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Hikone’s Traditional Crafts

Travel Reporter
Ashley Davis (USA)
Kara Trausch (USA)
Elena Szost (USA)
Date
20, February, 2015

On the coast of Lake Biwa is the thriving city called Hikone that continues to maintain its long with standing traditional roots. One of the prime examples of this is the art of crafting Butsudan (Buddhist altars).

  • Hikone’s Traditional Crafts

    We started off at Nanamagari where we were introduced to the history behind the craft.

  • Hikone’s Traditional Crafts

    This is one of the numerous designs available at Nanamagari. There are so many intricate details that one may not catch the first time!

  • Hikone’s Traditional Crafts

    Additionally, they produce other handmade goods ranging from rosaries to fans to containers that are perfect for cookies!

  • Hikone’s Traditional Crafts

    Next, we walked to one of the workman's studio. This one being the chaser.

  • Hikone’s Traditional Crafts

    Here is the chaser's studio where he uses over 700 tools to carefully pound out the delicate metal work for the Butsudan.

  • Hikone’s Traditional Crafts

    The craftsman is showing us his process that includes doing much more than just metal work.

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    This includes free handing his own designs. After which, he patiently adds complexity to the design until it is finished.

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    This artisan has been working for about 40 years!

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    These pieces are but a few of what he can do.

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    We're really thankful that he has allowed us into his work place and taught us so much about being a chaser.

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    Back at the shop once more, we were able to see one more variation of their crafts, that being sculptures of Buddhas. Although they might seem simple, they seem just as complex to create as the Butsudan.

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    Upstairs, there was another workshop dedicated to the making of Butsudan, Makie Gold Powdering.

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    For us, the Makie craftsman prepared three popular designs; Mount Fuji, Sakura blossoms, and Hikone's very own character "Hikonyan"! Nyan!

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    Beforehand, however, the master must carefully sketch out the intended design and transfer it to another board.

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    Here he is explaining how to use properly use the brush and to apply the lacquer.

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    Carefully, we tried out the art for ourselves.

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    One of the personal works of the master, this lacqured cover, took about three days to make using not only the techniques we learned, but also gold dust and delicately arranged sea shells,

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    After painting, one slowly adds the gold dust on top of the design. Unfortunately, we learned that if you are not patient, the design will smudge.

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    With his help, we finally created our own Makie pieces!

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    Finally, we arrived at the restaurant "Shiruman" that dates back from over 400 years ago and has various items from the Edo period.

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    Our table itself was in fact a door all the way from the Edo period. We were so happy to receive so much delicious food.

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    This is Elena's first time eating tempura! We were all very grateful for this wonderful experience.

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Travel Reporter