Update : January 29, 2019

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Kagoshima Craftwork


|Authentic Oshima Tsumugi Silk Fabric | Kawanabe Buddhist Altars | Satsuma Kiriko Cut Glass | Tin Ware | Satsuma-yaki PotterySake Set (Flasks and Cups to serve Sake) | Bamboo Products | Satsuma Boxwood Combs | Japanese Samurai Armor | Blades and Razor Tools | Tane-basami Scissors | Yaku Cedar Products | Traditional Local Toys |


Authentic Oshima Tsumugi Silk Fabric

The Oshima Tsumugi silk is meticulously produced by hand through a process with more than thirty steps.
With a dyeing method derived from Japan’s oldest dyeing technique, this beautifully colored woven fabric’s unique mud-dyeing technique and ikat patterns are its distinctive features.

Kawanabe Buddhist Altars

Kawanabe Town in Minamikyushu City has long had a close relationship with Buddhism as seen in the Buddhist images carved on stone walls, and the hidden Nenbutsu or Buddhist invocation.
The Buddhist altars made in this area are critically acclaimed for their splendor and durability. The seven steps of woodwork, engraving, altar, metalwork, lacquering, painting, and finishing touches, are done almost entirely by hand.

Satsuma Kiriko Cut Glass

Chinese overlaying colored glass techniques were fused with European glass cutting methods to produce this delicate and graceful cut glass masterpiece.
Developed by the 28th lord of Satsuma, Shimadzu Nariakira, the technique faded out with his death for a period. However, more than a hundred years later, the mysterious and beautiful sparkle was revived and came to be known nation-wide as a representative craftwork of Kagoshima.

Tin Ware

In 1655, tin was discovered in the suburbs of Kagoshima City. As the value of tin was on par with that of gold and silver at the time, it was an important financial resource for the Satsuma Domain.
As lifestyles changed after World War Two, demand waned, but its use has become popular again thanks to a special finishing technique called pear-skin finish and its soft luster and weighty feeling.

Satsuma-yaki Pottery

Refined and graceful White Satsuma, simple and warm Black Satsuma.
The crafting of Satsuma-yaki pottery began more than four hundred years ago, when Shimadzu Yoshihiro brought potters back with him from Korea.
There are kilns all over the prefecture, including Miyama, the original home of Satsuma-yaki pottery, as well as Kagoshima, Ibusuki, Kajiki, and Kirishima.

Sake Set (Flasks and Cups to serve Sake)

In Kagoshima, the kingdom of "authentic shochu liquor", there are many Satsuma pottery vessels for holding shochu liquor such as the Kuro-joka earthen pot for direct heating, or the liquor bottle with a spout known as Karakara. Among these vessels, Sorakyu has an especially unique shape. Due to its round bottom, when one drinks from this cup, one has to finish all of the shochu before it can be set down. Sorakyu was named after the toast, and is a combination of "Sora", meaning "here", and "kyu" meaning "bottoms up."

Bamboo Products

Kagoshima, with the greatest area of bamboo forests in Japan, has a long history with bamboo. Moso bamboo spread throughout the nation from Kagoshima, and it has been used here since ancient times for making everyday items such as baskets, sieves, and fishing tools.

This tradition is kept alive in a number of locations around the prefecture where bamboo is still used to make baskets, flower vases, rice wine caskets, pot hangers, chopsticks, screens, etc.

Satsuma Boxwood Combs

In the middle of the Edo Period (1603-1868), when the Satsuma clan was engaged in the Kiso River embankment project, lower ranking samurai of the clan began making boxwood combs to supplement their incomes. The popularity of these lovely combs can be seen in the lyrics of a contemporary song: "I want to become a comb, a comb from Satsuma, and be held by women from many countries".The final step in the production process is natural drying after soaking in camellia oil.

Japanese Samurai Armor

Kagoshima was the land of martialism and it was here that the production of armor and helmets once flourished until the Meiji Restoration when production ceased. In Satsumasendai City however, there is a company that manufactures and recreates traditional style armor with the intent of preserving this tradition.
This manufacturer is the leading manufacturer of samurai armor. Most of the armor used on movie sets such as "Kagemusha", "Ran", or the TV series "Tenchijin" and "Furin Kazan" was produced by this company. Additionally, their products are also used as ornaments for seasonal festivities and as housewarming gifts.

Blades and Razor Tools

In the Edo Period (17th century), Satsuma Domain (the old name for Kagoshima) was famous for its swords, such as the Naminohira blades. Even today, the Japanese sword making technique of applying soft iron over steel is still being used to produce blades and razor tools such as sickles, kitchen knives, scissors, etc.

Tane-basami Scissors

In 1543, a Portuguese ship introduced firearms to Japan. Also on this ship was a Chinese scissors blacksmith, who introduced and taught the techniques of making Chinese scissors to sword smiths in Tanegashima Island. The blacksmith industry originally flourished in Tanegashima due to the rich natural iron content of the sand. At its peak, more than 100 craftsmen were employed there, and their products were sold all over Japan. Tane-basami handmade scissors are sharp and practical, supported by the traditions and techniques that have improved over the years.

Yaku Cedar Products

The natural cedars of Yakushima Island are called "Yakusugi" only when they reach at least 1,000 years of age.
Although the soil on which cedars grow at 800m to 1,500m above sea level is poor, they grow slowly but steadily thanks to the abundant rainfall. As such, their tree rings are densely packed, and a fine, gorgeous grain is distinctive of Yakusugi products. Thanks to the abundant resin in the wood, the rich luster and pleasant fragrance last forever.
Fallen and discarded Yakusugi trees that lay buried in the ground are effectively utilized to make Yaku cedar products.
The fine grain can be enjoyed in a large variety of products such as decorative cabinets, tables, tea saucers, and trays.

Traditional Local Toys

Here in Kagoshima, there are many toys that bring back the warmth of traditional hand-made goods to our modern times. Pictured here is one of the traditional local toys found at the Kagoshima Shrine in Kirishima City, the "Tai-guruma" which is a pull along toy in the shape of a sea bream. This toy has its origins in the Umisachi-Yamasachi myth, in which Prince Yamasachi visited the palace of the Ocean God and removed a fishhook from the throat of a sea bream. Other popular toys include incense boxes and small drums.