The roots of this craft go back to Hayashi Matashichi. With the support of the local feudal lord Hosokawa and his family, Hayashi was doing inlaid metal work on firearms and sword guards during the first half of the 17th century. Subsequently, as this craft became established, fine Higo sword guards were produced by generation after generation of the Hayashi family as well as by other families such as the Hiratas, Nishigakis, Shimizus and Kamiyoshis right through the Edo period (1600-1868), and many pieces of their work are still in existence. When the carrying of swords was outlawed in 1876, the Higo craftsmen turned their hand to decorative work and began making everyday items in line with the new social conditions.
Kasukabe Paulownia Chests
At the beginning of the Edo period (1600-1868), craftsmen who had gathered to build the Toshogu Shrine in Nikko, took up residence in Kasukabe, an inn town along the old Nikko post road. It is said that these craftsmen were responsible for starting this craft by making cabinets and small articles out of paulownia taken from the surrounding area.
Kawatsura Lacquer Ware
The beginnings of this craft go back to the Kamakura period (1185-1333), when the younger brother of the lord of the fief who ruled this area, ordered the retainers to take up lacquering pieces of armor and weaponry as a job, using locally tapped lacquer and Japanese beech cut from the mountains in the area. The making of bowls began in earnest in the middle of the Edo period (1600-1868) and by the end of the period work was concentrated on the three districts of Kawatsura in what is now Inakawa-cho, Odate and Minashi and the making of everyday pieces of household goods flourished in what had become a production center.
Gifu Chochin were first made by Juzo, a lantern maker in Gifu and the abundant supply of local bamboo and paper contributed greatly to the development of the craft. It seems that lanterns with similar features to those available today were in general circulation around the first half of the 19th century, and while some were used for the Obon festival or Festival of the Dead, others were simply lit to enjoy the coolness of a summer evening.
Early in the 17th century, Hagiwara Kiuemon, a resident of a small village in Uchiyama district went to learn how to make paper in Mino, itself famous for its handmade papers. On returning home, he began making paper and from these simple beginnings, the craft flourished in this area where the heavy snowfalls have contributed to the techniques of this fine handmade paper.
Although disputed, it seems likely that Karatsu Yaki was being made in this area even before the 1592 campaigns to Korea. The name is abbreviated from a ware made in the area of Matsuura where there were a number of kilns producing Taku kokaratsu, Hirado kokaratsu, and Takeo kokaratsu. It was, however, the ware from the Matsuura kokaratsu kiln that finally gave its name to this particular style of pottery.
Hida Shunkei Lacquer Ware
The origins of this distinctive lacquer ware were the result of a chance discovery. At the beginning of the 17th century, a head carpenter who worked on the building of temples and shrines in the castle town of Takayama, was surprised to find that when he literally peeled a piece of sawara cypress apart, it produced an interesting textural effect. He made it up into a tray and lightly lacquered the surfaces.
Although this craft dates back to before the Heian period (794-1185), the making of pottery began in earnest when the capital of Heian-kyo (now Kyoto) was founded in 794. Since that time Kyoto has been the home to many famous potters and the birthplace of many fine pieces of work.
Tokyo Plain Dyeing
From the middle to the end of the Edo Period, dyehouse artisans in these regions developed the craft of plain dyeing fabric in Edo-violet, indigo, safflower red, Edo-brown, and other colors. The main feature of this dyeing style is its color harmonization achieved through repeated dyeing.
It was not until the latter part of the Edo period (1600-1868) that Owari Shippo got its start. The area centered on present-day Nagoya was the domain of the Owari clan. The first pieces were made here and the skills and techniques of this craft gradually became established. The oldest piece of authenticated Owari Shippo is a sake cup made in 1833.
Tsubame Beaten Copperware
Beaten copper work really began in the Tsubame area during the middle of the Edo period (1600-1868) when specialists from Sendai in present-day Miyagi prefecture come to the area and passed on their skills. Kettles were some of the first articles made using copper from a locally mined source.
The first porcelain to be produced in the Kutani area was in the 17th century, when a member of the Kaga clan, Goto Saijiro, who had studied the techniques of making porcelain in Arita in northern Kyushu, set up a kiln making Kokutani ware, a suitable porcelain clay having been discovered in the area.