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.
Sakai Forged Blades
Guns and tobacco were introduced into Japan in the middle of the 16th century by the Portuguese. By the end of that century, small tobacco knives were being forged in Sakai and the Tokugawa Shogunate awarded the forgers of Sakai a special seal of approval and guarantee of their quality.
Hikone Household Buddhist Altars
Gradually during the 18th century, highly skilled armorers, lacquerers and other artisans were encouraged by the Hikone clan to work on the making of household altars, at first more or less as a ""cottage industry"". Subsequently with the rise in popularity of Buddhism and the patronage of the Hikone clan, a production center became established, forming the foundations of the small craft industry as it exists today.
Legend has it that some 1,500 years ago, a beautiful princess came to the village of Okatagawa and taught the people there how to make paper. In the Nara period (710-794) the paper was highly respected for the copying of Buddhist sutras. Then, when paper began to be used in large quantities by the warrior class, some very high quality papers such as Echizen Hosho were produced in large amounts and using improved techniques.
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.
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.
Satsuma was one of the old provinces occupying what is now the western part of Kagoshima Prefecture at the southern end of Kyushu. Forces from Satsuma invaded Ryukyu in 1609 and the compulsory weaving of Yaeyama Jofu to pay a poll tax that was levied, in turn led to an improvement of techniques.
At the beginning of the Kamakura period (1185-1333), carpenters and cabinet makers were invited from Kyoto and Kamakura to build temples and shrines in the area, and Miyajima Zaiku as it is today, is a natural extension of the techniques that were used.
Fostered by the well-known entrepreneurial spirit of Omi tradesmen, the hot local climate and a plentiful supply of water from the Aichi River, production of woven ramie cloth developed in this area from the Kamakura period (1185-1333).
Kanazawa Household Buddhist Altars
It is possible to trace the origins of Kanazawa Butsudan back to the 17th century. What prompted their production was the sheer number of people who had been converted to the Jodo Shinshu in the Hokuriku region of Japan, after Rennyo-shonin, a Buddhist priest of the same order visited the area to spread the word.
Written during the Nara period (710-794), reference is made to papers from this area in such ancient documents to be found in the Shosoin Repository in Nara. Further evidence of the long history of Etchu Washi can also be found in the Heian period (794-1185) document on court protocol, the Engishiki, in which it is recorded that paper was used to pay taxes.