If you have a taste for the buckwheat noodle “soba” from Japan and you like it so much that you find dining on it at a restaurant occasionally does not satisfy you, then it could be time for you to start making your own soba at home. The alluring smell of freshly made soba, its texture and taste are true bliss and it can be experienced whenever you desire by making your own soba. Essential to the preparation of soba, you will need to use a professional broad knife especially made for cutting soba by a master craftsman. The soba knife with Kuroda-shiage (black finish) is made by sharpening only the blade leaving the upper part with its original black color. It uses Yasuki Hagane White Steel, premium silver high carbon steel, which is suitable for cutting noodles into thin slices. It weighs 650g so pressing down on the dough to cut it into noodles is easy. The price is not too high but they are professional quality. It is always a good item to have in your kitchen.
Yukio Minamikawa is an Edo Oshie Hagoita craftsman, and was born in 1929 in Sumida-ku, Tokyo.
In 1945, Minamikawa became involved in the production of 'hagoita' (battledores) under the instruction of his father. After that, he began making not only hagoita, but decorative items for himself to be shown at annual fairs held in May and March.
Every year, Minamikawa makes hagoita with a portrait of the symbolic person of each period. He makes hagoita for the Asakusa Hagoita Fair, held from 17th to 19th December, as well as dolls for May and March seasonal festivals.
He says: 'For the customers who are looking forward to my work, I will continue to make joyful hagoitas.'
Minamikawa is a director of the Tokyo Tori-no-Ichi Hagoita Association, a deputy director of the Tokyo Hina-doll Industry Association, and a president of Ayame-kai. In 1997, he was designated as a Tokyo Traditional Craftsman of Katsushika-ku.
Tojinbo is coastal area with spectacular scenery, most well known for its soaring cliff face. The harsh vertical rocks forming the cliff seem to be the result of a clash of strength between the sea god and the mountain god. Geologists deduce a volcano erupted about 1 million years ago and flowing magma formed pentagonal and hexagonal shaped pillar like crevices. The continually pounding waves of the Sea of Japan then carved the rock surface and, over time, produced cliffs towering as high as 25m. This astonishing scenery that continues for about 1km is geographically extremely valuable and has been designated as a National Scenic area and Monument. Tojinbo was named after a priest from Hiraizumi temple in Okuetsu, Fukui pref., who is said to have done many evil deeds throughout his life and, after a small dispute with another man, was thrown to his death from the cliff. When fierce winds and ferocious waves crash against the cliff, the soul of Tojinbo may also be heard howling.
Japan’s representative woodcraft artist, a bearer of Important Intangible Cultural Heritage (designated in 1994). Born on September 1st, 1934, in Yamanaka Town, Ishikawa Prefecture, Kawakita Ryozo got his training in woodturning skills under his father Kawakita Koichi and Himi Kodo, a woodcraft artist. In 1962, selected for Exhibition of Japan Traditional Art Crafts forthe first time, both in 1966 and 1968, awarded President of Japan Art Crafts Association Prize, and successively appointed as an audit commissioner since then, having won a lot of prizes by now.Making effective use of a characteristic of materials such as zelkova, mulberry, maple tree and chestnut, he has given out fresh and excellentworks with brimming modern taste created by his sound skills in wood turning technique that is used to create wooden objects on a rokuro (woodturner) while a cutting knife is used to cut and shape it, together with hisoriginal artifice into which traditional marquetry technique and sujibiki technique are incorporated. His main works are Keyakidukuri-Katamoriki, Jindai-Keyaki-Moriki, Kurogakidukuri-Gousu, Tamatsubaki-Moriki, all of which are excellent works where beauty of the material is maximized.
99% of Japan’s gold leaf is made in Kanazawa, Ishikawa Pref., which is due to the fact that climate and water in this area is suitable for gold pounding and that the producing places of Buddhist family altars and lacquered ware, for which gold leaf is consumed in high volume, are close to this city. A gold leaf is 1/10,000 to 2/10,000 mm thick, which is almost transparent. It is said that a piece of gold sized as large as a ten-yen coin can be thinned out into a sheet as large as a tatami-mat. A gold leaf must be uniformly flat without breaking or tearing. Imai Gold Leaf Co., Ltd. established in 1898 is Japan’s only one gold leaf trading company that has its own factory. It deals in other metal leaf such as silver leaf, platinum leaf and edible gold leaf as well. The company has handed on the traditional technique and tries to pass it on to the posterity, pursuing the beauty of gold leaf. In the showroom of the company, the hands-on-experience section is provided for the customers to know the charm of the gold leaf “with their own eyes and heart.”
The Maezawa Go-Board Shop was established close to 130 years ago, and is one of the oldest shops in Japan to specialize in go and shogi boards. The shop first opened its doors to customers in the early Meiji period. The founder was a craftsman from the Edo period, and it is recalled even to this day that his unrelenting intensity and rigour when carving go and shogi boards was tremendous. The current shopkeeper Michio Maezawa is the fourth generation. The distinguished craftsmanship that the shop has been famous for sees no signs of abating even now in the Heisei period, and proves that the skills passed down from great grandfather, grandfather and father, have been rightly inherited. As it always has been, the craftsman completes every single piece of work by hand, investing many hours and much of his soul. The material for the board comes from Japanese kaya, which is strictly hand picked by the craftsman himself. The kaya is stored for over 10 years and even then only the one most right for crafting is chosen by the master. The intense selection that the boards go through means only the finest of quality is offered. The go-board that is currently used during the Fukasogi Ceremony of the Imperial Palace is one that had been presented by the Maezawa Go-Board Shop during the 39th year of the Showa period.