Flight of Fright - Japanese small chest - Kodansu

I thought I would move my other Japanese style Kodansu's across.  For throes who haven't seen the others,  a kodansu - iis a small table cabinet of the 18th/19th century that were originally used to store items related to the Kōdō ceremony - the incense ceremony.

Kōdō is the art of appreciating Japanese incense, it is counted as one of the three classical Japanese arts of refinement, along with kadō -flower arrangement, and chadō - the tea ceremony.

The Kodansu were small, highly valued, and highly decorated with the finest lacquer techniques. This one is less than an 100mm/4inch square..


It is made of veneered plywood with solid maple drawers. The veneers are burl walnut and birds-eye maple. The decoration includes a gold sprinkled interior to the chest, the drawers and door, and shell inlays on the exterior.

The drawers have a sprinkled burl walnut inlay on the front to match the exterior of the chest. The drawer pulls are black zirconia stud earrings.

The shell stringing on the outer sides frames some Mother of Pearl shell inlays. A crouching tiger appears on a gold and silver sprinkled landscape on the top.

The sides have shell feather inlays,  the back  has gold sprinkled feathers.

The front door has two makie lacquer cranes in flight.  This is where its where its title comes from - the tiger has frightened the cranes who are flying off  Flight of fright!  The hinges and catch are from AliExpress.

The shell inlays come from a luthier supplier in Vietnam, check them out here. The range is amazing and while they may appear expensive, I think they are amazing value compared to buying your own shell and the time taken to cut the pieces out yourself!

These makie cranes are real gold makie stickers purchased on my last trip to Japan, which are usually used for personalising mobile phones!! I have just ordered a load of others for another two kodansu. You can check them out here.  They are highly detailed and relatively easy to apply.

This following picture shows the makie stickers in their 'raw' state, before they were applied to the door. In the background is the gold and silver dust in the petri dishes.  The tube in the middle of the picture with the green end,  is a sprinkling 'pipe'. 

As with many of my other Japanese boxes it is presented in traditional  Japanese Tsutsumi - gift-wrapped style, with a Tomobako case, (not shown) and a Furoshiki black fabric cover, embossed with gold feathers.

Thanks for looking.  Hope you enjoyed it.



Beautiful craftsmanship, and very detailed. At a loss for words.

Main Street to the Mountains

wow amazing craftsmanship !

working with my hands is a joy,it gives me a sense of fulfillment,somthing so many seek and so few find.-SAM MALOOF.

Wonderful, great, outstanding, on and on.


Beautifully done. 

Ryan/// ~sigh~ I blew up another bowl. Moke told me "I made the inside bigger than the outside".


If your first cut is too short... Take the second cut from the longer end... LBD

A very enjoyable project posting. Excellent work as always!
Very fine work Martin. Where did you get the hinges and latch?

James McIntyre

That hardware is awesome (along with the box of course!).

Always a treat to see what no-limits woodwork can produce!  👍
All your work is gorgeous, no exceptions!

Steven- Random Orbital Nailer

I am always amazed at the level of detail in your work. That box is so small to have that much going on, beautiful work and always an interesting description.

.................. John D....................