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U.S. gift to Japan’s prime minister came from Solebury


This was a “rush project.” The prime minister of Japan was coming to Washington and Washington needed an official gift to welcome him to town.

That project fell to George Nakashima Woodworkers of Solebury, which was tasked with creating a black walnut table to present to Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, who, with his wife, Yuko, attended a D.C. gala on April 10.

The first table sketch submitted by Nakashima was rejected, said Mira Nakashima, president and creative director at the Woodworkers.

A second sketch was then approved, but by then time was running short.

While Mira Nakashima designed the oval table, it fell to craftsman Brandon Spector to put it all together.

“This was a rush project and he put it together in about a day,” said Mira, who along with her husband, craftsman Jonathan Yarnall, attended the D.C. celebrity-studded gala.

The surface of the table top had to be finished and treated and then the three-legged oval creation was picked up April 5, by a car bearing a U.S. State Department license plate and whisked away, according to Woodworkers archivist David Long.

Normally such a table would cost from $4,000 to $5,000, said Mira Nakashima, but the U.S. had budgeted only $2,000 for the gift, so the balance was considered a gift from the furniture company.

Actually, this was not the Woodworkers first creation delivered to a U.S. president, said Mira Nakashima.

Then-President Barack Obama bought a $2,000 (price adjusted) table called “Peace Altar” for his White House office. It was later kept in his business office, she recalled.

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