Gifu lanterns, or Gifu paper lanterns, are a special product of the city of Gifu in Gifu Prefecture, Japan.
Gifu lanterns have a history of over three hundred years. In 1995, their high level of craftsmanship was recognized with a designation as a National Traditional Craft. The oldest historical documents we can read now about lanterns were written in the Muromachi period (1500 ‘s). After this period, until the Edo era, lanterns seemed mainly used in the upper class such as the royal family.
Yosegi is a type of traditional Japanese marquetry developed in Edo period Japan in the town of Hakone. Resembling a type of mosaic, yosegi is created through the combination of fine oblong rods of wood chosen for their grain, texture and colour, and is well-known for its intricately patterned nature.
Yosegi Zaiku marquetry, or wood mosaic, originated in Hatajuku in Hakone. The wood mosaic technique is said to have been created here by a man named Nihei Ishikawa in the late Edo period (1800s), and the craft has since been passed down from generation to generation.
Washi is traditional Japanese paper. The term is used to describe paper that uses local fiber, processed by hand and made in the traditional manner. Washi is made using fibers from the inner bark of the gampi tree, the mitsumata shrub, or the paper mulberry bush. As a Japanese craft, it is registered as a UNESCO intangible cultural heritage.
Papermaking was introduced to Japan more than 1,300 years ago. The Chronicles of Japan, Nihon Shoki, written in the year 720, state that the Chinese methods of making ink and paper were introduced to Japan by the Korean Buddhist priest, Doncho, in 610.
Washi is produced in a way similar to that of ordinary paper, but relies heavily on manual methods. It involves a long and intricate process that is often undertaken in the cold weather of winter, as pure, cold running water is essential to the production of washi. Cold inhibits bacteria, preventing the decomposition of the fibres. Cold also makes the fibres contract, producing a crisp feel to the paper.
The Japanese kimono is one of the world’s instantly recognizable traditional garments. Though kimonos are indelibly linked with tradition in Japan, they have more recently become a cult fashion item around the world. This coincided with a renewed interest in Japanese culture worldwide in the late 1990s. The kimono’s delicate patterns, sumptuous colours and striking silhouette suddenly appealed to a fashion-conscious generation who were keen to stand out from the crowd, especially on social media.
Originally, “kimono” was the Japanese word for clothing. But in more recent years, the word has been used to refer specifically to traditional Japanese clothing. Kimonos as we know them today came into being during the Heian period (794-1192).