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CRAFTS OF JAPAN

Traditional crafts made by using Japanese traditional techniques have been handed down over the centuries.

There are many traditional crafts of Japan that are deeply rooted in its land, climate, and culture. Many of the materials for them are derived from Japan’s rich natural environment, including its forests, mountains, and sea. This is an introduction of some traditional Japanese crafts made one piece at a time by the hands of master craftspeople.

“Kokeshi” wooden crafts

Wooden dolls known as “kokeshi” have existed in Japan since ancient times. First believed to have been made around the year 700, kokeshi dolls have a simple shape with a round head and cylindrical body. Although their popularity had declined for a time, today there is a growing number of fans known as “Kokeshi Girls” in Japan, who visit areas across the country famous for these dolls, and collect kokeshi made by their favorite craftspeople.

In addition, their popularity is also gradually spreading overseas with activities such as a collaboration between kokeshi dolls and the popular apparel brand BEAMS known as “Indigo Kokeshi,” and projects finalized with fashion brand Paul Smith.

“Yakimono” pottery passed down from ancient Japan

Pottery items are commonly used in everyday life, but in Japan earthenware has been excavated that was made around 16,500 years ago, showing that it is a traditional craft used in the lives of its people since ancient times.

“Yakimono” pottery is classified into four categories: doki (earthenware), touki (clayware), sekki (stoneware), and jiki (porcelain), according to their properties. They are used for various purposes such as tableware, cups, vases, and dolls, taking advantage of their respective characteristics. Each region in Japan has its own unique designs and coloring for pottery, and there are as many as 31 types that have been designated as national traditional crafts.

Representative types of Japanese yakimono

Pottery pieces are also popular as souvenirs for tourists from overseas. In foreign countries they are not used as tableware, but as containers for small items, and as part of interior design or for personal hobbies, such as by filling pottery bowls with wool balls as ornamental pieces.

Arita ware

Characterized by paintings made on nearly transparent white porcelain. They can have various types of overglaze ranging from solid blue to an assortment of colors.

Mino ware

Has a history dating back 1,300 years, and accounts for the largest amount of tableware produced in all of Japan, with a 60% share.

Kutani ware

Characterized by a heavy overglaze painted with traditional Japanese paint in colors such as green, yellow, red, purple, and dark blue.

Shigaraki ware

One of the “six ancient kilns” of Japan. It is well known for figurines of tanuki (raccoon dogs), which became famous after the Emperor Meiji composed a tanka about them.

Nambu ironware (Nambu Tekki)

In Japan, Nambu ironware had the image of only being used for tea ceremonies, but now these items are popular overseas. The secret to their popularity is that if water is boiled in a Nambu iron kettle, the hot water becomes milder in flavor. It is said that doing so can enhance the taste not only of Japanese tea, but also of black tea and Chinese tea. It also makes it possible to take in iron ions dissolved from the contact between bare iron metal and water, as a supplement for iron deficiency.

Nambu ironware pieces are high in price because craftspeople make each individual item carefully by hand, and they require time and effort for care to prevent them from rusting. However, the more they are used the more they will be able to draw out delicious flavor, and they will last for decades, so they are especially popular in European countries.

There are also many other traditional crafts in Japan that have been passed down since ancient times.

You may be able to find hidden treasures not that well known outside of Japan from companies listed on Alibaba.com, so how about trying to search for some?

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