This table was designed in 2012 when opening a showroom in Shanghai, China to demonstrate what China and Japan have in common at present and their relationship in the future through furniture. We reflected on the purpose of a Japanese person selling Japanese products in China and thought about the great cultural heritage Japan received from China.
The design incorporates the delicate Chinese atmosphere of the Ming Dynasty in a simple appearance by providing detailed beading, a style characteristic of the Ming Dynasty, on the tabletop, side surfaces, legs, and crosspieces. The table is named after the construction overseer of our Shanghai showroom. In honor of Mr. Zhang who seriously directed the construction work and devoted himself to complete our showroom, we named this table the Zhang table.
China has a long history of 4,000 years with a civilization that reformed according to the trends of time while abandoning its legacy of the past. There are large historic remains such as the Great Wall but much of the heritage including the technical skills to create arts and crafts has been lost in the flow of time. On the other hand, numerous objects dating back about 2,000 years according to the records that were culturally influenced by China still exist in Japan. Temples built about 1,500 years ago are still standing and other valuable historic heritages have remained in various areas throughout Japan because of the technology that was introduced from China. This is the heritage from the past that is now lost in China.
The technology brought from China still remains in Japan as a cultural heritage such as, for example, Horyuji Temple, a World Heritage site that is the world’s oldest wooden structure built about 1,400 years ago, Yakushiji Temple and Todaiji Temple built about 1,300 years ago. This technology was handed down as traditional craftwork for generations in Japan. The skill and technology for creating artifacts from China went through unique development in Japan and they can be seen today in artifacts throughout Japan.
Temples including Byodoin, history museums, and art museums in all areas of Japan still exhibit the cultural interchange and relationships that were passed down for generations between China and Japan. It is remarkable that Japan as a whole is like a historical museum of China that can offer a place where precious assets of the past technology and history of China can be recollected.
People in Japan will also be able to learn about the kind of relationship and cultural interchange that China had and how it contributed to forming Japanese culture and religion. Cultural sharing and interchange is a major element of today’s Japanese culture. For people in China, the structures, heritages, and lively technology in Japan would offer an occasion to observe the magnificence they once had in the past.