Living with Kumiko  Tanihata

Kumiko-Ramma Lattice Slide Door Tanihata Co,Ltd.

Living with Kumiko
Kumiko motif
This is a true story about the head of a woodworking establishment, his family and craftsmen.
Located in Toyama Prefecture,
the workshop produces traditional artifacts.
Story Designs Craftsmen Tradition Wood Toyama
Information Technology Creating products


When carved motifs are incorporated into Japanese style sliding paper doors or carved wooden panels, meticulous attention is paid to the direction in which the motifs face. For example, motifs of auspicious birds such as the crane, are placed to show them facing the entranceway, in order to bring good fortune to the family. As Japanese designs embody profound meaning, craftsmen are dedicated to ensuring the well-being and happiness of their customers through correct use of the design elements.

Chapter 4, The challenges of manufacturing Kumiko Page 107, Japanese traditional design or world-wide brand
組子 障子 彫刻
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manufacturing Kumiko


“As a craftsman, I have spent my life wondering if I followed the right occupation: Why am I doing this work? Does this work mean much to me?” Even though I took up woodwork because I liked it, I cannot help feeling that I could have done something else. But we should never be discouraged during times of uncertainty. Long years of training develop craftsmanship and a sense of purpose as a human being.”

Chapter 2, Our decision to merge Japanese and Western styles. Page 35, Long years of training.
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It may seem that traditional craftsmanship merely follows certain techniques, tradition and knowhow. But without the spark of creativity, traditional crafts lose their special character.

Chapter 7, Our craftsmanship goes beyond borders. Page 206, Sharing our spirit of craftsmanship with the world.
Traditional Craft


As exemplified by the Horyuji temple, the oldest example of wooden architecture in the country, traditional woodwork is an intrinsic part of Japanese culture.

Chapter 7, Our craftsmanship goes beyond borders.
Page 196, People's lives enriched through wood.
Kumiko Tanihata
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Kumiko Tanihata Toyama Japan


My father's hospital room looked out on the Tateyama mountain range. Especially beautiful in spring when accumulated winter snow accentuates the ridge lines, the mountain is a truly amazing sight. Every day when visiting my father, I would gaze in awe at the mountain. Whatever the weather, a sunny, rainy or cloudy day, the mountain stood steadfast, constant, unchanging, in contrast to the passing of countless human lives. And I wondered, “How many human lives has the mountain witnessed from its lofty height?”

Chapter 4, The challenges of manufacturing Kumiko.
Page 122, Tateyama mountain range seen from the hospital.
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Information Technology

Information technology is not cold and lifeless – rather it offers the possibility to inform and connect people, and the reward of working and living with IT is that it brings satisfaction.

Chapter 6, What a small company truly values in the digital era.
Page 183, Associations and networking.
Kumiko Factory Visits
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Creating products Tanihata Kumiko

Creating products

As a result of having discontinued production of conventional fittings, sales declined sharply for a brief period, hitting an all-time low in the history of Tanihata. However, we earned sufficient to repay loans through increasing orders for Kumiko ramma. And most importantly, the reduced workload improved staff satisfaction: “We have enjoyed working this summer.” And so I realised that my decision to specialise in Kumiko had been right.

Chapter 5, Reviving traditional Japanese style. Page 161, Our decision to go forward
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Nobuo Tanihata
Nobuo Tanihata
Biography of Nobuo Tanihata
I was born in 1966 in Toyama Prefecture. Starting in 1992, I trained in my father's latticework transom shop for 5 years.
In the second half of the 1990s, orders for Japanese style latticework products for homes began to fall. In order to increase sales channels for our products, we resorted to making sales calls to large retail stores without appointments.
From 2000 we began selling products over the internet, and in 2012 we had an exhibit at the ICFF in New York. This gave us a handhold in overseas sales, and currently we are garnering much attention, with more than 400 latticework product deliveries to overseas customers for use in such places as the Apple head office's villa, Twitter Japan's executive suite, and the Ritz-Carlton group's hotels.
In the spring of 2015, Tanihata latticework sliding doors were described in the famous US financial publication The Wall Street Journal as having “therapeutic Japanese design for foreigners”. In March 2017 we received the Gold Award, the highest accolade of the globally influential iF DESIGN AWARD.

My book, titled "Sharing Our Spirit of Craftsmanship with the World",was published on 2nd April 2012 in cooperation with the IT magazine, COMPASS, for which I have been writing a column since last year.

The book tells the story of a small company, TANIHATA, manufacturing Kumiko Ramma and sliding doors, working with my father, my family and our craftsmen.

There have been many challenges since we started business in 1959, including almost closing the business down due to our declining performance during the first ten years.

However, the business was able to recover thanks to the support we received.

The book is more about our challenges than successes.

I focused on writing about how we managed to re-establish the business, after learning from our mistakes.

The chapter headings include Information Technology, Promoting Online Shopping, Creating Products, Traditional Industry, Craftsmen, Wooden Housing.

We would appreciate your feedback after reading the book. If there are sections in the book that are relevant to your work and workplace, you may have questions regarding continuing your current work, about your future and the future of your craftsmanship in Japan.

Sharing our
Spirit of
with the World
Released on Apr 2012
Nobuo Tanihata
Tanihata Co,Ltd.
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