The history of Mino Yaki goes back some 1,300 years. The techniques of making a Sueki ware were introduced from Korea and then in the 10th century, an ash glaze called shirashi started to be used. This simply amounted to the glazing of the Sue ware with the glaze. It was about this time that the number of kilns increased and a production center for this ware became established.
Hida Shunkei Lacquer Ware
The origins of this distinctive lacquer ware were the result of a chance discovery. At the beginning of the 17th century, a head carpenter who worked on the building of temples and shrines in the castle town of Takayama, was surprised to find that when he literally peeled a piece of sawara cypress apart, it produced an interesting textural effect. He made it up into a tray and lightly lacquered the surfaces.
Ichii Itto Bori developed from small beginnings, when a woodcarver named Matsuda Sukenaga used a yew felled from the Hida mountains to make some rather special netsuke that were left uncolored and simply took full advantage of the beautiful grain of this wood. Since then, this craft has always been representative of the woodcarving done in the Hida region.
It is thought that Mino Washi dates back to the Nara period (710-794), because records at the Shoso-in Repository show that it was used for a census during the 8th century. By the Muromachi period (1392-1573) the Rokusaiichi paper market was being held. This was set up by the locally influential Toki Nariyori and Mino Washi were shipped to Kyoto, Osaka and Ise, making it one of the best known papers of its times.
Gifu Chochin were first made by Juzo, a lantern maker in Gifu and the abundant supply of local bamboo and paper contributed greatly to the development of the craft. It seems that lanterns with similar features to those available today were in general circulation around the first half of the 19th century, and while some were used for the Obon festival or Festival of the Dead, others were simply lit to enjoy the coolness of a summer evening.