ARCHITECTURAL DIGEST Features Jcollector’s Hagoita

Japanese Hagoita New Years Paddle

Thank you Architectural Digest for featuring one of Jcollector’s fabulous antique hagoita New Year’s paddles in your August, 2009, issue! Readers, you can view it on page 64 in the “Discoveries by Designers” section. As a result of AD’s interest, we have had a run on these wonderful items and are actively searching for others to replenish our inventory.

Traditional Japanese hagoita are wooden paddles used for a game called hanetsuki, which is similar to badminton. Each December, hagoita markets open in Japan selling these charming New Year’s gifts for girls. A market near Toyko’s Senso-ji temple in Asakusa is perhaps Japan’s oldest (founded 350 years ago during the Edo period) and most famous. It is typically held annually from December 17-19.

Japanese Hagoita New Year’s Paddle, Wisteria Maiden

Antique hagoita come in all sizes and are crafted with one side of handpainted wood (used to hit the shuttlecock) and another, even more decorative side, of finely rendered silk and other fabrics skillfully fashioned in high relief to represent well-known Kabuki theater figures. The older ones are highly valued and in great demand as wall hangings or dramatic decorative elements in any environment.

Check back often at Jcollector, as we are regularly updating our selection of antique hagoita!

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It’s Lightweight! (an essential, though frequently overlooked, quality in antique Japanese tansu)

This weekend Ruben and I were helping some friends move furniture. It seemed like such a simple task – moving a bedroom set from one room to the next. We move Japanese furniture all the time, so we volunteered happily, thinking the job would be quick and effortless. After all, the two of us often lift and carry large kitchen, clothing or merchant tansu from room to room in our warehouse and assist in the offloading of our containers when they arrive from Japan, loaded with beauties for our customers. How bad could it be?

Mizuya Kitchen Tansu

Well, it turns out, VERY bad. Western furniture is HEAVY! Among the four of us, the result was a total of one strained shoulder, a twisted knee, a woeful depletion of energy and sore backs overall. Two hours later, still in a sweat while sipping iced tea, I told our friends, “You must get some antique Japanese furniture!”

Besides its obvious beauty, there is nothing like a Japanese tansu for mobility and ease of use. First, all large antique tansu, including kaidan-dansu or step tansu, are modular. They come in separate pieces, two, three, sometimes even four easily manageable sections. This was originally established in case of fire. Early Japanese homes were often fire-prone, so the owners needed to be able get their belongings out quickly and easily. Second, antique Japanese tansu almost always have a percentage of paulownia (aka, kiri), a finely grained, warp-resistant and lightweight wood. Some chests are even 100% kiri. Others might have cedar, cypress, persimmon or keyaki (aka, zelcova) accents. All, are relatively light in comparison to most other furniture, another reason there is nothing quite so wonderful as antique Japanese tansu in the modern home!

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