Japanese exhibition highlights Hida craftsmanship

The Carpenters’ Line exhibition hosted by Japan House, London, came to an end in January 2023. The event uncovered the art of master woodworking from the densely forested Hida region of Gifu Prefecture, central Japan.

The title refers to both the lineage of woodworking in Hida and a sumi-nawa, a fundamental Japanese carpentry tool used to create inked lines on wood.

This exhibition explored tools, techniques and products synonymous with Hida’s woodworking heritage. The event also arranged a series of events and workshops on Hida’s carpentry culture in collaboration with experts from Japan.

From the raw materials of the Hida forests and the tools developed to work them, to the involvement of Hida craftsmanship in global furniture design of today, visitors at the exhibition were immersed in extraordinary craft working legacy.

Hida heritage

The city of Takayama, in Gifu Prefecture, has maintained a vibrant woodworking tradition for over 1,300 years, developing in that time an international reputation for its highly skilled carpenters.

First recorded in the 8th century CE, the woodworking skills of these craftspeople were provided to the imperial capital in place of taxation, such was the importance placed upon the carpentry techniques originating in Hida.

It was the extraordinary skill of these Hida craftspeople that built many of the famous shrines and temples still seen in the ancient capitals of Nara and Kyoto today.

The practice of woodworking still thrives in Hida, with internationally renowned workshops well known for their collaborations with international designers, the results of which can be seen in museum collections across the globe.

The visitors at The Carpenters’ Line not only encountered a series of installations about Hida’s woodworking legacy, but also got to immerse themselves in the sights, sounds, and even smell of Hida’s forests.

Lush green mountain scenery printed on wall-to-ceiling curtains, a 24-hour sound cycle from the forest and the fragrant scent of cypress transported the visitor’s senses to Hida, providing the perfect backdrop to take in exhibits showcasing carpentry techniques, technology, materials, products, and people.


Japan House London offered guests a chance to delve deeper into Hida and its craftspeople through a series of panel discussions, events and workshops that gave insight into wood-crafting techniques, material and technology.

From ichii ittō-bori, or sculptures carved from Japanese yew and mageki (wood bending), a vital element of contemporary furniture making, to latticework and masterful joining techniques, The Carpenters’ Line highlighted the materials and techniques from this region of Japan, through video, displays and a rich variety of exhibits.

This exhibition also shed light on the skills and lives of those people whose livelihoods have depended, and still depend, on working with the natural materials of their local environment.

Japan House London is a cultural destination offering guests the opportunity to experience the best and latest from Japan. Presenting the very best of Japanese art, design, gastronomy, innovation and technology, it deepens the visitor’s appreciation of all that Japan has to offer. To know more, visit www.japanhouselondon.uk.



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