Ishikawa cypress weaving is a traditional handicraft in Hakusan City, Ishikawa Prefecture. It was designated as a prefecture’s traditional craft product in 1988.
The beginning of cypress weaving was about 400 years ago, when a traveling priest visited a village in Hakusan and taught the villagers how to weave hats with cypress strips. By the middle of the Edo period, weaving hats had become the important source of income for the villagers.
Strips of cypress called hin-na, or hegi, are woven to make articles. The most famous product is the Hakusan cypress hat, which has been made since the early Showa period (1926-1989). As it is light in weight, strong and effectively blocks off the rain and sunlight, it is widely used by farmers. The time before busy farming season is the peak of the production of Hakusan hats. Today, 6 workmen undertake the annual orders of about 700 hats. Cypress weaving is also adapted in folk crafts such as oboke (baskets to store spun hemp thread), baskets, flower vases, etc. Each item is a charming handicraft with utility and beauty.
This craft involves the carving of natural semiprecious stone for art objects, craft products and accessories. Its techniques in carving and polishing have developed throughout a long history and highly appreciated not only in Japan but also in many other countries.
This craft started in the Heian period (794-1192), when quartz was found in the deep mountain beyond Mitake Shosenkyo Gorge. When it was first discovered, it was used as an ornament, but by the Edo period (1603-1868), master craftsmen from Kyoto were invited to this area and they taught local craftsmen the techniques of making raw material into gems, which developed into the present Koshu crystal carving.
The production reached its peak with export growth in the postwar period, but today ornaments and items of jewelry for domestic customers are being produced. Many of these pieces have been created to make the most of the transparent colors and brilliance of the natural gem stone. They are not merely beautiful but have an uplifting feeling and sense of being alive.
Jugoya Festival (Moon Festival), or popularly called “Jugoya-san,” is held on around the 15th day of the 8th lunar month every year in Hyuga City, Miyazaki Prefecture. The whole city is wrapped in a festival mood with a lot of tourists from inside and outside the prefecture.
It is said that this festival originates in the festival of Tomitaka Hachimangu Shrine, which was founded by Nasu no Yoichi and Kudo Suketsune to bolster the morale of the soldiers of their troops, who had come to Kyushu in pursuit of the Heike warriors having escaped from the battle field at Dannoura. The enshrined deity at this shrine was transferred from Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine in Kamakura at this time.
On the festival day, the parade of Mitate-zaiku, the flower floats and the dancing teams walk through the city. In the recent years, Hyuga Jugoya-daiko drum performance is added to the festival program, which further warms up the festival mood in the streets.
Tanabata Edoro Matsuri is a festival held in Yuzawa City, Akita Pref. in August every year. A lot of decorative strips and paperwork are attached to thick bamboo poles and boxes with pretty ladies painted on them are lit up at night. The festival dates back to the middle of the Edo period (around 1700), when a princess of Takatsukasa family, a court noble in Kyoto, married into Satake Yoshiyasu, the 5th head of the Stake Nanke clan, one of the branch family of the Akita domain lord. Gripped by homesickness, the princess wrote her nostalgic feelings on strips and put them on a bamboo pole. Accordingly the townspeople who heard of the princess’s grief began to display strips and streamers on the bamboo poles and prayed that she might get over the grief. After the Meiji period (1868-1912), the present lantern boxes were began to be displayed on the streets. The boxes are also displayed in the city hall all through the year. A lot of visitors come to enjoy this fantastic summer festival held to the memory of the princess.
Umoregi-zaiku (bogwood carvings) is a traditional handicraft handed down in Aobayama in Miyagi Prefecture. “Umoregi” is carbonized, or fossilized, conifer, which lay buried in the layers of 3 to 5 million years ago. It was found a lot in the areas of Aobayama. .
The history of this handicraft dates back to the late Edo period. In 1822, Yamashita Shukichi, a foot-soldier of the Sendai domain, discovered pieces of bogwood in Aobayama. He made all kinds of efforts and finally succeeded in making out a plate to put on vessels or votive offerings to deities. The making of this craft rapidly spread among the low-ranked warriors in the domain as their side jobs.
Umoregi-zaiku is a unique handicraft that isn’t done in any other part of the country, and Umoregi itself is a unique material for crafts that is difficult to obtain today. In the making of Umoregi-zaiku, a piece of wood is hollowed out into a desired shape with chisels. Then lacquer is applied with fuki-urushi (buffing of coated lacquer) technique to create gloss. After lacquer is applied and buffed out 7 to 8 times, the product takes on deep gloss and stately appearance. With its beautiful grain and graceful luster, this blackish brown Umoregi becomes a high-grade work of art. .
Kyoto wood work is best known for joinery, the work of joining different shapes of wood to make a form. However, besides conventional joinery, carving, bentwood work, turnery, cooperage are all included in Kyoto joinery.
Wood turnery is the technique to produce wooden crafts in a concentric shape like bows and trays by applying a blade on a piece of wood that is spinning on a turner. A turner was operated by hand in the ancient times, but an electric turner is used today. However, adjustment of the rotational frequency and blade angle at the final stage is still done by hand to create beautiful curves. Some turnery works will be on the market as completed products and others will be further curved or lacquered. Making full use of the qualities of the wood as it is, Kyoto wood turnery works have fineness and warmth.
The Historical Village of Hokkaido located in Ashibetsu-cho, Ashibetsu-ku, Sapporo City, Hokkaido is a theme park to show what pioneer life was like in Hokkaido. This outdoor museum was open to the public in 1983 as a part of the undertaking of the centennial commemoration of Hokkaido. The park covers an area of 54.2 ha, where many buildings in all parts of Hokkaido were removed and restored to show people’s lives, industry, economy and culture in olden day Hokkaido. The site is divided into Town, Fishing Village, Farm Village, and Mountain Village sectors. Horse drawn trolleys in summer and sleighs in winter provide transportation for visitors along the main street. Besides, there are many delightful entertainments throughout the year such as the hands-on-experience classes of traditional toy making or straw work, demonstration of puffed rice making and various street performances. The visitors will learn and experience the lifestyle of the pioneering period in Hokkaido.
Edo kiriko is a glass-cutting handicraft that began in the late Edo period. The origin of this craft dates back to 1834, when a craftsman, Kagaya Hisabe, first created a new technique of cutting glass with powdered emery.
In the late Edo period, transparent lead glass (crystal glass) was the main glass material used for this craft. The patterns were familiar ones seen on kimonos, such as bamboo fencing, chrysanthemums and hemp.
Now, many Edo kiriko pieces are made using faded glass. The layer of colored glass is thin and vivid.
In 2002, Edo kiriko was designated as a Traditional Handicraft by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry