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A Morning With Tok Kise Of TRUCK Furniture In Osaka

29 February, 2024


Tara Bennett + Tok Kise


Nick Tsindos

A Brief History Of Truck

There is no better place to start than at the very beginning. Truck was founded in 1997 by Tokuhiko Kise, a furniture maker by trade, and his partner, Hiromi Karatsu, an illustrator with a major in textile design. Kise and Karatsu wanted to make furniture that accentuates and emphasises the natural beauty of the wood, leather, and metal that it is made from. Refusing to make anything that is currently “on trend,"  they believe each piece should be timeless in both design and quality.

Kise in his office.
Truck Furniture, Osaka.

“We believe that the environment in which our furniture is displayed is just as important as the furniture itself”.

Not too long after founding Truck, they opened their first small showroom/workshop in the then sparse neighbourhood of Tamatsukuri, Osaka. After many years in this small space, they inevitably outgrew it and embarked on a long search to find the perfect spot that offered a balance between the city and the countryside.

Without any luck finding their dream spot, they settled on a large piece of land in the Asahi Ward and decided to bring the trees and greenery to them. They built and designed the warehouse and cafe from the ground up, and in December 2009, they opened. They planted many trees, about 30 of which were rescued trees that were replanted on site. Most of these trees are now taller than the building itself, creating their own leafy city oasis.

Tuck Furniture, Osaka.

Our Morning With Tok Kise of TRUCK Furniture

We first visited Truck Furniture in Osaka around 8 years ago. We took the train and walked through the suburbs to find their big warehouse space. We wandered through the showroom in absolute awe of every piece. While we sat at ‘Bird’ the cafe they opened next door, enjoying a coffee and a freshly made hot sugar doughnut, we reflected on just how amazing the experience was. We left feeling grateful we got to spend time there, knowing we would definitely return.

Now, all these years later, we got the opportunity to meet the founder, Tok Kise, and have a personal tour through the building, where we gained a little insight into his life and Truck Furniture.

With Kise at Bird.
Hot Doughnuts at the ready.

We arrived at Bird, albeit a little late because we missed the turn-off from the freeway and met Kise, who was waiting for us, bright-eyed and energetic. He insisted we eat a doughnut, fresh from the deep fryer; it was incredibly hot but absolutely delicious. It was just what we needed on a cold Osaka day.

Hot out of the fryer.
Doughnut machine in action.

While enjoying our coffee and doughnuts, Kise tells us of his trip to Noosa on Australia's Sunshine Coast, back when his now 17-year-old daughter was just 9 months old. He told us stories of how his daughter yelled when she saw the ocean for the first time in her life and how, while on this trip, Kise first saw the doughnut-making machine with a nifty mechanism that flips the dough. When he opened Bird, he found the very same machine and named it ‘Mark 2’ in honour of the one he discovered while travelling in Australia.

They’ve had this very doughnut machine since 2009 and even have a backup just in case ‘Mark 2’ doesn’t make it to see another doughy day of goodness. The backup, however, is still in the box because these things seem to outlive everything. We are glad to know that these doughnuts will be here for many years to come, as they are a must-have when visiting.

Exterior of Bird.
Coffee & Doughnut.

Kise speaks about how he opened Bird as a place customers could sit before or after exploring Truck, creating a calming place to enjoy a coffee and warm, sweet, doughy treat. However, these doughnuts now bring a line of people daily and have grown a following all of their own. Kise reflects how people used to stumble across Bird after visiting the showroom; now people just come for the food (and maybe a visit to the showroom once the sugar craving has been satisfied).

Vintage Cars.

Kise started our tour by walking us through a big, gated fence, where we spotted his collection of old Japanese minivans, sprayed in Truck’s signature khaki brown colour. We also passed a couple more cool vintage cars on the way. Once inside, we travelled up the stairs into what we can only describe as the most organised workshop we have ever seen. The staff were all decked out in denim workwear jackets embroidered with ‘TRUCK WORKS’ (yes, we asked to buy one; the answer was a polite no). Each bench had a different team member either sanding, drilling, or doing QC (quality control). It was like a Pinterest board for ‘workshop’ and was such an inspiring space. As we wandered, we saw Truck pieces past and present at every turn.

Truck Works Jackets.
Inside the workshop.

Up and down more stairs we reached Kise’s office, which was like something out of a 70’s mid-century movie – prototypes, samples, a record player, whiskey bar, and skate boards with a heavy influence from American heritage filled the space. Drawings and pictures of all his past animals adorned the wall behind his desk and he tells us of how his dogs have been a source of inspiration for names of furniture pieces, lacquer colours like John Borwn & Jack Ash and even coffee roasts at Bird, Jack brown and John Mild to name a few.

Inside Kise's office.

We then walked through the showroom, where Kise showed us the hand drawn branding on their mugs, shared the story behind some of the pieces he sells, and in exchange, we taught him some slang. As we meander, it is hard not to want to take everything home. He tells us about his new project, S.T.N.E. (same truck, new engine), which is a new line of furniture using all the original designs of furniture but pairing them back and using different finishes. We can’t wait to see these once they are released.

Inside the showroom.

Kise’s playful personality is so infectious, we don’t want to leave. Upon our departure, Kise says, “It was HEAPS good to meet you, ay!”… It seems like we may have also left a little mark on him too. And we aren’t speaking about the doughnut machine, ay.

Kise was all laughs and smiles.
The best workwear.

If you find yourself in Osaka, be sure to head out to this incredible warehouse and make sure to leave plenty of room for a doughnut (and maybe plan some extra allowance baggage too).


11:00AM - 7:00PM

6-8-48 Shinmori Asahi-ku Osaka 535-0022 JAPAN



11:00AM - 7:00PM

4-1-16 Midori Tsurumi-ku Osaka 538-0054 JAPAN



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