Okazaki Stone Carving
The origins of this craft date back to the latter part of the Muromachi period (1391-1573). It was during the following Momoyama period (1573-1600), however, that the lord of Okazaki castle brought in skilled stone masons from Kawachi and Izumi to carry out some improvements to the surrounding town and had stone walls and moats built.
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.
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.
Edo Art Dolls
In the middle of the Edo period (1600-1868), a priest called Takahashi Tadashige is said to have been very proud of a small wooden doll that he had carved from scraps of willow which were left over from boxes used in a festival at Kamigamo shrine in Kyoto. Then using remnants of fabric from his priest's clothing, he dressed the doll by inserting the ends of the fabric into the wooden torso.
Kishu Lacquer Ware
Wood turners settled in the vicinity of present day Shiga Prefecture during the Muromachi period (1392-1573) and the turbulent times before the end of the 16th century. These craftsmen started making wooden soup bowls using the plentiful supplies of Japanese cypresses (Chamaecyparis Spach) found locally. This led to the production of shibujiwan bowls, which were primed with the tannin-rich juice extracted from persimmons.
Kasukabe Paulownia Chests
At the beginning of the Edo period (1600-1868), craftsmen who had gathered to build the Toshogu Shrine in Nikko, took up residence in Kasukabe, an inn town along the old Nikko post road. It is said that these craftsmen were responsible for starting this craft by making cabinets and small articles out of paulownia taken from the surrounding area.
Kijoka Banana Fiber Cloth
It seems that banana fiber cloth was already being made around the 13th century but it was much later that it became popular. In the old days banana trees were planted in gardens and fields, and the womenfolk of a family wove it into fabric for home use. Silk and cotton became much more readily available during the 19th century but people still enjoyed wearing banana fiber cloth. Kijoka no Bashofu, which carries on these traditions, was designated as a cultural property by the Prefecture in 1972 and two years later in 1974 it was made an important intangible cultural property by the nation.
Coming first from China, the abacus was brought to Otsu from Nagasaki toward the end of the Muromachi period (1392-1573). It was during the following Momoyama period (1573-1600), when Toyotomi Hideyoshi sieged Miki castle, that the people of this small castle town fled to nearby Otsu, where some learned how to make the abacus. When they finally returned to their homeland, they began making what became the Banshu Soroban.
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.