The origins of Shinshu Tsumugi go back to a silk cloth called ashiginu that was woven in the Nara period (710-794). Because of the rivalry and encouragement that the clans in the province of Shinshu were given, sericulture was very popular and the production of pongee throughout the province flourished, and every year large quantities of cloth were dispatched to Kyoto.
Kiso Lacquer Ware
It was the beginning of the 17th century when this craft got its start, very much founded on the plentiful supplies of local Japanese cypress for the production of carcasses for goods rich in local color. Subsequently the craft developed under firm patronage from the Owari Tokugawa clan through the Edo Period (1603-1868) and this craft became popular with those travelling along the Nakasendo Highway.
Matsumoto Kagu developed from one of the trades set up around the time that Matsumoto in present-day Nagano Prefecture became a castle town in the latter half of the 16th century. It was not until the end of the Edo period (1600-1868), however, that the production of household furniture actually began.
According to an old document found in Nagiso, turnery began here sometime during the first half of the 18th century, when unfinished forms for trays and bowls were being sent to Nagoya and Osaka. For this to happen, it must be assumed that lathes were first turning sometime before.
Shinshu Forged Blades
The origins of forged blades in this area go back to the second half of the 16th century, to the time of the Kawanakajima battles. It was at this time that swordsmiths and others making and repairing weapons moved into the area and the local people learned forging skills.
Iiyama Household Buddhist Altars
The making of Buddhist household altars became firmly established in the thriving religious community of Iiyama during the beginning of the 17th century. All of the work was done in the area by different craftsmen and then the whole thing was assembled.
Early in the 17th century, Hagiwara Kiuemon, a resident of a small village in Uchiyama district went to learn how to make paper in Mino, itself famous for its handmade papers. On returning home, he began making paper and from these simple beginnings, the craft flourished in this area where the heavy snowfalls have contributed to the techniques of this fine handmade paper.