Here at Tokunaga Furniture, we believe that trees are elusive life-forms, beings of many expressions. Just as soon as you think you’ve understood them, they reveal a totally new side to themselves—one that had hitherto been completely hidden. The message to us humans seems to be that no amount of time or study will make them truly knowable, but our goal is to get as close as humanly possible in spite of this.
For this reason, we use no sandpaper at all when crafting our furniture. Sandpaper rubs away the natural pattern of the wood, leaving behind a smoothness that is artificial and which obscures the tree's innate characteristics. In contrast to this, the kanna cuts away successive layers of wood in a way that preserves the wood's natural appearance. The following photograph shows at a microscopic level just how drastically different the kanna-finish and more common sandpaper finish really are:
Our mission in the workplace is thus very simple: we first choose trees of only the highest quality, and then strive to reveal their respective, inherent qualities with as little interference as possible on our part. Towards this end, we believe their is no better approach than the pure kanna-finish technique.
The original Tokunaga Furniture Studio is located about an hour north of Kobe, just past the Rokkō mountain range. The area around the workshop is comprised mainly of rice paddies and small mountain villages—very rural to say the least! Directly behind the studio is a temple dedicated to the Buddha Bhaiṣajyaguru (薬師如来) while in front there is a paddy-field where the short-grain Yamada Nishiki rice is grown. This part of Japan is famous for its cultivation of this special breed of rice, popularly known as the “King of Sake-Brewing Rice”.
The current staff of Tokunaga Furniture includes Toshio Tokunaga as well as 4 younger woodworkers. While they spend their days crafting chairs and attaining an ever more perfect mastery of the kanna, the goal is for each of these young artisans to one day achieve their own independence in the craft.
Introducing the Tokunaga Furniture Team: