A Japanese craftsman at work

Image: Igarashi Junya

Booking coming soon

Discover one major aspect of Japanese craftsmanship in this free exhibition which explores 1,300 years of master woodworking from the densely forested Hida region of Gifu Prefecture in central Japan.

The exhibition title refers to both the lineage of woodworking in Hida and a sumi-tsubo – a carpenters’ line – a fundamental Japanese carpentry tool used for marking straight lines on wood.

From the raw materials of the forests in Hida and the tools developed to work them, to the involvement of Hida craftsmanship in furniture design around the world today, visitors to the exhibition are immersed in an extraordinary craftworking legacy.   

First recorded in the eighth century CE, the woodworking skills of the Hida craftspeople were provided to the imperial capital in place of taxation, such was the importance placed upon their carpentry techniques. It was the skills of these Hida craftspeople that built many of the famous shrines and temples still seen in the ancient capitals of Nara and Kyoto.

Nowadays, the practice of woodworking still thrives in Hida – and in particular the city of Takayama – with established workshops and factories well known for their collaborations with domestic and international designers, the results of which can be seen in museum collections across the globe.

The Carpenters’ Line: Woodworking Heritage in Hida Takayama explores Hida’s legacy of skill and innovation through a series of installations focusing on woodworking techniques and materials, technology and innovation, products (including Hida-shunkei lacquerware and intricate kumiko latticework) and the people whose livelihoods depend on working with the natural materials of their local environment.