Wood crafts

Thanks to its climate and terrain, Japan has a wide variety of trees. People have used the high-quality wood from these trees since ancient times to make dishes, boxes and so forth.
Woodwork is the craft of making artworks and useful items for everyday life that display the beauty of wood grain. A very important part of woodwork is choosing the right wood to use.

General Production Process

Techniques

photo Sashimono (Japanese wood joinery)

Sashimono (Japanese wood joinery)

The first step is to cut pieces of wood accurately, taking the combinations of wood grain into account. Then, wood is planed or carved away to create protrusions or indentations that act as joints, which are stuck together at right angles to make items such as boxes. Japanese wood joinery is done without using nails or any other metal hardware.

photo Kurimono

Kurimono

A piece of wood can be hollowed out with a carving blade or chisel. This technique gives you the freedom to create complex curved lines, surfaces, and round forms.

photo Hikimono

Hikimono

In this technique, you rotate a piece of wood on a lathe and apply a blade to create the shape you want. It is suitable for making circular trays, containers, bowls and so forth. A wide range of forms can be made depending on the way the blade is applied and the angle. Balanced, symmetrical forms are made by keeping the lathe spinning at a consistent speed.

photo Magemono

Magemono

There are two variations on this technique, one in which thin strips of wood are steamed to make them soft and then bent to create cylindrical forms, and one in which cuts are made in pieces of wood with a saw, almost all the way through but leaving a narrow strip behind, and then they are bent and joined to create polygonal forms.

"What Are Traditional Crafts? -A Guidebook to Seeing, Learning, and Enjoying-"
Edited by the Japan Kogei Association Eastern Branch. Published by Unsodo / List of works English translation: Kazuko Todate (Art critic / Art historian)

Bamboo crafts

Bamboo thrives in Japan's climate, and there are approximately 600 varieties growing, of which around 10 are used by artists. Bamboo is pliable and resilient, and does not break easily. Thanks to these properties, it has been used for everyday articles since prehistoric times in Japan, and today many bamboo works such as flower baskets and serving baskets are preserved among the treasures of Shoso-in Temple in Nara. The traditional techniques of bamboo craft are still in use today, and are used to make implements for the tea ceremony, ikebana flower arrangement and interior goods, as well as artworks that brighten people's lives.

How are bamboo crafts made?

Techniques

photo Amimono

Amimono

In bamboo amimono (plaiting), hundreds of thin bamboo fibers are plaited together to create forms. Various patterns and forms can be created by varying the widths and thicknesses of the bamboo strips. A wide range of plaiting styles are used to create works that convey pliability of bamboo and the beauty of the patterns it creates.

photo Kumimono

Kumimono

In this technique, multiple plaited elements are created and then joined together. A plaiting style called kushime-ami (comb-teeth plaiting), where fairly thick, strong strips are evenly spaced, is used to create the form, and then the edges are hemmed with rattan bark, to create each part. More complex and polygonal forms can be created with this technique, utilizing the straight lines and curves of bamboo.

"What Are Traditional Crafts? -A Guidebook to Seeing, Learning, and Enjoying-"
Edited by the Japan Kogei Association Eastern Branch. Published by Unsodo / List of works English translation: Kazuko Todate (Art critic / Art historian)

Works

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Famous local brand

photo Hakoneyosegizaiku

Hakoneyosegizaiku

Hakone Yosegizaiku, wooden marquetry articles, are produced and sold in Hakone Town, Ashigarashimo County, and Odawara City, Kanagawa Prefecture. The style is renowned for its meticulous, beautiful, and elaborate repeating geometrical patterns.

photo Iwayadotansu

Iwayadotansu

Iwayado Tansu, wooden chests of drawers, are produced and sold mainly in Oshu City, Iwate Prefecture. Their key features are the hand-carved metal and Nambu ironware fittings used as dignified adornment.