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
Kazuwa Ware is a representative porcelain of Kurayoshi, Tottori Prefecture, and is designated as the folk craftwork of the prefecture. It is said that Kazuwa Ware first began to be made around 1750 (Houreki era).
Kurayoshi clay is rich in iron, and turns black on firing. The typical glaze for Kazuwa Ware has a distinctive deep reddish color. Therefore, the base color of the pottery is black with a red overlay. Fired Kazuwa Ware takes on a dark red, and is used as dishes or vases: the delicate color exudes a warmth to its users.
Recently, vessels with new and fresh designs have begun to appear. One such color other than red is a cool breezy color that is used for dishes: it is a white-base with blue and green. Another color that is now available is a rich purple with original glaze colors over it.
Kazuwa Ware features a unique ceramic style: like a glass locking the sky and the earth inside it.
Obori-soma ware is the local pottery of Obori, Namie Town, Fukushima Prefecture. In 1690, Sama, a servant of Hangai Kyukan, an Aima domain samurai, established this pottery.
The Soma domain encouraged pottery-making, so, by the end of the Edo period, there were about 100 kilns for the area.
Since the Meiji period, however, the number of kilns has decreased and now only 24 kilns are making pottery that follows this 300-year tradition. Obori-soma ware is pottery that has been loved by commoners since the end of the Edo period.
The ware mainly produced is 'blue crack', which features a cracked celadon-blue glaze. The vessels are double-layered to keep tea inside hot; the running-horse motif is painted by hand.
In 1978, Obori-soma ware was designated as a National Traditional Handicraft.
Komin Osawa was born in 1941, in the district of Takaoka, famous for its copper-utensil industry. In 2005, his 'chukin' work was designated as an important intangible cultural heritage.
Chukin is a goldsmith technique that encompasses metal-fusing, mold-injection and casting. The craft dates back to the Yayoi period. It includes various casting methods such as, 'sogata, 'rogata, 'sunagata' and 'yakigata'. With the yakigata method, large work such as statues could be manufactured. Yet experience and mastery of the technique are necessary in all processes of the work.
Through the yakigata method, Osawa discovered his original 'igurumi' method to achieve his own aesthetic effects. Moreover, he also experiments with the beauty of geometry.
It is common for Osawa to work until midnight, yet he asserts with a fresh smile, 'Something just comes out of my brain when I'm working really hard.'
Akira Saito was born in 1920. In 1993, he was designated as a Living National Treasure for his 'chukin' work, an intangible cultural heritage. Chukin is a form of metal casting using molds and the lost-wax (or cire-perdue) technique.
Saito lost his father when he was a teenager and, to feed the family, he took over his father's atelier and fumbled along with the technique, finding his way. He lost everything during wartime, yet luckily he met a former teacher and cultivated his skills.
His motto is to create a piece that is 'simple but as broad as the universe'. He found his own method called 'fuki-wake' which uses two types of metals. He is over 80 now, but he is still making powerful and vigorous pieces.
Yokkaichi Banko Ware is a traditional handicraft made in the city of Yokkaichi, Mie Prefecture.
The name 'Banko Ware' derives from the mid-Edo period when the great merchant Nunami Rouzan placed his seal on the pottery with the words 'Bankofueki'. Because he was interested in the tea ceremony and in ceramics, the seal expressed his wish that his works would last forever.
The production of Banko Ware was suspended for a while after Rouzan's death, but started up once again in the late-Edo period. Today's Banko Ware in Yokkaichi is modeled on the early Meiji type of this ware and is produced following the techniques of that time.
The Yokkaichi Banko Ware kilns continue to produce distinctive ceramics that correspond to current trends. Some 70% of the earthen pots made in Japan are produced here at Yokkaichi. The place is also famous for producing teapots.
Yokkaichi Banko Ware is the representative local industry of Yokkaichi, and the craft has strong connections with the lives of the people. In 1979, Yokkaichi Banko Ware was designated as a traditional craftwork.