Kyoto’s Kinkakuji sits on the edge of an ornamental pond, its gold leaf catching the light and turning it to an aureate glow, the whole gleaming apparition reflected in the pond. And yet when I visited Kinkakuji, I was almost as taken with a roofing display as I was with the newly gold-leafed temple, for the roof itself is a marvel as the display showed. 40 layers of wooden shingles were applied to roof, each held in place by bamboo nails.
I remembered those nails when I decided to build a tool chest adapting the techniques used to build tansu. When we think of tansu, it is the kaidandansu, or step chest, that often comes to mind. But tansu includes an array of case pieces designed for different duties, from storing books, to clothing, to tea utensils. My own modest effort in the style would owe more to these utilitarian chests than to kaidandansu.