On the side streets of New York

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  • Father and son. Photo: Tom Arena, Manhattan Sideways

Miya Shoji — 228 West 18th Street

When Miya Shoji opened in 1951, it was not as a house of elegant carpentry. In fact, the company went through many phases — from selling flowers to Japanese knick-knacks — before Hisao Hanafusa eventually guided the business toward wood design. When Hisao arrived in the United States in the 1960s and began working at Miya Shoji, it was owned by another Japanese immigrant, but Hisao eventually made it his own, and devoted the business entirely to the art of Japanese carpentry. He now owns and operates the shop with his son, Zui. The Hanafusas use only traditional tools and methods to create classic Japanese pieces — shoji (screens used to divide rooms), chests of drawers, tables, and flat bed frames. The style is meant to look as if it came to be naturally, fit together with joints as opposed to hammers and nails. “It is made to last,” Zui explained. It is important to father and son that their stunning work, which has been featured in the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, be passed down from generation to generation.

To read more, visit Manhattan Sideways (sideways.nyc), created by Betsy Bober Polivy.

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