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TRADITIONAL CRAFTS

Miyagi

Ogatsu Suzuri

Ogatsu Inkstones

Writing tools and Abacus

The history of Ogatsu Suzuri is very old, and it is said that we sail up early in the Muromachi era.

The origins of the Ogatsu Suzuri can be traced back to the Muromachi period (1392-1573). Then, at the beginning of the 17th century, two inkstones were presented to the military commander, Date Masamune, who was on a deer hunt on Toojima, an island off the Ojika Peninsular. It seems that he was highly delighted with the stones and reciprocated generously.

Aichi

Toyohashi Fude

Toyohashi Brushes

Writing tools and Abacus

Late in the Edo era, feudal lord of Yoshida feudal clan which ruled area equal to current Toyohashi-shi invites craftsman of Kyoto as goyohitsutakumi (goyofudesho) making writing brush for feudal clan, and what recommended the making of writing brush as side business to lower grade samurai does by opening.

Toyohashi is situated at the center of the area which was once ruled by the Yoshida clan. Toward the end of the 18th century, the leader of the clan brought in Suzuki Jinzaemon from Kyoto, and he began making brushes for the clan. Gradually lower ranking samurai started this work and this marked the true beginnings of the craft in Toyohashi.

Mie

Suzuka Sumi

Suzuka Sumi Ink Sticks

Writing tools and Abacus

We burn produced pine in crowd of Suzuka early in the Heian era and take oil smoke, and what harden it with glue, and made sumi is informed with opening.

The making of ink sticks here is said to have begun at the end of the 8th century, when soot was obtained by burning pine that was cut from the mountains around Suzuka. An animal glue was then added to the soot which was dried and used to make ink.

Hyogo

Banshu Soroban

Banshu Abacus

Writing tools and Abacus

Abacus was handed down to Otsu from the end, Chugoku of the Muromachi era via Nagasaki.

Coming first from China, the abacus was brought to Otsu from Nagasaki toward the end of the Muromachi period (1392-1573). It was during the following Momoyama period (1573-1600), when Toyotomi Hideyoshi sieged Miki castle, that the people of this small castle town fled to nearby Otsu, where some learned how to make the abacus. When they finally returned to their homeland, they began making what became the Banshu Soroban.

Nara

Nara Fude

Nara Brushes

Writing tools and Abacus

When the empty sea crossed to Tang now approximately 1,200 years ago, be full of methods of the making of writing brush, and the history made with writing brush of Nara begins in having conveyed the technique to resident of Yamato country after having returned to Japan.

When the monk Kukai journeyed to China some 1,200 years ago, he made a study of brush making there and on his return, he passed on his knowledge to people living in the province of Yamatokoku that is now called Nara Prefecture. This marked the beginnings of brush making here.

Shimane

Unshu Soroban

Unshu Abacus

Writing tools and Abacus

It was in the latter half of the Edo era, and carpenter of Nitacho, Shimane made abacus which was wonderful as materials by willow oak, plum, soot bamboo produced in copybook on abacus which craftsman of Hiroshima made in this district.

Towards the end of the Edo period (1600-1868), a carpenter living in Shimane Prefecture obtained an abacus from Hiroshima made by a specialist and made a very good one using locally sourced oak, Japanese apricot and a smoked form of bamboo called susudake.

Hiroshima

Kumano Fude

Kumano Brushes

Writing tools and Abacus

When most of farmers whom life could not support went to Kumano district of Kishu equal to current Wakayama and Yoshino district of Yamato equal to Nara to work only by agriculture for the agriculture shut period in the Edo era and returned to hometown, we laid in stock of writing brush and sumi made in those districts and peddled. Kumano and ties of writing brush came out of such a thing.

During the Edo period (1600-1868), many farmers found life very difficult. When there was no farm work, peasants went off in search of work to the Kumano district in Kishu corresponding to present-day Wakayama and the Yoshino area of Yamato, which is now Nara Prefecture. On returning to their homelands they sold writing brushes and ink they had acquired from these places. Ultimately, this led to the making of brushes in Kumano.

Hiroshima

Kawajiri Fude

Kawajiri Brushes

Writing tools and Abacus

As for production center and the relation of writing brush, Kikutani high priest learned in three Sutras lays in stock of writing brush from Settsu Arima (current Hyogo) in the early 19th century, and it is said to be opening to have sold in private elementary schools of the Edo period.

It seems that the link between Kure and writing brushes dates back to when some brushes were acquired from a region of what is now Hyogo Prefecture by one Kikutani Sanzo at the beginning of the 19th century. The brushes were brought for use at the temples in the area and, as a result of this business, the advantages of actually making brushes during the slack time of the agricultural calendar were explained to the local farmers.

Yamaguchi

Akama Suzuri

Akama Inkstones

Writing tools and Abacus

Akama Suzuri has record dedicated to Tsurugaoka Hachiman-gu at the beginning of the Kamakura era. We were extended the market in each place in the middle of Edo era.

Records exist showing that an Akama Suzuri was offered at the Tsuruoka Hachimangu Shrine in Kamakura at the beginning of the Kamakura period (1185-1333). By the middle of the Edo period (1600-1868) these inkstones were being sold up and down the country.