It was not until the latter part of the Edo period (1600-1868) that Owari cloisonne got its start. The area centered on present-day Nagoya was the domain of the Owari clan. The first pieces were made here and the skills and techniques of this craft gradually became established. The oldest piece of authenticated Owari cloisonne is a sake cup made in 1833.
The roots of Suruga hina dolls can be traced back to simple clay dolls known as neri-tenjin. Tenjin is another name for Sugawara Michizane, a Heian period (794-1185) scholar, who was respected as a god of learning. But the craft itself started when a local man called Aono Kasaku gathered around him people skilled in making things in clay and began making dolls. Then tenjin, which were dressed, were made and examples dating back to 1853 still exist today. By the end of the Edo period in 1868, more elaborately dressed dolls known as ishogi-tenjin were being produced.
Kyoto Black Dyeing
Although the dyeing of cloth black has a very long history dating back to the 10th century, it seems that it was not until the 17th century that it became established as a recognized craft to include family crests. In the middle of the Edo period (1600-1868), binrouji-zome, using Indigo and other dyes to pre-dye the cloth, dominated the craft which became a great favorite with the warrior classes. Then at the beginning of the Meiji period (1868-1912), its application spread widely due to the fact that haori, the short black over kimono emblazoned with family crests on the back, came into more general use on formal occasions. Gradually, with the introduction of dyeing techniques learned from the British and research done on dyestuffs from France and Germany, the rather laborious binrouji-zome technique was dropped and the present-day vat dyeing techniques as well as two others, sandokuro and kuro-senryo, became firmly established.
Fostered by the well-known entrepreneurial spirit of Omi tradesmen, the hot local climate and a plentiful supply of water from the Aichi River, production of woven ramie cloth developed in this area from the Kamakura period (1185-1333). The craft flourished during the Edo period (1600-1868) with encouragement from the Hikone clan, which ruled the area around Hikone on the southern shores of Lake Biwa, and it became a well established local industry as a result. From that time on, great improvements were made in dyeing techniques giving rise to the superb ikat patterns characteristic of Omi ramie.
Toyohashi is situated at the center of the area which was once ruled by the Yoshida clan. Toward the end of the 18th century, the leader of the clan brought in Suzuki Jinzaemon from Kyoto, and he began making brushes for the clan. Gradually lower ranking samurai started this work and this marked the true beginnings of the craft in Toyohashi. Toward the end of the 19th century, Haga Jirokichi promoted the making of a coreless brush called a suihitsu and the same brushes are still being made today. Jirokichi was also instrumental in giving the craft a firm base in the area, and established a scheme for the training of apprentices.
Tsugaru Lacquer Ware
The making of this ware dates back to the beginning of the 17th century, when the fourth generation of leaders of the Tsugaru clan engaged craftsmen skilled in the making of lacquer ware. A production center became established toward the end of the 19th century and the craft developed from the traditional skills which had been acquired over the preceding period of approximately 300 years. The continual process of refinement of techniques and the original ideas developed by the many craftsmen and women since then, are the sum total of the craft today.
It seems that the link between Kure and writing brushes dates back to when some brushes were acquired from a region of what is now Hyogo Prefecture by one Kikutani Sanzo at the beginning of the 19th century. The brushes were brought for use at the temples in the area and, as a result of this business, the advantages of actually making brushes during the slack time of the agricultural calendar were explained to the local farmers. It was the brushes made by Ueno Yaekichi in the middle of the 19th century that marked the real beginnings of the production of what came to be known as the Kawajiri writing brush. Subsequently others took up the work and gradually these brushes became known throughout the country.
At the beginning of the Kamakura period (1185-1333), carpenters and cabinet makers were invited from Kyoto and Kamakura to build temples and shrines in the area, and Miyajima woodwork as it is today, is a natural extension of the techniques that were used. The development of this craft was fostered by the abundant supplies of timber found in the forests along the prefectural border, and supplied from the stocks of wood held in the area known as Hatsukaichi.
Wakasa Agate Work
Wakasa now stands in present-day Fukui Prefecture. One of the old villages of Wakasa was called Onyu and it was this area that was served by the main shrine of the province. Back in the Nara period (710-794), a sea-faring people known as the Wanizoku, who made jade the object of their faith, came to the area and built what was called the Wani-kaido, a road in front of the shrine. Here they started making jade objects and Wakasa agate work is said to have begun at this time. In the middle of the Edo period (1600-1868), a technique to enhance the color of agate by heating it was perfected and by the 19th century, a range of cutting and shaping techniques were added.
Wakasa Lacquer Ware
The making of Wakasa lacquer ware began at the beginning of the Edo period (1600-1868), when lacquerers of the Obama clan near Wakasa Bay started decorating their work with designs depicting elements of the ocean floor, having got the idea from techniques used in Chinese lacquer ware. A technique called Kikujin-nuri was the result of repeated improvements which were made. Then apprentices of the craftsmen who had originally developed this technique came up with a variant they called Isokusa-nuri. In the middle of the 17th century, a method, which is still used to this day, was perfected for applying decoration using eggshell and gold or silver leaf. The feudal lord at the time called it Wakasa lacquer ware and because he encouraged lower ranking warriors of the Obama clan to take up the craft as an occupation, various refined and beautiful designs were devised.
Although this craft dates back to the Heian period (794-1185), specialist cabinet makers did not appear until during the Muromachi period (1392-1573), when this form of joinery developed in step with the ceremonial drinking of tea. Beside a range of the finest traditional household furniture made in solid wood, many pieces of turnery, bentwood work and items made from boards are also fashioned from such woods as paulownia (Paulownia tomentosa), Japanese cedar (Cryptomeria japonica), mulberry (Morus) and zelkova (Zelkova serrata).
Pieces representing the beginnings of Tokoname ware were made at the end of the Heian period (794-1185) and it is now counted among Japan's six old kilns. During the Heian period, Kyozuka urns were made in which to put Buddhist sutras before burial in the ground as a way of asking favors of the Buddha. During the Muromachi period (1392-1573), the pottery produced mainly tea bowls and other tea ceremony items as well as ikebana flower vases. Jars appeared in the middle of the Edo period (1600-1868) and normal household tableware started to be produced at the end of the Edo period alongside the prized tea ceremony pieces. Sanitary items such as drain-pipes, wash-hand basin and toilets, tiles and plant pots were added to the list of products in the Meiji period (1868-1912). Undoubtedly the vast range of products available today is the result of being a production center with plentiful supplies of good quality clay to hand, and because of the area's ability to change its line of main products in step with demand down through history.