Akasaka Dolls are clay dolls made in Akasaka, Chikugo City, Fukuoka Pref. It is designated as a prefectural specialty craft product. Three is no record about a precise history of this handicraft and its origin is unknown but it is presumed that those dolls were first made as an odd job of the potters who worked for the official kilns of Arima Province in the middle of the Edo period. The most famous one is an ocarina called “Tette-Poppo (meaning an awkward man in the local dialect), which was popular among children in those days. Now there are more than ten kinds of dolls including Fukujin (a lucky god), Tenjin (a god of scholarship), and a monkey. The doll is made by applying white pigment made of burnt seashell to a simple brown ware, to which colorful painting is given. It is a very simple clay doll but its simplicity reminds us of childish innocence. It is the representative traditional folk craft in Chikugo area.
Takashi Miyake is a master craftsman in Hakata Doll, a traditional handicraft in Hakata area in Fukuoka Pref. He was certificated as a traditional craftsman by Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry in 1976. He has been awarded a lot of prizes in exhibitions of Japanese traditional art crafts including Prime Minister Prize (4 times) and Minister of Trade and Industry Prize (twice). He was also the former president of Hakata Doll Association. The history of Hakata Doll dates back to the early Edo period (1603-1868), when Kuroda Nagamasa was enfeoffed to the Chikuzen domain, a ridge-end tile workman, Masaki Soshichi dedicated a biscuit fired toy doll to the domain lord. Later, simple dolls for townspeople were mainly produced and they were loved by the people all over the nation. A great variety of figures are made including beautiful women, kabuki players, children and themes from festivals as well as some modern folkways. Although he has been engaged in this trade for 50 years, he always agonizes before setting to a new work. However, once he has worked out a conception, he makes out an exquisite work using his splendid skills without hesitation. He is also engaged in a broad range of activities such as the making of the dolls for Hakata Gion Yamagasa Festival. He has now exerts himself in training young craftsmen.
Koishiwara Ware is a pottery made in Koishiwara Village, Asakura-gun, Fukuoka Pref. It is a traditional handicraft with a history of 400 years. The kiln set up by the feudal lord of Kuroda Province in 1682 during the early Edo period was the first kiln in Chikuzen area (present northern Kyushu). It was originally called Nakano Ware and large porcelain urns, jars, and sake flasks were mainly made. In the middle of the 18th century, pottery began to be made under the name of Koishiwara Ware. It is characterized by a number of geometric patterns applied by unique techniques such as chattering (a curved metal tool is allowed to jump and cut into the surface), the application of a brush mark pattern, and combing. In many cases, biscuit firing is not given and the glaze is poured onto the main surface of the piece to produce a variety of random effects. Koishiwara Village used to be a small and quiet pottery village, but since the late Showa 30s Koishiwara Ware, taking advantage of the pottery boom, has attained national eminence. There are as many as 50 kilns in the village now, the oldest of which has a history of 300 years.
Furin is a small hanging bell that rings in the breeze. A tongue dangling in the center of the bell strikes the sides of the bell and creates a pleasant sound. Furin originates in “Sen-futaku,” which was suspended in the bamboo grove and used to tell fortunes in ancient China. It was introduced to Japan with Buddhism and called “Futaku,” whose sound was believed to get rid of evil. During the Kyoho era (1716-1735) of the Edo period, a glass furin was first made and became very popular among townspeople. Today there are many types of furin being made of a variety of materials and taking a variety of shapes, including glass-made Edo furin with lovely pictures, rugged Nanbu iron furin, Hibachi-furin (taking a shape of a traditional Japanese heater), unglazed clay bell, Sumi-furin made of combined pieces of charcoal. The cool sound of furin is one of the things that provide us with a feeling of summer.