The first porcelain to be produced in the Kutani area was in the 17th century, when a member of the Kaga clan, Goto Saijiro, who had studied the techniques of making porcelain in Arita in northern Kyushu, set up a kiln making Kokutani ware, a suitable porcelain clay having been discovered in the area.
Tosa Forged Blades
Records show that at the end of the 16th century there were some 400 smiths at work in Tosa. While they were skilled in the making of the samurai sword, they also seem to have made sickles and knives at the request of local farmers. Subsequently, with the promotion of forestry and the development of new fields in the area, bladed tools for agriculture and forestry were made in large quantities and a production center for forged goods came into being.
The origins of this ware date back to sometime between the second half of the 7th century and 8th century A.D. At the time, a type of earthenware called sueki was being fired and in the early days, seed pots used by farmers were being made. Subsequently, however, it seems that temple roof tiles were produced.
Sendai tansu grew as a local industry of the Sendai-han beginning in the final years of the Edo period (1603 - 1868). The kijiro-nuri wood treatment that brings out the wood grain, and the deluxe metal fittings that decorate the chests are distinctive features of this craft.
Sanshu Onigawara Crafts
These traditional crafts have a history of over 300 years and flourished at the beginning of the 18th century. People who make onigawara crafts are known as “onishi” or “oniitashi”. In addition to the traditional types with gargoyles and family crests, the onigawara craft extends to other products such as small ornaments for interior design and outdoor decorations.
The origins of Mikawachi Yaki date back to the building of a kiln by Korean potters that were brought back to this area of Kyushu by landowners who had taken part in Toyotomi Hideyoshi's campaign to the Korean Peninsular at the end of the 16th century.
Takayama Tea Whisks
The making of tea whisks began in the middle of the Muromachi period (1333-1568), when the younger son of the lord of Takayama was asked to make a whisk by Murata Juko, who had been instrumental in perfecting the tea ceremony. Thereafter, the production method was kept a guarded secret by the lord of the castle and his family and was carefully handed down from generation to generation.
Odate Bentwood Work
Satake Yoshinobu was a military commander who fought with Toyotomi Hideyoshi at the battle of Sekigahara in 1600. Hideyoshi was vanquished and Satake was ordered by the Tokugawa Shogunate to move from his former domain of Mito to Akita in the extreme north of Honshu. He found the people there were very poor and some did not even have enough to eat. As castellans of Odate castle, the western branch of Satake family set about trying to relieve the poverty of their people by using the rich supplies of timber to be found in the fief.
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.
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.
Seto Underglazed Ware
At the beginning of the 19th century, local people returned from Kyushu armed with the techniques for firing porcelain and a way of applying decorations using a soft Southern Sung Dynasty style of painting with great charm that they had learned from a specialist painter.
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.