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You’ll Want to Give them as Souvenirs! Top 5 Must-Buy Traditional Crafts in Shikoku

Shikoku is a region that produces a lot of traditional crafts through techniques that have been passed down from generation to generation since old times. Below are five such crafts that are perfect as souvenirs. These are all exquisite items that have been designated as national traditional crafts.

2018.03.01
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1. Awa Tesuki Washi (Tokushima Prefecture)

Awa Tesuki Washi (Awa Washi) is a kind of washi (Japan’s traditional handmade paper) that is mainly produced in the Yoshino River area in Tokushima. It is characterized by its color tones and softness to the touch that are unique to handmade papers, as well as its strength against water. This traditional craft with a history dating back more than 1,300 years is still being made by hand today. When creating this paper, it is extremely difficult to keep the thickness constant and to get rid of unevenness, so being able to make one is a manifestation of the superb skills of craftsmen. In recent years, a wide range of products based on Awa Washi are being made to cope with the times, including interior decors, stationery, business cards and coasters, and a lot of people love them.

1. Awa Tesuki Washi (Tokushima Prefecture)

2. Otani-yaki (Tokushima Prefecture)

Otani-yaki is a kind of pottery that represents Tokushima, as it is a tradition that is more than 200 years old. Using clay with high iron content, this craft is famous for its rough texture and subtle metallic luster. It is also known for the “ne-rokuro”, which is a unique manufacturing method that is applied when creating large ceramic pieces. In this method, one person lies on the floor to spin the wheel with his legs, while the other person forms the clay. Otani-yaki products are mainly large water jugs, but coffee sets, teacups, rice bowls, and other familiar items have also come to be made through this method of late. In particular, shuki (drinking vessel) that are made through this sophisticated technique are sturdy despite their extremely thin make, so they are definitely recommended.

3. Marugame Uchiwa (Kagawa Prefecture)

Made from thin bamboo frame covered in paper and other materials, “uchiwa” (fans) that create wind by hand movement are craft works that are said to be a typical feature of summer in Japan. Of these fans, the Marugame Uchiwa that is produced in Marugame City in Kagawa is the most famous. It is a fan that is made through 47 different processes, and each requires a brilliant technique of craftsmen such as in the adjustment of the paste concentration according to the thickness of the materials in order to ensure that the fan will not tear or break easily. This Marugame Uchiwa that is based on these traditional techniques currently accounts for 90% of the domestic market, and boasts the largest variety in terms of shape in all of Japan.

3. Marugame Uchiwa (Kagawa Prefecture)

4. Kagawa Shikki (Kagawa Prefecture)

Shikki (lacquer ware) is a representative product of Japan that has long been exported to Western Europe. One of the most famous lacquer wares is the Kagawa Shikki that is produced in Kagawa, centering on the Takamatsu City area. This region has come to produce a wide array of distinctive items thanks to the unique technique developed by Tamakaji Zokoku, a famous lacquer artisan in the 19th century. These wares enjoy increased “shibu” (astringency) and “aji” (taste) the more time you use them, creating a unique color tone. The richness in the variety of products of Kagawa Shikki is second to none, as so many products are created with this type of lacquer ware, such as tables, trays and cake boxes.

5. Tobe-yaki (Ehime Prefecture)

The last craft on this list is the Tobe-yaki that is produced mainly in the town of Tobe in Ehime. It is a kind of porcelain ware that puts emphasis on being handmade and hand-painted while using materials that incorporate locally produced pottery stones, and many people are enthralled by its unique texture. This craft is characterized by having a thin indigo blue design on white porcelain with the use of a pigment called “gosu”. Tobe-yaki products are mainly vases and tableware, but a wide variety of crafts for daily use have also emerged today. Young potters have also grown in number in recent years, so the world is now seeing more and more tobe-yaki wares with modern designs.

Aside from the above, Shikoku is also home to many other traditional crafts such as Tosa Washi in Kochi. You can purchase these crafts at souvenir stores and craft shops in those regions where they are made, so try to get your hands on them to feel their traditional techniques and quality.

*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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