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Perfect for Souvenirs! 5 Traditional Aichi Crafts to Buy in Nagoya

Something you should definitely know about if you're visiting Nagoya are the local traditional crafts. Here are 5 types you can buy while in Nagoya. Please pick them up and experience the quality and traditional techniques used to make them for yourself.

1. Arimatsu/Narumi Shibori

Arimatsu/Narumi shibori is a traditional craft of about 400 years. It's a tie-dyeing technique conceived in the Arimatsu and Narumi areas of Nagoya.
There are about 70 techniques used in this completely handmade craft like stitching it before wringing, or using tools like a roller in order to create various patterns. The dyed cloth is used to make items like kimono, yukata, interior decorations, and more. For souvenirs, tenugui (hand towels) or handkerchiefs are recommended items that you can easily find.

2. Tsugekushi

Tsugekushi are wooden combs that are known for having a fine texture and being gentle on the scalp that have been used since the Nara period (AD 710 to 794). It's said to antibacterial and helps against inflammation. The longer you use it, the more oil will be absorbed by the comb, turning it a darker color. You can enjoy the comb becoming unique to you.
The famous shop 「Kushitome Shoten」in Nagoya has been in business since 1903, and continues to make tsugekushi that are beloved by people like sumo wrestlers, kabuki and other theater actors, and more. There are other areas famous for tsugekushi around the country, but sumo wrestlers only use combs from this store.

2. Tsugekushi

3. Tokonameyaki

Tokonameyaki is a type of pottery made mostly in Tokoname and the surrounding area. This incredibly historical craft originated at the end of the Heian period (794 - 1185), and the kiln is famous as one of Japan's Rokkoyo ("six ancient kilns").
They have various products including tableware and tea-related items, but the most famous item is the reddish-brown unglazed small teapot called "kyusu." The pottery has a lot of iron in it, which is why it turns its characteristic color. The longer you use it, the glossier it gets, so it gets more beautiful with time. Also, if you use the kyusu to make tea, it removes the bitterness and makes the tea more mellow. It's definitely something you should buy to enjoy delicious tea at home.

3. Tokonameyaki

4. Nagoya Sensu

Nagoya sensu (folding fans) began when Kanzo Inoue and family moved from Kyoto in 1751. The Nishi ward of Nagoya continues to make folding fans using the same materials and techniques as in ancient times.
Nagoya is the second biggest producer of sensu after Kyoto, but Nagoya fans are known for being mostly aimed as gifts, for ceremonial use, or by men. On the other hand, Kyoto sensu have a luxurious image since they are used for traditional dance, tea ceremony, as decorations, and by women.
Creating these fans are split into 5 major processes from making the ribs to the folding, and each of them are performed by craftsmen specializing in that particular technique. Each of those techniques come together to create a single fan.

4. Nagoya Sensu

5. Toyohashi Brushes

Toyohashi brushes ("fude") have more than 200 years of history. They are a craft of the city of Toyohashi made with traditional techniques to produce high quality brushes for calligraphy, painting, makeup, and more.
There are about 36 processes to create one brush, and all of them are done by hand. They use a technique called "nerimaze," in which the when the hair is uniformly soaked in water to create a brush that takes ink easily. These brushes make up 80% of the national luxury calligraphy brush market! These are beloved by people all over Japan, especially calligraphers.

5. Toyohashi Brushes

All of these products can be found around Aichi as well as within Nagoya in souvenir shops, traditional handicraft stores, the airport, and more. Please take some home and experience the greatness of the techniques these craftsmen have honed!

*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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