The Japanese Kitchen

A kamado in a traditional Japanese kitchen

Jcollector offers a variety of antique and traditional Japanese kitchen furnishings, fixtures and décor.  These range from handsome kitchen chest tansu to low dining tables of simple wood or fine lacquer, hibachi, furogama, kotatsu and all manner of utilitarian as well as decorative items.

The Imperial Palace during the Heian Age (794-1185) used four rooms for accomplishing kitchen-related tasks. These were the oni no ma (the tasting and checking for poison room), daibandokoro (for placing prepared food on a diner’s serving tray/table), asagarei no ma (breakfast room) and oidono (the actual cooking room).  Sometimes, all four rooms were joined together as one building, and usually separated from the Imperial Palace as a safeguard against fire and unpleasant odors affecting the Imperial family.

Later, during the Kamakura period (1185-1333), the four rooms of the kitchen were united inside the main building and under one roof.  This architectural composition is called “Shoinzukuri.”  In early designs, the kitchen was connected to the other rooms via a corridor to the main building. Later, it combined fire and water (the stove or kamado and irori, a well and a drain) into the kitchen space in the main building (omoya).

Kitchen Tansu - Mizuya Dansu

Until the Edo period, the term daidokoro referred to the pantry and servant dining area.  It began to be used to describe the entire kitchen area during this period.  The kitchen became an important room, especially because it was the one place in the house with running water.  Also, more burners were added to the stove/kamado, and it was raised to eliminate the need to squat while cooking.

A well-to-do kitchen would feature the kitchen tansu, a dramatic and practical chest offering a variety of compartments and drawers for storage.  Its entrance would be draped by a colorful noren, a Japanese fabric divider traditionally hung between rooms, on walls, in doorways or windows.  Serving as a heater was the kotatsu, a low, wooden table frame, covered by a futon or heavy blanket to catch the warmth of the coals beneath, and upon which sat a table top.

The hibachi or fire bowl, was also introduced at this time.   Besides the larger, wood-framed Kyoto and Toyko styles, many smaller hibachi are available on Jcollector.  These were traditionally used as personal handwarmers for residents and guests, but today make dramatic jardinières and display items in the Western home.

Japanese Hibachi

You can find many examples of kitchen furnishings and wares available at both Jcollector and Jtansu.  All have stood the test of time and today add a charming sense of Japanese style, combining beauty and utility, to environments of every kind worldwide.

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