In Japan, ever since the Jomon and Yayoi periods, people have made thread from fiber derived from plants and trees that grow naturally in the mountains such as Japanese linden, mulberry, elm, wisteria, kudzu, and ramie, and used this thread to weave fabric and make clothing and ornaments for private home use.
The history of weaving in the Shiozawa area is very long and an example of a linen cloth--now Echigo linen--woven during the Nara period (710-794) is preserved in the Shosoin Repository in Nara. The skills and techniques used to weave this linen cloth were adopted for the weaving of a silk cloth that became Shiozawa Tsumugi and was first woven during the Edo period (1600-1868).
Ojiya Ramie Crepe
The history of linen weaving in Ojiya goes back a very long time. A piece of pottery which is thought to have been made at the end of the Jomon period (ca.10000-ca.200 BC) has been discovered bearing the imprint of some woven fabric. Well suited to the climate of Ojiya, woven linen was valued highly and was presented to the Shogun.
Pongee was first produced here in the middle of the Edo period (1600-1868), when sericulture began. By the end of the same era, production had increased to such an extent that silk merchants came to do business from places which had their own flourishing weaving industry such as Kyoto and Joshu, the area that now corresponds to present-day Gunma prefecture.
Along with Shiozawa Tsumugi, Honshiozawa is a representative cloth from the Shiozawa area and has been well known by the name Shiozawa Omeshi for some time past. Its origins are said to date back to the middle of the 18th century and similarly to the crepe from Echigo, it is a silk crepe with a characteristic crimp, which makes use of linen weaving techniques.
It seems likely that Echigo Chijimi's ikat techniques became established during the first half of the 18th century. However, it was not until the latter part of the 19th century that they were used for weaving a silk cloth, after a warp ikat had been successfully perfected.
Tokamachi Akashi Crepe
Towards the end of the 19th century a sample roll of summer-weight kimono cloth was brought back to Tokamachi from Nishijin in Kyoto. Work then began on adapting an existing local weave called Tokamachi sukiya with a view to producing something new. A great deal of effort was then put into developing and improving the ways of tightly twisting up weft threads, resulting in improvements to another existing cloth, yorisukiya.
Murakami Carved and Lacquered Ware
The Murakami area of Niigata Prefecture has been well known since the Heian period (794-1185) as a natural lacquer producing area. Using this refined sap, Murakami Kibori Tsuishu dates back to the beginning of the 15th century.
Niigata Lacquer Ware
Techniques were originally introduced from other centers where lacquer ware was being made at the beginning of 17th century but in 1638, a specialist area for the selling of japanned goods was established under the name of a ""bowl store"" in what is now Furumachi, and received official protection. By 1819, the craft was well enough established for a list of ""master lacquerers"" to be recorded.
Kamo Paulowina Chests
It seems that the making of Kamo Kiri Tansu began with one made by a carpenter in the early part of the 19th century. The very same chest is still being used in the city of Kamo today and it is inscribed on the back with ""Purchased 1814"".
Tsubame Beaten Copperware
Beaten copper work really began in the Tsubame area during the middle of the Edo period (1600-1868) when specialists from Sendai in present-day Miyagi prefecture come to the area and passed on their skills. Kettles were some of the first articles made using copper from a locally mined source.
Echigo Yoita Forged Blades
The making of Echigo Yoita Uchihamono dates back to the Sengoku period (1428-1573) of unrest. It was then that warring feudal lords who fought alongside Uesugi Kenshin encouraged swordsmiths from Kasugayama into the area and these skilled men began making various kinds of forged blades.