Edo Fishing Rods
Edo Wazao have always been made from natural culms (stems) of bamboo and were first made in Edo (Tokyo) in the middle of the Edo period (1600-1868). By the end of this era, they had taken on their present-day form and can truly be called works of art. With the sea on their doorstep and some beautiful rivers, too, these rods were a crystallization of research into the needs of those who lived in Edo and loved to fish.
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.
Pieces representing the beginnings of Tokoname Yaki 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.
The kiln set up by the feudal lord of the local Kuroda clan, in the 17th century at the beginning of the Edo period (1600-1868), was the first to be set up in Chikuzen in northern Kyushu. Large porcelain urns, jars and sake flasks were made under the name of Nakano yaki but in the middle of the 18th century, pottery was being produced under the name of Koishiwara Yaki.
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.
Nagoya Black Dyeing
At the beginning of the 17th century, the Owari clan controlled the area centered on present-day Nagoya. It was then that the Kosakai family--one of the families of retainers--was recognized as clan dyer by the Shogun, Tokugawa Ieyasu, and the making of clan flags and banners at this time led to the establishment of this craft.
Kawanabe Household Buddhist Altars
At the beginning of the Kamakura period (1185-1333) the Kawanabe area was noted for its connections with Buddhism. Kawanabe, a local powerful family who held sway over the southern part of what is now Kagoshima Prefecture, and the remains of Heike family, who were defeated at Dannoura, began holding memorial services and preaching the word of Buddha along a ravine of clear water in Kawanabe-cho.
Kyoto Buddhist Paraphernalia
It is conceivable that the various pieces of paraphernalia associated with Buddhism were first produced in Kyoto around the 8th century, when the monks Saichou and Kukai were exerting their influence on Heian Buddhism.
The origins of Imari Arita Yaki date back to the end of the 16th century when the Saga clan, which had been involved in Toyotomi Hideyoshi's campaigns in Korea, brought back the potter, Li Sanpei who discovered porcelain stone at Mount Arita Izumi, in northern Kyushu. The porcelain that was subsequently made there was the first to be produced anywhere in Japan and was originally called Imari Yaki, simply because it was shipped through the port of Imari.
This type of cloth dates back to the beginning of the 19th century, when a 12 year old girl called Inoue Den was inspired by a scrap of old material. Later, the Kurume clan in the south west of present day Fukuoka Prefecture promoted its production.
Yokaichi Banko Ware
Some 260 years ago there lived a wealthy merchant, Nunami Rozan. He was a knowledgeable exponent of tea and was interested in pottery. In fact, the name Banko-yaki or Banko ware originates from pieces he made himself. He stamped them with bankofueki, or literally "eternity, constancy", hoping they would be handed down through endless generations after he was gone.
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.