What is the difference between "Traditional crafts" and "Traditionally created crafts"?
In Japan, there are two similar but different conceptual terms: "Traditional crafts" and "Traditionally created crafts".
"Traditional crafts" and "Traditionally created crafts". I would like to explain what the differences are.
What are "Traditional crafts"?
Traditional crafts are items used in daily life that are made by hand by craftsmen and artisans mainly using traditional techniques and skills.
Currently, there are more than 1,300 items of crafts designated by each prefecture in Japan.
There is no unified definition of designation, and each municipality has its own definition.
In addition to prefectural designations, there are crafts designated by cities as well as crafts that have not been designated but have been handed down in the local community.
Among these traditional crafts, here are three selections that caught my attention.
Traditional Crafts Introduction ① Neko-chigura (Niigata and Nagano Prefectures)
"Chigura" means basket in Niigata dialect. Neko-chigura is a place for cats to sleep. It is a so-called cat house.
Nekochigura (Niigata Prefecture, Nagano Prefecture)
Neko-chigura, which is made by knitting rice straw, has excellent heat retention, moisture retention, and breathability, making it a great way for cats to stay comfortable all year round.
Traditional Crafts ② Takasaki Daruma (Gunma Prefecture)
Daruma is a traditional Japanese doll.
The Takasaki region produces 80% of all Daruma dolls in Japan. The off-season winter climate, especially the dry wind, was ideal for Daruma doll making, and the business flourished as a sideline.
Takasaki Daruma (Gunma Prefecture)
With a crane on the eyebrows and a tortoise from the nose to the mustache, it represents two auspicious animals and is also called a "lucky daruma".
Most of the Daruma dolls used in elections, in which the left eye is placed when running for office and the right eye when winning, are also Takasaki Daruma dolls.
Traditional Crafts Introduction ③ Ryukyu Glass (Okinawa Prefecture)
Ryukyu glass is characterized by beautiful colors and bubbles reminiscent of the image of Okinawa.It is said to have begun in the middle of the Meiji Era (1868-1912).
Ryukyu glass (Okinawa Prefecture)
After World War II, there was a shortage of glass as a material. Therefore, when it was made by reusing empty bottles discarded by the U.S. military, bubbles were generated due to impurities and other factors.
Normally, this would be considered a defective product, but it has come to be appreciated as a unique and attractive feature, and is now a popular souvenir of Okinawa.
What are "Traditionally created crafts"?
Traditionally created crafts are crafts that have a history of 100 years or more, and have been designated by the Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry, meeting such conditions as "the main part of the manufacturing process is handmade," "manufactured using traditional techniques," and "made from traditionally used raw materials.
As of November 16, 2022, 240 items of crafts have been designated. Compared to traditional crafts, these are much fewer.
Traditionally created crafts, among many other traditional crafts, may be said to be the chosen ones that meet the country's strict standards.
|Industry||Number of items||Industry||Number of items|
|Woven and dyed textiles||38||Washi paper||9|
|Dyed crafts||13||Writing tools||10|
|Other textile crafts||5||Stonework||4|
|Ceramics||32||Semiprecious stone craftwork||2|
|Lacquerware||23||Dolls and kokeshi||10|
|Wood and bamboo crafts||33||Other crafts||22|
|Metalwork||16||Materials and tools for making crafts||3|
|Buddhist altars and articles||17|
Takumi Japan handles many traditional crafts, and we have selected a few of them to introduce to you.
Traditionally created crafts Introduction ① Yamagata cast iron (Yamagata Prefecture)
Yamagata cast iron looks very dignified, yet thin-walled and delicate, thanks to careful work by craftsmen who create unique molds and press patterns into them. It is characterized by its beautiful texture.
Many of the tea kettles used in the tea ceremony are this Yamagata cast iron.
Iron kettle Mt.Fuji and cherry blossom 1.5L ／ Iron kettle Natsume shape Small 1.0L (Yamagata cast iron)
It is common for iron kettles to be heavy, but many thin-walled Yamagata cast iron kettles are light in comparison to their size.
The lighter the iron kettle is, the easier it is to handle, which is especially appreciated by women.
Yamagata's cast metal manufacturing began in the middle of the Heian period (794-1185). Starting with Buddhist altar utensils and daily necessities, it has expanded to include tea kettles and iron kettles, and now also includes building materials and machine parts.
Traditionally created crafts ② Kutani Ware (Ishikawa Prefecture)
Kutaniyaki is famous for its colored porcelain. The colorful decorations painted with five different colors of paint, known as "Gosai," are the symbolic style of Kutaniyaki.
Rectangle pendant, Some-nishiki pattern, Hand-printed / Flower vessel, Fukizumi colored glaze pot, Lotus and Kingfisher (Kutani ware)
The colors are rich and bright.
Traditionally created crafts Introduction ③Beppu Bamboo Crafts (Oita Prefecture)
Bamboo is hard, resilient, and splits lengthwise, making it suitable for processing to make material bamboo strips and for weaving to make handicrafts.
Resistant to dryness and humidity, it has been used to make kitchen utensils, daily necessities, flower baskets, tea ceremony utensils, farming tools, and fishing equipment.
Oita Prefecture has established a bamboo crafts training center, Japan's only school specializing in bamboo crafts, and is focusing on training successors.
Traditional Japanese crafts loved by people in Japan and abroad
Now that you know the difference between "Traditional crafts" and "Traditionally create crafts," what do you think?
In any case, both are things that we hope will be handed down for many years to come.
Takumi Japan is committed to introducing to the world, as well as to Japan itself, the appeal of objects that are filled with the wisdom, spirit, and skill of our ancestors, and that are the result of the careful handiwork of artisans.
Please visit Takumi Japan's website and take a look at those fine products.
▼Takumi Japan official website