When most rooms in Japanese houses had tatami floors, an easy daily cleanup was done with broom and dustpan. Sweeping removed dust quickly and was a simple activity that kept everyday life clean.
Such scenes are seen less and less often these days, but is this a good thing, even though our lifestyles are getting more diverse? Just to clean up a small space, we have to pull out a vacuum cleaner, use it for a short period, then put it back.
Bearing this in mind, why don't you keep a broom and 'harimi' (paper dustpan) in your room? A harimi is made from Japanese paper coated with persimmon tannin, and the size is about 20cm. The color of a harimi is appropriate and it will fit in with any kind of room. The size is quite small and it does not appear jarring.
Daily tools like a harimi look wonderful, even when left lying around in a room. Moreover, a harimi is very useful when used with a small broom for little spaces such as desktops and shelves.
Toyooka willow basketry is hygroscopic, moss-proof, and light in weight, and takes on more relish as it is used longer. Making of this willow craft has been handed down in Toyooka City and Yofu City, Hyogo Pref. for as long as 1,200 years. The craft dates back to the Nara period (710-794), and there is a willow basketwork box among the treasures at Shosoin Repository in Nara.
The area around the Maruyama River in Toyooka Basin was suitable for growing Salix koriyanagi, so farmers in this area started to make basketwork items during their agricultural off-season. Until about 40 years ago, it was common to pack personal belongings in a willow basket and send it by rail when young men go up to Tokyo from their hometown. However, willow baskets were replaced by plastic products with high economic growth. At the present time, these baskets have gained popularity again among the people who are interested in using traditional items with a new taste, mainly for interior decoration.
Namioka Castle was built by the Namioka Kitabatake Clan in the 1460s. The clan prospered in the early 1500s when it interacted with Kyoto and built temples and shrines.
But trouble within the clan in 1562 weakened their power base and in 1578 Ora (Tsugaru) Tamenobu attacked them and the castle fell. For the following 400 years, the castle remains were used as fields for growing rice, etc. On 10 February, 1940, the castle was designated as Aomori prefecture's first national historical site.
The castle's 8 buildings originally spread out like a fan, and were divided by dual moats 20m wide and 5m deep. There were pathways on clay walls. These unique constructions were intended to make the castle more maze-like and to protect it from enemies.
Moreover, more than 40,000 excavated articles have been found on the site, including dishes, cooking equipment, weapons, agricultural tools and artefacts for everyday and religious uses as well as architectural relics.
Katsuyama bamboo basketry is a practical form of craftwork made in Katsuyama, Maniwa city, Okayama Prefecture. The derivation of this craft is unknown, yet it was originally called “Bam boo basketry of Tsukita”. Its most representative piece, the “souke” basket has been used for a long time. From bamboo work such as “cho zouki”, we can deduce that the basics were established in the late-Edo period. In 1979, Katsuyama basketry was designated as a Traditional Form of Craftwork. In addition to the sweet odor of the bamboo and the beauty of the woven bamboo, it has the attractions of fine skill, usability in daily life, and the synthesis of beauty and craftwork. The basketry is mainly made for agricultural and kitchen usage. This practical craft has continued to be made since the creation of the “souke” and “Meshizouke” baskets. Also, it is nice to see the bamboo basketry after it has been varnished and turned a candy color with continued use.
Tsugaru bamboo basket is a traditional handicraft of Aomori Pref. Its unique network is very impressive. This handwork has a history of about 200 years, but mass production of the baskets started only after this region established itself as a producing district of apples and a large quantity of baskets were needed for apple crops. The basket is made of durable Chinese zasa (Sasa kurilensis) obtained at the foot of Mt. Iwaki and Mt. Hakkoda in this region. Its network features the rustic appearance created by typically hexagon large meshes. At present not only apple baskets but also many other items such as baskets in a bowl shape or fruit baskets, which are favored as folk crafts. Its utility as daily goods and beauty as traditional handicraft are highly estimated and the craft was designated a prefectural Traditional Craft Product.
Echizen Japanese candle is a traditional handicraft of Echizen City,
specified as the folk craft product by Fukui Pref.. Most of its
making process is done by craftsmen’s manual fashion. This candle was first
made in the Edo period (1603−1867) and has come a long way as an essential
item to Buddhism services. As a wedding ceremony is called “a ceremony of
brilliant candles” in Japanese, the candles have been indispensable for
Japanese ceremonies. Since Echizen district has been known for religious
devotion, Echizen candles also have been refined along with its history. The
candle body is made from wax-tree, and the core from Japanese paper
specially made for the candle. The cross section of the candle looks like
tree rings. Echizen candle is characterized by its constantly changing flame
shape, for oxygen is constantly supplied through the center core. Shimmering
flames are hard to be blown off and emit little lampblack. Its unique shape
and red color can fit in every space and brightly enwrap its surrounding. In
modern times it is mainly used for Buddhist altars, but may also be good for
parties or interior decoration.
Sano City, Tochigi Pref. has been known as a producing district of iron works since old times and artistic handicraft cast iron works made in this area are called Tenmyo cast iron works. Its history dates back to about 1,000 years ago. Tenmyo iron ware is said to have begun when Hidesato Fujiwara, who had brought the Masakado’s rebellion under control in 939 and became the first castellan of Karasawa Castle, called five excellent iron workers from Kyoto to cast weapons. After the battles the ironworkers settled down near Sano area played leading roles in casting iron and began to make daily necessities, Buddhist altar fittings and tea ceremony kettles. Since then Tenmyo cast iron works had taken the way to its prosperity through the periods of the Heian, the Kamakura and the Edo handed down by generation to generation. The beauty of Tenmyo works including copper ware with beautiful red color, strong but elegant tea ceremony kettles and massive paperweights all fascinate people all over the country.
Zanpa ware is a traditional handicraft of Yomitan Village on the west coast of the central district of Okinawa Island. The name Zanpa comes from that of a scenic cape in the village. Zanpa ware is an earth ware, which is considered the oldest kind of pottery. After the clay is molded, it is fired around 800℃ without glazing. Its simple and beautiful texture created by the mixture of brown, blue and white reminds us of the color of the sea. Today not only conventional Shisa or vases, items such as tea utensils and bows are also manufactured. Zanpa ware is now favored as articles of folk handicraft as well as beautiful daily commodities.