| Dec 18, 1999

Thickly lacquered with tradition

by Yuko Naito

As foreign merchants once linked products and countries (china from China, for example), the term “japanning” first appeared in a 1688 text by John Stalker and George Parker that described the superiority of Japanese lacquerware. However, the technique of applying lacquer on various objects ...

| Dec 4, 1999

Drumming up business for 300 years

by Yuko Naito

The first musical instruments humans ever invented were believed to be those of percussion. The oldest drum, discovered in Moravia, dates back to 6000 B.C. Taiko, or Japanese drums, are presumed to have emerged about 2,000 years ago, though the oldest evidence is a ...

| Aug 21, 1999

Fanning the flame for sensu

by Mami Maruko

When you open up a sensu (folding fan), or ogi as they are also known, a unique little world opens up in front of you. Sensu, which have come to be one of the traditional items most often associated with Japanese culture, come in ...

| Jul 17, 1999

You can judge a book by its cover

by Yuko Naito

Centuries ago in Europe, books were regarded as status symbols. Before printing became widespread in the 15th century, books had been luxuries only the privileged could afford. Having books meant the owners were not only wealthy, but also literate. Bookbinding began in the 4th ...

| Apr 24, 1999

Combing through antiquity for quality

by Kazuko Ide

Unlike in those days when everyone wore kimono, Tsutomu Takeuchi’s customers today are somewhat limited in number: hairdressers for sumo wrestlers, theatrical coiffeurs and makers of Japanese coiffure bridal wigs, and a few longtime aficionados. Takeuchi is the 14th generation proprietor of Jusan-ya, a ...

| Apr 10, 1999

The cutting edge of artisanship

by Yuko Naito

Edo-kiriko craftsman Shuseki Suda does not blink while engraving intricate lines on the surface of glassware. Sometimes he can even keep his eyes open as long as five minutes. “If I close my eyes, even if it is less than a second, I might ...

| Apr 3, 1999

Block-printed paper beauty

by Yuko Naito

Chiyogami is colorful handmade paper printed with Japanese traditional patterns or designs, and is usually used by girls for making kimono-clad dolls, small boxes, or bookmarks. Once you take a look at Isetatsu’s Edo-style chiyogami and the process of making it, though, you will ...