Traditional Handicrafts

Tohoku is also a treasure house of varied traditional craftworks such as Nanbu Tekki (iron cast utensils), Magewappa (antibacterial wood container), Nanbu Sakiori (textile), Kokeshi (wooden toy), to name a few.

Some of the fine traditional craftworks have been handed down through many generations of artisans with histories of over 1,000 years. Even the origin of newer crafts is dated back 400 years ago, where feudal lords encouraged locals to evolve their crafts as a means to an end.

Kokeshi Doll originated from Tohoku and was sold as souvenirs to onsen visitors in the northern region. It was also a children’s toy in the olden days. The Kokeshi Doll is now valued as traditional Japanese folk craft which serves as a collectible ornament.

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Naruko Lacquerware has been around for centuries and its crafting technique was passed down from generations to generations. One significant technique used is the kijiro coating. Wooden bowls are painted with transparent amber lacquer that brings out the actual colour of the wood and tree that makes each wooden bowl unique.

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Magewappa was created 400 years ago in Odate City (Akita prefecture). It was mainly used as lunch boxes that were made from the highest quality of cedar wood. The wood was thinly shaved, boiled, bent and tied up with a outer layer of branches of cherry blossoms trees.

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Tendo is a town in Yamagata where it is home of Shogi, a Japanese board game resembling chess. Shogi consists of chess pieces made from wood that have Kanji characters written in glossy black paint.

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Akabeko is a famous craft and symbol of Aizu region of Fukushima prefecture. According to legend, Akabeko is originated from a real cow that helped built a temple and refused to leave after it was fully built.

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