Okawa City in Fukuoka Prefecture has a 480-year-history as a major furniture production center. Originally a shipbuilding industry thrived here as Okawa City was a collection area for timber floating down from the timber producing area Hita upstream on the Chikugo River. It is said that the origin of the Okawa furniture tradition starts with Enokizu Sashimono※１founded by Kumenosuke Enokizu, utilizing the skills of the shipwrights. During the Edo Period, furniture manufacturing greatly prospered. In the Showa 30’s period (1955-1964), industrial designer Mr. Ryo Kawauchi designed a no handle chest that impressively won the highest award at the West Japan Products Exhibition held in Osaka. With this news, “Okawa, Town of Furniture” was acknowledged nationwide. Okawa expanded as a furniture production center that produced various types of the highest quality, top class wooden furniture in Japan. This time in Okawa City we visit the “Nishida Furniture Workshop” where they continue to make creative furniture that’s very particular about the “wood” and the “handcraft” .
Fukuoka Prefecture, Nishida Furniture Workshop ｜ 2019.03.06
Visiting the Nishida Furniture Workshop in Okawa City, Fukuoka Prefecture where they continue to make creative furniture.
This time, we visit the “Nishida Furniture Workshop” in Okawa City, Fukuoka Prefecture. Although a representative of the workshop, Mr. Masayoshi Nishida is actually from Saga Prefecture but he became a trainee at the furniture workshop in Okawa City after graduating from junior high school. "My relatives encouraged me to learn the furniture handcraft in Okawa City. That was the trigger." Mr. Nishida said. His father was a carpenter. As there were various carpentry tools at home, he used them to create sculptures of Takamori Saigo and Kiyomasa Kato as a hobby. Seeing the quality of his work, his uncles thought Mr. Nishida would be a good craftsman and encouraged him in that direction. Mr. Nishida showed us his work from those days and the quality was indeed very high, beyond what one would expect from a junior high school student. This prompted a question as sculpture and furniture making are completely different. Sculpture is an art, but furniture is a daily use item. We asked if he had encountered any challenges. "I grew up in a single mother family because my father died when I was 10. After my father had passed, my mother had remarriage offers but she refused them all as she said 'I'm looking forward to seeing my children grow up'. I was the eldest of four brothers and had a strong desire to help my mother. At that time in Okawa it was understood that, ’as long as you are the trainee of a furniture craftsman, you’ll be able to eat and survive’. So I chose the way of the furniture craftsman without hesitation. Mr. Nishida said.