Kyoto Round Fans
Kyo Uchiwa go back to the period in Japanese history known as the Northern and Southern Dynasties (1333-92). It is said that round fans from Korea were brought back to western Japan by wako, Japanese pirates who were constantly raiding the coast of Ming dynasty China and Korea at the time. These imported fans then found their way up through the Kishu to Nara and then onto Fukakusa where aristocrats from Kyoto had their country villas.
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.
Originating in India, this method of weaving was introduced into Japan around the 14th century along eastern trade routes.
Kyoto Black Dyeing
Although the dyeing of cloth black has a very long history dating back to the 10th century, it seems that it was not until the 17th century that it became established as a recognized craft to include family crests.
The weaving of this cloth started about the same time as the Yomitanzan Hanaori Fabrics and is similarly characterized by its tropical feel and motifs. Production ceased for a time but was revived by elderly people who knew the techniques involved.
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.
When the head of the Tokushima fief ordained that porcelain in the style of Nanking and Karatsu Yaki should be produced in 1780, craftsman were brought in from the island of Kyushu, a kiln was built and production began.
Toyooka Willow Basketry
The craft can be traced back to the 1st century AD, and there is a willow basketwork box, the Tajima no Kunisan Yanagibako, among the treasures held at the Shoso-in Repository in Nara.
When the monk Kukai journeyed to China some 1,200 years ago, he made a study of brush making there and on his return, he passed on his knowledge to people living in the province of Yamatokoku that is now called Nara Prefecture. This marked the beginnings of brush making here.
Suruga Hina Doll Fittings
Paraphernalia for the Hina Matsuri or doll festival was already being produced in Suruga in the 16th century when Imagawa was feudal lord of this province that corresponds to present-day Shizuoka Prefecture. With the construction of Kunosan Toshogu shrine and the Asama Shrine, many advanced craft techniques were introduced from all over the country and the production of Hina paraphernalia developed as part of the lacquer ware industry which, benefiting from the warm humid climate of the area, became established during the Edo period (1600 -1868).
While mention is made of an Iyo paper in the Engishiki, an official document on court protocol written in the Heian period (794-1185), hard facts about Ozu Washi do not exist until the 18th century. The monk, Zennoshin was responsible for teaching people how to make paper, when he came to one of the villages of the Ozu clan, and what developed into a craft industry flourished under the protection and patronage of the clan.
Kawatsura Lacquer Ware
The beginnings of this craft go back to the Kamakura period (1185-1333), when the younger brother of the lord of the fief who ruled this area, ordered the retainers to take up lacquering pieces of armor and weaponry as a job, using locally tapped lacquer and Japanese beech cut from the mountains in the area. The making of bowls began in earnest in the middle of the Edo period (1600-1868) and by the end of the period work was concentrated on the three districts of Kawatsura in what is now Inakawa-cho, Odate and Minashi and the making of everyday pieces of household goods flourished in what had become a production center.