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Five Select Traditional Crafts from Nagasaki Perfect for Souvenirs

Nagasaki in Kyushu has developed a unique culture based on its long history as a port for international trade. With a variety of traditional crafts produced in each area, there are many outstanding products created by the artistry of craftsmen. So this time, we introduce five select traditional crafts that are perfect as souvenirs.

2018.04.12

1. Mikawachi-yaki

First on the list is Mikawachi-yaki, a traditional craft of the country that is produced in Sasebo City. They are delicate and refined luxury chinaware that have often been presented to the Imperial Family and Shogunate. They are characterized by blue designs drawn with a dye called "gosu" on white porcelain. The "sukashibori" method of creating designs with the point of a small sword or knife and a pattern called "karakoe" are also unique to Mikawachi-yaki. Major items are tableware, incense holders, sake containers, vases, and tea vessels. There is a wide selection of unique works with modern elements.


© Nagasaki Prefecture Convention and Tourism Association

2. Hasami Ceramic

Hasami Ceramic (Hasami-yaki), a local specialty of the town of Hasami, has recently attracted attention on social media. They are ceramics with indigo blue patterns that are in perfect harmony with the white porcelain that appears almost translucent. They are designated as a traditional craft of the country. The secret to their popularity is their affordable prices, despite being high quality products with a long tradition. Prices can be as low as 300 JPY for one item. In particular, the Maruhiro brand products, which are popular around the country, are definitely worth checking out. There is a variety of products with stylish and modern designs. The town of Hasami holds a Hasami Ceramics Festival in the spring every year, where approximately 130 pottery houses and shops present their ware, so be sure to keep an eye out for it.


© Nagasaki Prefecture Convention and Tourism Association

3. Wakata Ishisuzuri

Wakata Ishisuzuri, which is a local specialty of Tsushima City, is a suzuri (a tool for grinding solid ink with water) with a long history, dating back to the Heian period (794 - 1185). It is an outstanding product that grinds the ink smoothly to produce clear colors, and has been a favorite of many calligraphers. It is made with quality local stone and kept free of elaborate carvings to retain the natural texture of the stone. It is handmade by skilled craftsmen, avoiding the use of machinery as much as possible. Its jet black color with bluish hues, specks, and streaks all add to its beauty, making it popular as a decorative item.


© Nagasaki Prefecture Convention and Tourism Association

4. Sasebo Koma

In Nagasaki Prefecture, each region has its own unique koma (spinning top) as a regional toy. The most representative is the Sasebo Koma of Sasebo City. It is a toy that is used in a game called Kenka Koma (fighting koma), where two koma are spun to strike each other. The Sasebo Koma is made in the shape of a Chinese onion from Japanese stone-oak, and is distinguished by its beautiful exotic colors. It is also known for the use of a special diamond-shaped iron core called "ken". Each koma is handmade by skilled craftsmen.



© Nagasaki Prefecture Convention and Tourism Association

5. Koga Doll

The Koga Doll is a local toy from the town of Koga in Nagasaki City. It is a "tsuchi-ningyo" (clay doll) made using a method that has been handed down in the Ogawa Family for approximately 400 years, and is considered to be one of Japan's three main tsuchi-ningyo, together with the Fushimi Doll of Kyoto and Tsutsumi Doll of Sendai. It is characterized by the dramatic use of primary colors on a rustic and simple doll. Many of its dolls have exotic themes such as the Acha-san (meaning Chinese in the Nagasaki dialect), Holland-san, Western Lady, and Daimyo Horse. All Koga Dolls are made by hand, from molding to coloring. These handmade dolls have a comforting feel that will warm your heart.


© Nagasaki Prefecture Convention and Tourism Association


© Nagasaki Prefecture Convention and Tourism Association

These are all outstanding products, created painstakingly by skilled craftsmen. Be sure to get some as special souvenirs from Nagasaki to remember your trip by.

*Please note that the information in this article is from the time of writing or publication and may differ from the latest information.

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Writer: iizuka

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