The Carpenters Line Woodworking Heritage in Hida Takayama2

The Carpenters’ Line: Woodworking Heritage in Hida Takayama

The Carpenters Line Woodworking Heritage in Hida Takayama2

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.

Introduction to The Carpenters' Line exhibition

Watch a trailer for The Carpenters' Line, with an introduction from Japan House London Programming Director Simon Wright

The Forests of Hida: Window Display

Guests to Japan House London can also see a window display on the ground floor of items which tell the story of the forests of Hida.

Approximately 66% of Japan is woodland, making it one of the most forested countries in the world. A wide variety of tree species grow in Japan due to the range of altitudes and climates found across the country’s mountainous islands, encompassing alpine and subtropical regions. The Hida region can boast even more forest coverage, with over 90% of the surrounding area made up of woodland.

The Carpenters' Line Cocktail

This cocktail is inspired by the dense forests of the region, which have provided Hida’s carpenters with the raw materials needed to produce their master works for over 1,000 years. Sake from Gifu Prefecture is combined with the woody smokiness of Miyagikyo single malt whisky, with Pimento Dram adding herbal notes. The cocktail is then infused with warming hinoki tea and a dash of lime, before being garnished with a Laphroaig whisky mist and hinoki tea leaves. Served warm.

Available in AKIRA Restaurant for the duration of the exhibition, 29 September 2022–29 January 2023.

Browse a selection of hand-crafted products from Hida, including chopping boards, folk toys and wooden sculptures, on our Online Shop.