Part 2: The Biggest Collection of Japanese Carpentry Tools in Japan – December 2020
In this video, we travel to Kobe, Japan where the Takenaka Carpentry Tool Museum is located. The museum hosts one of the largest collections of Japanese carpentry tools that have been acquired through the centuries. There are replica tools from the Jomon Era (5500 years ago) up until today. The interesting thing about the tools and the techniques used in carpentry is that they have not changed significantly. Of course modern tools like circular saws, electric planers and jointers, etc. are being used today, but they are not on display at the museum. In Japan, it is common practice to learn carpentry the traditional way, but due to rising costs and need for reasonable and timely construction, electric tools have been incorporated into daily work. However, this does not mean that traditional tools are obsolete, in fact traditional tools are used often in the finishing steps of a construction project. Keep in mind years ago there were many more carpenters and tradesman in the world so the number of people working on a single project was much higher than today. In Japan, the population of carpenters has been rapidly decreasing as many houses being purchased today are designed to be scrap and build where the homeowner will likely demolish the house after 30 to 50 years to make way for newer construction.
At the Takenaka Carpentry Tool Museum, we get the chance to look at the progression of tools from 5500 years ago up until today. The techniques may remain the same, but the tools and the materials used in the tools has gotten significantly better and more refined. There is a sense of immense pride in the museum for the Japanese craftsman as there are several displays showcasing metalworkers and carpenters from the past and the present. The skills it takes to make carpentry tools is extremely high and there for these tools do not come cheap. However, once you acquire a full set of Japanese chisels or a full array of Japanese planers this will last you a lifetime if properly taken care of. In many cases, these tools can be purchased from former carpenters at auction or even through direct deals.
What is great about this museum is the fact that you can touch a lot of the displays allowing you to get a better sense of the skills involved to build using traditional tools. The museum also has very well written English displays which helps to learn some of the names of the tools that are being used.
The Takenaka Carpentry Tool Museum is definitely worth the visit if you are interested in high quality Japanese tools.
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