The Sendai fishig rod, the hallmark of a Japanese traditional telescopic fishing rod, is coveted by anglers all over the country. Date Masamune, the founder of the Sendai domain, who had a broad range of interests and loved fishing, also favored this flexible and strong fishing rod.
It has been made in the same way for 400 years since the time of Masamune. Materials of the rod are carefully selected from locally grown eight species of bamboo including Matake and Koyadake in accordance with the function of each section of the rod from the end-piece to the middle-pices and the handgrip. Then the materials are made into one set of fishing rod through as many as 200 detailed manufaturing processes. At the final stage of the production, lacquer is applied many times to give the rod wonderful gloss.
The rod breaks down to 6 to 15 sections and extends to an about 3-meter rod. The whole rod keeps good balance and its performance is extremely excellent. Although composed of many sections, the rod feels like one bamboo stick. It is known for its light and flexible action. It is both functional and practical, and also an exquisite piece of craftsmanship.
“Ubushina” is derived from the ancient Japanese word for birthplace
“ubusuna” and is the name of a project managed by t.c.k.w inc, a compay
run by design director, Yudai Tachikawa.
Ubushina introduces the techniques used by outstanding artisans to
commercial projects undertaken by contemporary architects and designers and,
through structuring the overall project and product planning stages,
manages to carefully implement the techniques all the way through to the
consumer. They visit artisans’ studios and workshops nationwide and
intricately plan how their extraordinary techniques can be implemented and
applied to commercial products. They engage architects and designers to find
out their needs and requests, contemplating a product’s overall strategy
and attending to every eventuality so that the techniques and design work
What is remarkable is their attitude in which they try to bring out a new
value in traditional artworks and artisans’ handicrafts such as lacquer
ware, metalwork, gold leaf and bamboo craft. Fusing unique traditional craft
methods and a modern day design aesthetic, they create exciting new products
with fresh contemporary values.
Suruga Sensuji bamboo ware is a traditional handicraft made in Shizuoka Pref. “Sensuji” means 1,000 thin bamboo strips. This craft dates back to the early Edo period (1603-1868), when warriors in the Okazaki domain (present-day Shizuoka Pref.) began to make woven hats for hunting and traveling using bamboo instead rattan, because rattan hats were expensive in those days. As the bamboo hats gained popularity, there were about 40 warriors who were engaged in this craft as a side job. In the early days, the products were “cheap and nasty,” but they gradually became superior in quality through improvements. Eventually Suruga bamboo ware rose in popularity all over the nation. Suruga Sensuji bamboo ware is characterized by the use of thin round strips to make it delicate and gentle. It is designated as a Traditional Handicraft by the Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry.
Ibaraki Prefecture has long been famous for its bamboo, ever since the 2nd lord of the Mito Domain, Tokugawa Mitsukuni (Mito Komon), first began to protect and encourage their cultivation.
Hitachi bamboo dolls are handmade from high-quality bamboo such as Japanese timber bamboo, as well as 'moso', 'monchiku', 'kurochiku, 'toratake', 'susutake' and 'gomatake' bamboo.
These dolls are made from bamboo that has been naturally dried over 2~3 years and is oil-free. Each part of the doll is made from bamboo and pieced together using bamboo nails. Colors and patterns are then painted on the carved and sculpted surface of the bamboo.
Usually the dolls are based on figures in Noh and Kabuki drama and are very elaborate. There are also dolls that depict local characters, such as the Komon and Umemusume dolls. Lovely animal figures for each year of the Chinese zodiac are also carved from bamboo using the same technique as the dolls.
The mikinokuchi is a folk craft article that dates back more than 300 years. It is presented in symmetrical pairs within a tokkuri and placed on the household Shinto altar of each district in order to celebrate the gods. It is also sometimes seen at weddings and ridgepole-raising ceremonies for good luck or as a charm.
Although the origin of the mikinokuchi is unclear, it is believed that it may have developed from a gohei (a white decorative item used mostly in Shinto rituals), or that it is an 'antenna' for receiving a god.
Mikinokuchi are made from bamboo, cypress or paper depending on the district, but mikinokuchi from Shimoichi in Yoshino, Nara Prefecture, are made from Yoshino cedar. Mikinokuchi are made by weaving thin slats of wood that are cut by a kanna and notched on the surface. They are flame shaped, which represents the wish that all evil and filth be burned away.
In Shimoichi, the mikinokuchi is burned after New Year, during the Dontoyaki (a rite which terminates New Year celebrations in Japan) in order to wish for perfect health for everyone throughout the year.
Edo sudare blind-making is a traditional handicraft which uses natural materials like bamboo.
In her 'Pillow Book', the Heian-period authoress Sei Shonagon confirms that sudare were used at court. By the early Edo period, the main techniques of sudare-making were firmly established and there were expert sudare craftsmen.
Kitagawa Utamaro (1753-1806), the famous Ukiyoe (woodblock-print) artist often depicted sudare in his works, such as 'Coolness in Hyakka-en', 'A Beauty behind a Sudare' and 'Fuzoku Sandan Girls'. Indeed sudare were common features in the Edo period.
Edo sudare directly express such natural materials as bamboo, lespedeza (Japanese clover), cattail and reed. Bamboo is the most popular material and it is picked between the autumn and spring equinox, when it is firm and takes on beautiful colors.
Edo sudare are still used today as a cool interior decoration and are essential to the elegance of summer.
In Kyoto, it was a tradition from ancient times to grow high-quality bamboo and process it. The processed bamboo is called 'kyo-meichiku' and is used in architecture, for artifacts, and to decorate traditional Japanese rooms.
It is believed that bamboo originated from China. The fluctuating climate in the fertile Kyoto basin, created just the right environment for bamboo to grow strongly and flourish.
During the Heian period, bamboo began to be used in architecture to create the structure of walls and pillars. It also became increasingly used in many aspects of Kyoto culture, such as in gardens, as both a plant and a structural feature, and in pavilions used for the tea-ceremony.
Bamboo adds a special taste to Kyoto's cityscape. It is designated as one of Kyoto's traditional crafts.
Kyoto-style fans are similar to Korean-style fans, in that they have many bamboo sticks inside the fan paper, and have a ‘Sashigara’ structure. With the ‘Sashigara’ structure, the fan side and the handle side of the uchiwa are made separately. As one of Kyoto’s handicrafts, this fan style has attained the summit of delicacy and elegance and its advanced techniques have been passed down firmly for generations. Kyoto-style fans are sometimes called ‘Miyako-uchiwa (capital fans)’ and having been used in the Imperial Palace for a long time, they have always been designed with elegant pictures. The use of fans first spread to Japan from China and Korea, during the Nara period when fans became popular among the aristocracy, not just for cooling oneself, but also for blocking wind and sunlight, as well as hiding one’s face, or just as an accessory. During the Warring States period, they were also used as generals war fans. The handles are made from moso bamboo, Japanese cedar and lacquer, while the faces of the fans are made from Minou, Tosa and Echizen paper. Decorations feature people, landscapes, haiku and waka as motifs, and use techniques from painting, block printing, hand-made dyeing, and carving to express a traditional beauty. Even now, due to the reaffirmation of the concept of “wa”, they are popular if only as decoration.