Introduction to our Traditional Crafts(5)

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Traditional Crafts

Calligraphic brushes
History and Special Characteristics It is said that in year 610, a Koguryo monk gave rise to the manufacturing techniques of paper and ink. This is how the usage of “hitsuboku suzuri” (calligraphic brushes, writing ink, and ink stone) started. With the rapid increase in merchants and “terakoya” (small private schools) in the mid-Edo period, there was a growing demand for more brushes. At the same time, artisans refined their skills as well. Today, the most standard method is the “Nerimaze” method, in which different lengths of bristles are used at once.
Principal Sites of Manufacture Taito Ward, Toshima Ward, Nerima Ward, etc.
Production Area Associations Tokyo Bungu Kougyou Renmei
Address 1-3-14 Asakusabashi, Taito-ku, Tokyo 111-0053
Phone Number 03-3864-4391
“Muji-zome” (patternless dyeing)
History and Special Characteristics Muji-zome is the most basic form of dyeing. Before this method was established, plants were used to dye fabrics. Indigo plants and safflowers arrived with Buddhism, and dyeing techniques were established during the Nara and Heian periods (710-1185). During the Edo period (1600-1867), “Edozome” (fabrics dyed in the Edo area) became very popular among the general public.
Principal Sites of Manufacture Shinjuku Ward, Nakano Ward, etc.
Production Area Associations Tokyo-to senshoku-kougyoukumikai
Address 3-20-12 Nishi-Waseda, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo 169-0051
Phone Number 03-3208-1521
Koto, a Japanese harp
History and Special Characteristics Koto is a Japanese elongated string instrument, and it was introduced form China during the Nara period (710-794). It was used for “gagaku” (traditional Japanese court music and dances). Years later, Fusakichi Shigemotoreformed the instrument and changed its lengths, thickness, and picks to improve the volume and sound quality.
Principal Sites of Manufacture Bunkyo Ward, Suginami Ward, Shibuya Ward, etc.
Production Area Associations Tokyo Hougakki Shoukougyou Kyoudou Kumiai
Address Mukouyama Gakki Store4-1-17 Hirai, Edogawa-ku, Tokyo 132-0035
Phone Number 03-5836-5663
“Karakami” (paper-covered sliding doors)
History and Special Characteristics Karakami is a paper-covered sliding door, or screen. The history of karakami is said to have begun by duplicating Chinese karakami around year 1000. Shortly afterward, Edo became the main consuming region. The use of astringent-shrink paper (paper treated with persimmon juice) gave rise to other techniques and effects, including dye prints, brushed effects, and pebbled effects. Edo being the major consuming region and having all these techniques start out in the Edo area, certain types of karakami were called “Edo-karakami.”
Principal Sites of Manufacture Edogawa Ward, Nerima Ward, Bunkyo Ward, etc.
Production Area Associations Edo Karakami Cooperative Association
Address Tokyo Matsuya Showroom, 6-1-3 Higashi-ueno, Taito-ku, 110-0015
Phone Number 03-3842-3785
“Mokuhanga” (woodblock prints)
History and Special Characteristics Mokuhanga (woodblock prints) has a long history in Japan, and printed works with Western outfits are stored inside Sh?s?in; Sh?s?in is a wooden warehouse in the Nara prefecture. During the Edo period (1600-1867), the spread of mokuhanga gave rise to professions of woodblock paintings, engravings, and printings. In later years, Utamaro and Hiroshige became famous woodblock printers for using highly-defined techniques.
Principal Sites of Manufacture Taito Ward, Arakawa Ward, Bunkyo Ward, etc.
Production Area Associations Tokyo Traditional Wood-Block Print Craft Association
Address 2-4-19 Suido, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo 112-0005
Phone Number 03-3830-6780
Cloisonne enamels
History and Special Characteristics Japan started making cloisonne enamels from the Nara period (710-784). Donin Hirata, who served for the shogunate, or the Japanese feudal government, first used cloisonne enamels to decorate sword guards and horse gears. Until the beginning of the Meiji period (1868), many disciples raised by the Hirata family forbid to share this technique with anyone outside the clan. By the end of the 19th century, cloisonne enamels were used to make awarded medals. The techniques enabled us to manufacture badges, medals, and fashion accessories.
Principal Sites of Manufacture Taito Ward, Arakawa Ward, Kita Ward, etc.
Production Area Associations Tokyo Shippou Kougyou Kyoudou Kumiai
Address Sakamori Bijutsu Shippou Kougei Store 1-2-1 Moto-Asakusa, Taito-ku, Tokyo 111-0041
Phone Number 03-3844-8251
Hand-flocked brushes
History and Special Characteristics As Japan opened itself in the mid-19th century, there was a growing demand for more brushes. These brushes were supplied to Europeans and Americans who visited Japan, and were used to clean clothing, horses, etc. Later on, the shogunate (Japan’s at-the-time-government) adopted the Western-style military administration and divisions, which boosted the industry of hand-flock brushes. Compared to those that are machine-made, these brushes are densely filled and can be made from different types of bristles. 
Principal Sites of Manufacture Taito Ward, Sumida Ward, Arakawa Ward, etc.
Production Area Associations Tokyo Burashi Kogyo Kyodo Kumiai
Address Tokyo Burashi Kaikan2-2-14 Azumabashi, Sumida-ku, Tokyo 130-0001
Phone Number 03-3622-5304
Glass artwork
History and Special Characteristics Japan has enjoyed glass artwork for a long period of time. The oldest glass artworks found are dated between 300bc and 300ac. In the early 18th century, mirrors, glasses, Japanese hair sticks, and Japanese wind-bells were made in the Edo area. Today, the glass-making techniques are applied to manufacture eating utensils such as dishes and bottles, and laboratory glass. By bringing European technologies and having the craftworks modernized during the Meiji period (1868-1912), glass artwork has now become Tokyo’s local industry.
Principal Sites of Manufacture Sumida Ward, Koto Ward, Edogawa Ward, etc.
Production Area Associations Tobu Garasu Kougyoukai
http://www.tobu-glass.or.jp/menu00e.htm( External link )
Address 4-36-6 Ryogoku, Sumida-ku, Tokyo 130-0026
Phone Number 03-3631-4181
Edo tegaki chochin (Edo-style hand-painted paper lanterns)
History and Special Characteristics Known as kago chochin, the original form of Japanese paper lanterns appeared in the early 16th century during the Muromachi period. The use of paper lanterns became common among people during the Edo period. For Edo tegaki chochin, letters are painted in a calligraphic style called Edomoji, which is characterized by uniquely designed brushstrokes that create a balanced, eye-catching structure of each letter.
Principal Sites of Manufacture Taito Ward, Arakawa Ward, Sumida Ward, etc.
Production Area Associations Tokyo Paper Lantern Manufacturing Guild
Address c/o Kotsu Oshima-ya, 7-7-2 Minamisenju, Arakawa-ku, Tokyo 116-0003
Phone Number 03-3806-4789

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