, the stool may become moldy. If that happens, you can just dry it out in the sun* or buy a new one and enjoy more of that refreshing cypress wood smell.

* Don’t leave the stool out under the scorching sun for too long, otherwise it may crack.

Size: W12″ x D7.1″ x H7.5″ (W30.5 cm x D18 cm x H19.5 cm)
Material: Japanese cypress hinoki wood
Brand: Youbi

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*These products may not be able to be shipped to certain countries. Please see the retailer’s website for more information.

The information in this article is accurate at the time of publication.

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