When most rooms in Japanese houses had tatami floors, an easy daily cleanup was done with broom and dustpan. Sweeping removed dust quickly and was a simple activity that kept everyday life clean.
Such scenes are seen less and less often these days, but is this a good thing, even though our lifestyles are getting more diverse? Just to clean up a small space, we have to pull out a vacuum cleaner, use it for a short period, then put it back.
Bearing this in mind, why don't you keep a broom and 'harimi' (paper dustpan) in your room? A harimi is made from Japanese paper coated with persimmon tannin, and the size is about 20cm. The color of a harimi is appropriate and it will fit in with any kind of room. The size is quite small and it does not appear jarring.
Daily tools like a harimi look wonderful, even when left lying around in a room. Moreover, a harimi is very useful when used with a small broom for little spaces such as desktops and shelves.
Itoire (literally meaning “thread insertion”) is a technique employed in the making of Ise-katagami (paper stencil patterns), which is a traditional handicraft handed down in Mie Prefecture. Ise kimono stencil is made of Japanese washi paper with a persimmon stringent liquid, onto which elaborate and elegant kimono patterns are hand-carved.
In the case of patterns such as stripes, where there are substantial spaces between the uncut areas of the stencil, threads are fixed to the stencils to strengthen them and prevent movement during use, which technique is called “itoire.”
As itoire is an elaborate technique to require a long period of training and painstaking efforts, successors of this technique are decreasing in number and the technique using silk gauze (called “sha-bari”) are now replacing it. The itoire craftsperson Mie Jonokuchi was designated as a Living National Treasure together with 5 other Ise-katagami craftspeople in 1955; regrettably all have passed away now.
Ikkanbari bamboo craft is designated as a traditional handicraft by Kagawa Pref. It is a kind of papier-mâché technique, in which washi paper is pasted on wooden or bamboo frames then coated with persimmon tannin. As Sanuki province (present-day Kagawa Pref.) is a hometown of Kobodaishi Kukai, it is said that the lacquering technique to use persimmon tannin was introduced from China by Kukai. This craft was, however, invented in the 17th century by Hirai Ikkan, a naturalized person from Ming dynasty China. Until plastic was introduced, persimmon tannin was used in many ways such as vessels or base for lacquering. The Ikkanbari product is very strong and durable because of the water-proof and antiseptic property of persimmon tannin. It is subdued in color and has staid gloss. At the present time, items such as baskets, plates and small boxes are being made. Recently Ikkanbari is also favored as the material for Japanese-styled indirect lighting.
A type of dyeing and hand-weaving technique based in Jyoukamachi-hirose, Yasugi City, Shimane Prefecture, hirose-gasuri has been handed down from the 7th year of the Bunnsei period when Sadako Nagaoka, the daughter of the town doctor, brought back the gasuri dyeing and weaving techniques from the town of Yonago and taught the techniques to the women of Hirose. Soon after, the high quality of the gasuri caught on, and from the end of the Edo period to the early Meiji period, hirose-gasuri came to compete with kurume-gasuri in skill, fame, and reputation. Prior to the development of the gasuri, ordinary clothes were made of linen, so the smooth texture and design of the gasuri motivated the people of Hirose to learn its skills. Its distinct characteristics lie in its making, in which persimmon juice is brushed over rice paper, and a large peculiar paper mold is used to enlarge the long vertical designs. The gasuri is famous for its large picturesque designs, in which the fabric is weaved in such a way that the design can be seen clearly. It is designated as a Traditional Hometown Handicraft.