Echizen Yaki ranks among Japan's six old kilns and therefore has a history dating back many centuries. First fired toward the end of the Heian period (794-1185), upward of 200 old kilns sites have been discovered in the area to date. It was in these massive old kilns that all manner of everyday articles such as pots, jars, mortars, flasks, and jars in which to keep a black tooth dye fashionable at the time were fired.
Echizen Lacquer Ware
It is thought that this particular lacquer ware dates back to the 6th century. A lacquerer was ordered to recoat the kanmuri or formal headpiece of the Emperor of the times. The lacquerer also presented a black lacquered bowl to the Emperor who recognized the quality of his work and it is thought that it was this encouragement which led to the establishment of Echizen Shikki as an individual ware.
Wakasa Lacquer Ware
The making of Wakasa Nuri 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.
Production began in the late Edo period. Zelkova, pawlonia, and other wood is processed using a unique joinery method, then covered in lacquer, and ornamented with metal fittings to create stately products.
Echizen Forged Blades
When a swordsmith from Kyoto came to this area in search of raw materials at the beginning of the Muromachi period (1392-1573), it seems they made some sickles of the local farmers and this marked the beginning of forging in the area. During the Edo period (1600-1868) with patronage from the Fukui clan, blades made in Echizen were sold all over the country.
Legend has it that some 1,500 years ago, a beautiful princess came to the village of Okatagawa and taught the people there how to make paper. In the Nara period (710-794) the paper was highly respected for the copying of Buddhist sutras. Then, when paper began to be used in large quantities by the warrior class, some very high quality papers such as Echizen Hosho were produced in large amounts and using improved techniques.
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 Meno Zaiku is said to have begun at this time.