An ancient art

Master Japanese carpenter works with architecture students to create traditional bench for Butterfly Garden; installation Oct. 11

Master carpenter Tamotsu Edo of Awajishima, Japan, will work with students from the Washington University School of Architecture to construct and install a traditional Japanese teahouse waiting bench, or koshikake machiai, in the university’s Elizabeth Danforth Butterfly Garden during the week of Oct. 6-11.

A public dedication ceremony and reception will be held from 4 to 6 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 11. The Butterfly Garden is located on the south side of Forsyth Boulevard, across from the university’s Mallinckrodt Student Center, 6445 Forsyth Blvd. Edo’s visit is sponsored by the Visiting East Asian Professionals Program in Arts & Sciences and the School of Architecture.

The koshikake machiai project is just one of several events coinciding with Edo’s time on campus. An exhibition of traditional Japanese carpentry tools and pattern books — drawn from Edo’s personal collection — will open in the Washington University Gallery of Art’s Teaching Gallery Thursday, Oct. 2, with a reception from 5 to 6:30 p.m. The exhibition remains on view through Oct. 9.

In addition, Edo will lead a public demonstration of Japanese woodworking techniques from 5 to 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 9, on the south terrace of the School of Architecture’s Givens Hall. The demonstration will focus on the use of traditional tools in crafting the hundreds of elaborate joints employed by Japanese carpenters to fix, splice and connect wood without resorting to nails or glue. Examples of completed joints will be on hand.

All three events are free and open to the public. The Gallery of Art is located in Steinberg Hall, near the intersection of Skinker and Forsyth boulevards and immediately adjacent to Givens. Gallery hours are 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday; 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Fridays; and noon to 4:30 p.m. weekends. (The Gallery of Art is closed Mondays.) For more information, call (314) 935-8772 or visit

The Butterfly Garden was established in 1996 by the Washington University Women’s Club in honor of Elizabeth “Ibby” Danforth, wife of former Chancellor William H. Danforth. The garden was planned and planted and is maintained by The Butterfly Garden Committee with the help of Washington University’s Department of Facilities Planning and Management and the Missouri Botanical Garden. All plant materials introduced into the garden provide nectar or food for butterflies and their larvae.