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Wonderful Wood Works using Paulownia Crafts

Paulownia drawers are well known for being a gift presented to newly weds.
Paulownia wood has excellent properties, making it useful in applications such as insect / mold repellent, humidity control and thermal insulation. Due to Japan's climate being hot and humid, such drawers have been essential for keeping clothes in excellent condition.
We are looking forward to receiving product plans for ideas which make the most of wood works Kirisyou Nezu's wood working techniques!

88 design
Nov 04,2019 Deadline
  • 募集開始 Sep 02,2019
  • 募集終了 Nov 04,2019
  • 結果発表 Feb 13,2020

Gunma Prefecture, Tone-gun, Minakami-cho, Tsukino district. Founded in 1917, Kirisyou Nezu has been in operation for three generations. The company has continued to work, spanning generations and it is the last remaining specialist paulownia woodworks in Gunma.

Skills which have been passed down from generation to generation have gained the company a reputation as a repair shop haven for all things paulownia. Many people have confidence in thinking "Nezu will be able to do this!", and counting on their skills.

At Kirisyou Nezu, the craftmen do not hesitate to devote time and effort into the repairing paulownia drawers. They also carry out wood fabrication on the side, and are repared to overcome any challenge to realise the potential held by paulownia.

Up until now, they have made various products such as chopping boards, speakers and brief cases.


This time, we would like you to come up with a wide range of product plans which make the most of the unique properties of [Paulownia] and the woodworking skills of Kirisyou Nezu!

<Functional Aspects> 

  1. Lightweight: It exhibits the lowest density of all Japan-grown timber.
  2. Thermal Insulation: It has excellent thermal insulation properties and is commonly used for wooden flooring.
  3. Humidity Regulation: It has excellent humidity resistance and is thus used in items such as boxes for insense.
  4. Acoustic Properties: There is a lot of space between the wood fibres, making the wood highly porous and giving it excellent acoustic properties. Paulownia has been used from long ago to make instruments such as the biwa and koto.
  5. Insect Repellent / Anti-Mould Properties: The paulonin, sesamin and tannin contained within the wood gives it insect repellent, antibacterial and preservative properties.

<Natural Properties> 

  1. Due to it being soft, it scratches easily
  2. Due to it being lightweight, it is not particularly strong
  3. It is hard to remove stains caused by oils and other substances

■ Methods of Paulownia Woodworking [Jidaiyaki Finish (Burn & Stain Finish)]

Paulownia oxidises as it ages, causing it to discolour and turn brown.

This discolouration occurs due to paulownia being a natural material, and is proof that the furniture has been used over a long period of time. However, it can give of an old, weathered impression.

Kirisyou Nezu has a technique up it's sleeve known as [Jidaiyaki Finish] which is capable of semi-permanently preventing oxidisation of the wood surface.

The secret is to rub wax into the wood's surface when it is being finished. Wax is rubbed into the wood's surface by gently and steadily, concentrating on an area about the size of an human thumb. Though this is a fairly standard technique in the woodworking industry, the shine and gloss of the surface finish is dependant on the skills of the craftsman.

<Processing Method of the [Jidaiyaki Finish]>

  1. The wood's surface is charred using a blow torch, carbonizing it. (Due to paulownia having low thermal conductivity it is difficult to heat, it is common for house fires to occur but for paulownia drawers to remain intact) 
  2. A brass wire brush is used to remove the char created by the blowtorch. 
  3. Wood filler powder is rubbed into the surface of the wood. 
  4. Special wax for paulownia is rubbed into the surface of the wood, finish it off.

<Properties of [Jidaiyaki Finish]> 

  1. The surface of the wood is resistant to scratches due to the carbonizing process.
  2. Improved insect repllent properties and ani-bacterial properties.
  3. Improved water resistance (for everyday use)
  4. Prevents discolouration due to aging, and is said to keep its colour intact for over 100 years.

■ Products Created by Kirisyou Nezu

■ Craftmen's Comments

At our company, we only use wood from paulownia trees that we have carefully grown in Niigata. In order to keep the wood from discolouring or deforming with age, it is common for us to weather the wood for over 10 years.

It is not possible to completely remove the impurities in the wood by industrial means. It it common for companies abroad to bleach their wood to clean the outer faces in a timely manner. However after several decades of use, it is evident that such shortcuts yield wood which discolours and warps over time.

Just like the paulownia drawers which are gifted to newly weds which last for decades, we wish for the products designed in this competition to last a life time, using the very best of our materials and woodworking techniques. We are very much looking forward to receiving lots of your product plans!

■ Thoughts on Submitting Product Plans

I am eagerly awaiting your product planning submissions (product concepts + designs) which make the most of our [Glass Forming Techniques]!

We are also happy to accept either product designs or concepts alone.

<Product Concepts> 

  • For whom?
  • To meet what needs?
  • What kind of value does it hold?

<Product Design>

  • Product size and features
    * Approximate size: something that can be held in your hands
  • Naming, packaging
  • Give details on what differentiates your concept from existing products etc


Evaluation Criteria from Executive Board 

  • The concept must clearly be a novel, fresh product
  • It must make the most of the craftsmen's unique skills and techniques
  • It ought to enrich the lives of the people who use it
  • It should be appropriate for dispatching to the world
  • It must follow the brand statement issued by Tokyu Hands
    * Brand statement can be viewed here

Tokyu Hands Product Categories

We would like to ask for product plans to fit into one of the following categories.

  • Interior: furniture, lighting, storage etc
  • Housewear: kitchen, dishes, bathroom and toiletries, cleaning supplies etc.
  • Hobbycraft: handicrafts, crafts, models, gardening supplies etc
  • Outdoors: camping equipment, sports equipment, weather equipment, vehicles etc
  • Bags & Travel: bags, suitcases, travel goods etc
  • Health & Beauty: health products, costmetic goods etc
  • Variety: gaming, party goods, mobile goods etc
  • Stationery: stationery, albums, office supplies, design equpment etc
  • Tools & Materials: tools, disaster prevention goods etc

◼︎ The Process of Commercialisation

The product concept / design submission deadline is [November 4th 2019].

Evaluation results are expected to be announced between mid December and mid January.

After prototype production, we will sell the product at Tokyu Hands shops and online shopping website, targeting all customers including inbound visitors.

If you have any questions, please post them in the comments section. We are very much looking forward to your participation!


Tokyu Hands and TRINUS have collaborated in product development and sales to deliver this open product development competition. The following prizes will be presented to creators who's product plans are chosen for adoption.


  • Prize money of up to ¥200,000 upon adoption of your product proposal
  • The opportunity to participate in prototype development (optional)
  • Sales royalty of 3% if your product succesfully makes it to market


  • There is a possibility that several products may be adopted.
  • If the product concepts and designs are adopted in their entirety, a maximum of ¥200,000 prize money and a maximum sales royalty value of 3% will be awarded. However, if a part of your concept is adopted, the prize money and royalty will be proportional to the contribution of the idea in the final product.
  • The sales royalty can be awarded for a period of up to five years
  • The sales royalty is calculated based on the wholesale price of the product. As the amount of royalty money awarded is dependent on the sales of the product, we cannot promise any specific value.
  • We cannot promise that the product will be commercialised and make it to market, even if it is adopted in this competition.


How to apply 

  • You must submit more than one image. Please provide a title and description for your product plan.
  • Please submit the images in JPG, PNG, or GIF file fomat.
  • You have freedom on how you wish to present your submission. Examples include product plan reports, idea plans, idea sketches, CG renders, drawings, photos of prototypes etc.
  • Each image submitted must be no more than 16MB in size.
  • Images will be resized to [720x480px] when published.
  • A maximum of 6 files may be submitted


Marking Criteria 

  • The product concept must demonstrate high demand on the [Want it!] page, receiving support from many users.
  • The product concept must receive high levels of praise from the executive office (including buyers at Tokyu Hands)
  • The product concept must follow the application guidelines and be feasible to manufacture
  • The product concept must not be too complicated such that it can be manufactured and sold at a reasonable price.

※Please read the terms and conditions for further detail


Please Login to leave a comment.

  • kurumi
    スパムとして報告する kurumi 基本的には、箱物になるデザインと考えてますが、ふたに模様を描くとき、レイザーなどのイメージで焼き付けるなどして提案もありなのでしょうか?
    スパムとして報告する TRINUS ご回答が遅くなり大変申し訳ありません。
  • 大湊 陽輔
    大湊 陽輔
    スパムとして報告する 大湊 陽輔 私は新潟で木工の工場を営んでいます。私の街は桐箪笥が有名でしたが、生活様式の変化で廃れてしまいました。桐という難しい素材の特性を活かした箪笥の加工技術を利用して「ワインや日本酒を持ち運ぶトランク」を作ってドイツで発表しました。しかし弊社は作る事は得意では有りません。同じモノをそちらで造ったら素晴らしいモノが出来ると思います。
    スパムとして報告する 東急ハンズwatote担当 ご提案ありがとうございます。

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