‘Chabako’ are traditional Japanese wooden cedar boxes dating from the late Edo period, originally used for the storage and transportation of Japanese tea.   Numerous innovative design features such as a tin-lined interior makes them moisture-proof, insect-proof, and oxidation-resistant – an ideal storage box for more than just tea. These quality sustainable boxes deserve a fresh look today. 

In the 1950’s the introduction of cardboard and aluminium bags as an alternative for tea transport and storage threatened  to make the Chabako box obsolete.. However, due to its high functionality, Chabako were repurposed and used to  store many other kinds of items such as clothing, photo-albums, and dried foods .

「Chabako SUI」 A Japanese Traditional Art Craft

Interior Chabako Club Ltd.’s tea boxes are made in Kawane Honmachi, Shizuoka prefecture by master Hiroshi Maeda and his successors. Their indisputable skills are evidenced by the excellence award they received in Shizuoka Prefecture in 2018.

The high-quality product is carefully and meticulously manufactured using cedar wood from Kawane Honcho. In general, the wood to be used (usually more than 30 years old) is exposed to the weather for at least two months, then weighed down and dried to prevent distortion and warping.

As with many other traditional handcrafting industries, the demand for Chabako continues to decline, and with it the number of artisans able to make them. As of January 2020, only 5 factories remain operational nationwide. However, we are tirelessly working to stimulate demand by creatively adapting and experimenting numerous ways to repurpose Chabako, thereby increasing their value to modern customers.

Chabako-SUI is our high-end Interior Chabako line:
Culturally rich, elegant, and functional. Simple, traditional hand-crafted Japanese tea boxes are artfully combined with the world’s finest fabrics and materials to create stunningly beautiful, highly practical interior furnishings

Since the mid-1950s, foreigners living in Japan have been enjoying a Japanese style craft covering Chabako with Japanese cloth and calling them “Nuno-hari Chabako” (cloth-covered tea boxes).     Our “Interior Chabako🄬” took inspiration from and expanded on this concept, with a focus on:

  • usability, design and technology;
  • fabric from Japan and all over the world; and
  • incorporating skills and techniques of master artisans from various other Japanese handcrafting fields.

Over twenty years later, we have arrived at Chabako-SUI.

Chabako-SUI “Japanese” is a rich infusion of different traditional Japanese crafts. It artfully combines Chabako with fabrics made with various traditional techniques, such as Kyoto-Yuzen, Kaga-Yuzen, and Nishijin-Ori.

The Chabako-SUI “Western” is a tasteful blend of Japanese and Western cultural crafts.   For example Chabako lavishly decorated with Western-style chintz “Toile de Jouy” and other luxury fabrics such as the famous French brand Charles Burger, whose fabric-weaving techniques can be traced back to the Louisian era.

The beauty of Chabako-SUI is not only in its upholstery. The art is not complete without attention to the small details – the ornaments, hinges, and lacquer tables. Nor is the art possible without the precision and focused mindfulness with which the skilled craftspeople create the original Chabako.

A high-quality Chabako is said to last for a hundred years, and can be passed down along generations by maintaining and re-upholstering the fabric layer.  Chabako come in a variety of sizes, from miniature ones that can decorate table-tops, to larger ones that can be used as benches. A versatile box, Chabako can be used to enrich many different aspects of life.

In 2017, Chabako with Toile de Jouy fabric was on display at the (French) Musée de la Toile de Jouy.

In 2019, Chabako covered with fabric woven in  Nishijin-ori technique in a spiral pattern was presented to Pope Francis during his visit to Japan. It was dedicated as a storage box for the Christian Cross carved from the “Miracle Pine” in Rikuzentakata, Iwate Prefecture, which was gifted to the Pope.