woodwork in Edo

. shokunin 職人 craftsman, craftsmen, artisan, Handwerker .
Woodwork in Edo

Edo Moku-Chokoku (Wood Sculptures) 江戸木彫刻

Edo Moku-Hanga (Woodblock Prints) 江戸木版画

Edo Sashimono (Wood Joinery) 江戸指物

Kanda Kijichoo, kijimachi 雉子町 Kiji-Cho "pheasant district" wood-craft workers

himonoshi 檜物師 "artisan making things from Hinoki cypress wood"

. kigu shokunin 木具職人 craftsman making wooden ritual tables .


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Edo Moku-Chokoku 江戸木彫刻 Wood Sculptures

■ Traditional Technologies and Techniques
1- 下絵 - For three-dimensional sculptures, the design is drawn directly on all four working surfaces. When preparing to carve deep-set reliefs or other works, working surface designs are drawn on paper using charcoal or a brush, etc
2- 木取り - When selecting timber, the craftsman pays close attention to the working surface of the wood, the reverse side of the wood and natural features such as knots.
3- 彫り - Chisels and engraving knives are used for wood carving, there being a work progression from rough carving to medium carving, and then finishing work. When the craftsman does light-set reliefs or other work, the process commences with medium carving tasks.
4- 仕上げ - When doing three-dimensional sculptures or deep-set reliefs, finishing involves the planing of the work. For light-set reliefs or other work, finishing involves either planing or polishing with scouring rushes.

■ Traditionally Used Raw Materials
Zelkova, Camphor, Cypress, Sandalwood, Paulownia, Cherry, etc.

■ History and Characteristics
The history of sculpture is very old. According to one theory, sculpting as a craft commenced along with the arrival of Buddhism in Japan in around the 6th century.

From the Heian through the Kamakura Periods (approx. 794-1333), there were a lot of Buddhist statues carved. Over time there was also a transformation from delicate and beautiful works admired by the aristocracy, to a flourishing of works that embodied the perceived heroism and ethos of the military classes.

On entering the Muromachi Period (1336-1573), the aesthetic simplicity of Zen Buddhism which did not require statuesque iconography came to the forefront. Therefore, the demand for statue sculptures was dwarfed by the demand for sculptures of decorative taste that could be applied to the pillars and transoms of shrines and temples. This field of application saw rapid development. Furthermore, during the Azuchi-Momoyama and early Edo Periods, a master carpenter called Hidari Jingoro 左甚五郎 rose to prominence.

Concerning architectural sculpting, in that it was a trade originally engaged in by carpenters, during the Edo Period from among the ranks of the master carpenters there was born a new class of craftsman called miyachoshi 宮彫師 (literally "palace sculptors"). These artisans specialized in the carving of decorative reliefs.

Whereas sculptors of Buddhist statues had previously separated the use of chisels and carving knives, the work of this new class of craftsman focused on the use of chisels.

Concerning buildings resplendent with sculpture in the vicinity of old Edo, the Yomei-mon Gate of Toshogu Shrine in Nikko 日光 - 東照宮の陽明門 is but one example.

During the Meiji Era (1868-1912), as western buildings began to appear in Japan, craftsmen who had previously been involved in the production of Buddhist iconography and the decoration of shrines and temples began to turn their attention to the carving of decorations in the western style. In the Diet Building constructed in the early Showa Era, there is a masterpiece of sculpting that was executed by a team of 300 craftsmen over period of more than three years.

Various timber species including Zelkova, Cypress, Cherry and Camphor, etc., are used in sculpting. Furthermore, the quality of finished work is as much dependent on preliminary sketches as on the carving skills of the craftsman. If the intent is to sculpt work that is in good taste, then in addition to an understanding of pictures and writing, the craftsman also requires knowledge of a wide range of other topics such as the Japanese art of the tea ceremony 茶道 and flower arrangement 華道.

Edo Wood Carving / Japan Wood Carving Federation
- source : www.sangyo-rodo.metro.tokyo.jp

. Hidari Jingoroo 左甚五郎 Hidari Jingoro .


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Edo Moku-Hanga 江戸木版画 Woodblock Prints

■ Traditional Technologies and Techniques
1- 絵師 - Artist (drawing of art)
The original drawing, known as a hanshita 版下, is a simple draft on thin paper which is created using black ink only. In that multiple colors will be applied to the artwork one at a time during the printing process, one copy of the hanshita is required for each color to be used. Once a hanshita drawing is created for each color, those areas to which that color is to be applied when printing are indicated using a light vermilion shading. Such areas shall remain raised (uncarved during the carving process).
2- 彫り師 - Carver (woodblock carving)
A hanshita drawing is pasted to a woodblock and the woodblock is then placed on the carving table. A carver's knife is used to carve the picture from the inner portion moving outward (starting at the center). Finally a special orientation reference mark known as a kento 見当 is engraved into the block. The kento helps align each individual woodblock during the printing process. The carving process is repeated in order to produce a carved woodblock for each of the colors to be printed. The color-specific hanshita are used during trial printing.
3- 摺り師 - Printer (application of colors)
Color pigments dissolved in water are applied to the surface of a carved woodblock using brushes. Paper is then placed face-down over the inked woodblock, and a disk-like hand tool called a baren ばれん is used to apply pressure to and rub the reverse side of the paper. The color-specific woodblocks created during trial printing are used to apply colors one at a time.

■ Traditionally Used Raw Materials
Woodblocks (cherry wood), Japanese traditional paper (predominately made from paper mulberry),
color pigments (black, vermilion, red, green, purple, indigo, pink, gray)

■ History and Characteristics
The Moku-Hanga (woodblock print) has an especially long history in Japan. Among the artifacts of the Shosoin Treasure House in Nara Prefecture, there is a picture of foreign origin that depicts such printing processes being employed to print designs on clothing approximately 1,200 years ago.

Furthermore, a woodblock print known as Hyakumanto Darani 百万塔陀羅尼 ("One Million Pagodas and Dharani Prayers") was also produced at around the same time.

Woodblock printing first achieved general acceptance when the nation entered the Edo Period (1603-1868), as Hishikawa Moronobu 菱川師宣 (1631-1694) began to produce ukiyo-e prints. At around the same time, the separation of production skills into those of the artist, the wood carver and the printer also occurred.

Initially only simple prints were produced (works printed from a single woodblock using black ink only). Later on, a method was devised for using vermilion in order to create color prints called tan-e. The use of more complex colors became established as time passed. From around the Tempo Era (1716-1735), beautiful hand-painted pictures called urushi-e 漆絵 (lacquer pictures) and beni-e 紅絵 (rouge-red pictures) began to be sold in Edo's markets.

Around the end of the Kanpo Era (1741-1743), a method of printing two-tone pictures in red and green was developed. Then, in the second year of the Meiwa Period (1765), Suzuki Harunobu 鈴木春信 (1725-1770) developed nishiki-e 錦絵 (brocade pictures). This represented a high-water mark for woodblock printing, no-longer was it a case of printing in just two or three colors. Rather, polychrome printing in 10 or more colors had arrived on the scene.

Woodblock printing techniques then approached completion as artists such as Kitagawa Utamaro 歌麿 (1753-1806) and Sharaku 写楽 (details unknown) created prints that were both graphic and offered elaborate expressionism. Moreover, at the end of the Edo Period, the landscapes of artists such as Katsushika Hokusai 北斎 (1760-1849) and Utagawa Hiroshige 広重 (1797-1858) demonstrated thoroughly the colorful nature of woodblock prints.

Ukiyo-e hanga 浮世絵版画 (ukiyo-e prints) represent a form of artistic expressionism in which an artist 絵師, a woodblock carver 彫師 and a printer 摺師 come together to work as one. The artist draws the original drawing on a thin piece of washi 和紙 (traditional Japanese paper). Using a carver's knife, the carver then carves the drawing that has been affixed to a woodblock (usually cherry wood). The carver repeats this process for each color to be printed. The work is then completed by the efforts of the printer who sets the paper to the inked woodblock and then uses a baren to apply pressure to it.

Please note that modern creative hanga prints in which a single person completes all production processes are not considered to be part of the traditional Moku-Hanga (woodblock print) craft.

Tokyo Traditional Wood-Block Print Craft Association
- source : http://www.sangyo-rodo.metro.tokyo.jp

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beni-e 紅絵
A black-line hand-colored woodblock print ukiyo-e 浮世絵 that began to be produced after tan-e 丹絵, although of similar technique.
Beni 紅 (a tawny yellow dye extracted from petals of safflowers) was applied to a black print, sumizuri-e 墨摺絵, with the brush instead of tan 丹, which has is a less delicate pigment.
It is said that this method was originated by a printmaker, Izumiya Gonshiro 泉屋権四郎, at the beginning of the Kyohou享保 era (1716-36).
It once was grouped with benizuri-e 紅摺絵 an early form of colored print, but these are now considered separately.
Among others, Okumura Masanobu 奥村政信 (1686-1764), Nishimura Shigenaga 西村重長 (1693?-1756), and Ishikawa Toyonobu 石川豊信 (1711-85) used this method.
The coloring was sometimes used in tandem with lacquered black outline prints urushi-e 漆絵, in the Kyoho era.
The word beni-e was first used at that time and the technique is seen in pictures by Okumura Masanobu and Nishimura Shigenaga.
Color prints using beni are found mostly in the Kyoho to Horeki 宝暦 eras (1716-64) and are the main technique apart from urushi-e.
Few such works survive from later times. Although beni-e precede urushi-e, they are technically very similar and the distinction is sometimes obscure.
Today these two are generally distinguished by the use of lustered China ink sumi 墨, painted with a brush.
- source : JAANUS -


江戸指物 ー 下町職人の粋と意気

sashimonoya 指物屋 furniture maker

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Edo Sashimono 江戸指物 Wood Joinery

■ Traditional Technologies and Techniques
1- 板の接合 - Furniture joinery techniques used in the production of Edo Sashimono include hagitsugi 矧接 (butted joints), hashibame 端嵌 接 (tongue and groove joints), hirauchitsugi 平打接 (flat braid joints), kumitetsugi 組手接 (box joints) and tometsugi 留接(wedge joints).
2- 框(棒)の接合 - The jointing of furniture frames involves aikakitsugi 相欠接 (halving joints), hozotsugi ほぞ接 (tenon joints) and tometsugi 留接 (wedge joints).
3- 塗り - When Edo Sashimono is lacquered, the following techniques are used:
Fuki-urushi 拭漆: Raw lacquer is rubbed into the wood with a cotton cloth or brush and immediately wiped off before hardening. Repetition results in a coating that protects and strengthens the wood and highlights the beauty of its grain.
Roiro-nuri ろいろ塗り: A polishing technique giving a high gloss. It is carried out by rubbing with a very fine abrasive such as pulverized deer horn applied to a cloth moistened with lacquer.
Nuritate 塗り立 : A technique of applying a finishing coat of lacquer and allowing it to harden without subsequent polishing.
Mehajiki-nuri 目弾き塗り: The application of lacquer to open-grained wood like Paulownia or Zelkova in such a manner that it is repelled by the grain, which thus remains visible.
If decorated, techniques such as maki-e 蒔絵 (sprinkled pictures) and raden 螺鈿(mother-of-pearl inlays) are used.

■ Traditionally Used Raw Materials
The following types of wood are used in the manufacture of Edo Sashimono: Mulberry, Zelkova, Paulownia and Cypress. Other timbers with similar properties may also be used.
Natural lacquers are used. 漆は、天然漆とする。

■ History and Characteristics
"Sashimono" is a term derived from the traditional practice of using a woodwork ruler (or a "monosashi" in Japanese) to carefully measure timber materials in order to create box-shaped items of furniture, such being equipped with precise-fitting lids and drawers.

In Kyoto, the "sashimono" tradition enjoys a very long history, it being possible to trace the associated joinery skills back to the court culture of the Heian Period (approx. 794-1185). In those days, such furniture was made by hand by carpenters. The "sashimono" skills of dedicated "sashimonoshi" (specialized furniture joiners) evolved from the Muromachi Period (1337-1573) onwards, as furniture such as shelving, chests of drawers and desks all saw greater usage in samurai households. Furthermore, in accordance with the development of the tea-ceremony culture, it is said there was an increased demand for box-shaped items of furniture such as "sashimono".
Thus, the craft of the "sashimonoshi" 指物師 diverged from the carpentry profession along with a number of other artisan trades including "toshoji" 戸障子 (craftsmen of doors and shoji screens), "kudenshimiyashi" kuden shi miya shi 宮殿師みやし (宮大工) (craftsmen specializing in temple and shrine work) and "himonoshi" 桧物師ひものし or "magemonoshi" 曲物師 (craftsmen of bentwood products).

In Kyoto, "sashimono" developed into furniture that was used within the imperial court and among the aristocracy, as well as being used within the context of the tea ceremony. It was also loved as a genre whose designs touched on matters of elegance and simplicity.

By contrast, Edo Sashimono saw service with samurai families such as those of the Shogun and of the various daimyo (the feudal lords). Furthermore, much "sashimono" was made for the merchant class that rose from the middle of the Edo Period (1603-1868), and also for the use of Edo's Kabuki actors (in the form of theatrical chests).

The true spirit of craftsmen can be felt in Edo Sashimono in a number of ways. Firstly, there is the use of timbers with beautiful grains such as Mulberry, Zelkova and Paulownia, etc. Secondly, there is the skillful use of techniques even in locations that cannot be seen. Thirdly, there is an almost total absence of nails in the construction of "sashimono".

Behind the "sashimono" skills summarized as the arts of cutting, planing, sealing and carving, it is possible to feel the uniqueness of the craftsmen.

In that timber, derived from a living organism is what is used in the production of Edo Sashimono, the variety of unique adjectives such as "hardness," "sweetness," "dullness," "subtleness," "well-rounded," and "raw," etc., that could be used to describe the timber might be said to tell a story in themselves.

Edo Sashimono Cooperative Association
- source : www.sangyo-rodo.metro.tokyo.jp


. shokunin 職人 craftsman, craftsmen, artisan, Handwerker in Edo .

source : takeb777.at.webry.info

Kijichoo. Kiji machi 雉子町 Kiji-Cho "pheasant district" - wood-craft workers
(a pun with the sound of kiji 木地 plain wood)
now in 千代田 Chiyoda, 神田司町二丁目 Kanda Tsukasamachi second sub-district

Kanda Kijibashi bridge 雉子橋 Kiji-Bashi, now in 千代田区神田 Chiyoda ward

. kiji gangu 木地玩具 toys from plain wood .

kijishi 木地師 maker of wooden items, wood turner
kijiya 木地屋 dealer, vendor of wooden items

They made bowls and plates to eat food, trays and other things for the daily life of the people. Many of the items were round and they worked them on a rokuro 轆轤 artisan's wheel, that was equipped with a special blade
rokuroganna 轆轤鉋 Kanna blade tool to shave wood.

The wheel was moved by a helper who pulled on two strings attached to the tool. The strings were made from leather and later from strong vines.
The blades and hooks for shaving the inside of bowls had to be adjusted to the purpose, to the Kijishi had also to be a sort of blacksmith.

To get the wood for sturdy bowls many craftsmen had to climb into the mountain forests to get it. Above a certain hight of a mountain they were allowed to cut trees for their trade.


Other sources say Kiji-Cho was the hunting ground for pheasants, providing a favorite meat, of Tokugawa Ieyasu. There were also large cages to keep the birds.
He entertained the ambassadors from Korea with pheasant dishes during their visits in Edo.

source : National Diet Library.
Outside View of 雉子橋 Kiji-Bashi (Bridge)

Saito Gesshin 斉藤月岑, the ward representative (nanushi)
Edo Culture: Daily Life and Diversions in Urban Japan, 1600-1868
By Matsunosuke Nishiyama, Gerald Groemer
- source : books.google.co.jp -

Saito Gesshin 斉藤月岑 (1804 -1878) lived at Nr. 8 banchi 神田雉子町八番地.
He compiled all kinds of books about Edo.

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- source : daisuki-kanda.com/guide -

Kiji-Cho was also the home of the "bathouse" cum brothel, Tanzenburo 丹前風呂. This was erected before (zen 前) the grounds of the residence of (tan 丹)
Hori Tango no Kami Naoyori 堀直寄 丹後守 (1577 - 1639).

One of the ladies of these establishments called herself
Tanzenburo Katsuyama Tanzen Buro Katsuyama 丹前風呂勝山
三代目歌川豊国 Utagawa Toyokuni 3rd


himonoshi 檜物師 "artisan making things from Hinoki cypress wood"
also called magemonoshi 曲物師 craftsmen of bentwood products
kurimono 刳物 "bent things"

Since the 15th century, they were specialized in bentwood products and other wooden items for daily use
(造物 tsukurimono).
Bentwood items were made of thin plates of cypress, bent into containers for keeping rice, for example
magewappa and kept together with the bark of kaba 樺 birch trees or sakura 桜 cherry trees.
Apart from cypress wood, sugi 杉 cedar and maki 槙 Maki conifers was also used.
Tsukurimono were square instead of bent.
They used all kinds of blades to cut the wood. The small slips for the bark were made with a took called
mesashi 目さし (eye-opening knife).
They also made hishaku 柄杓(ひしやく)ladles,sanbo 三宝 stands for the altar,meshibitsu 飯櫃(めしびつ)rice containers ,oboke 苧桶(おぼけ),seiro 蒸籠(せいろう)bamboo steamers,furui 篩(ふるい)sieves and about 40 other things.

source : katodesuryohei desu

They worked in a hot enrivonment, because they needed fire (for hot water and heating metal frames) to soften and bent the wood. So in the summer heat they worked almost naked.
This was a kind of ijoku 居職 work done at the home of the craftsman.
The vendors of their products were called himonoya 檜物屋.

. magewappa まげわっぱ / 曲げわっぱ / マゲワッパ round bento box .

. hinoki 檜 or 桧 Japanese cypress .


. Legends and Tales from Japan 伝説 - Introduction .

In Osaka 大坂立売堀中橋町
there lived a Himono maker in a rented shop. Once around 1655 there was a tremblor around six in the morning and then water from the sea welled up on his kitchen floor. When he wiped it off, it was soon back again. Next some fine earth came falling down from the ceiling. And something like a priest's ceremonial robe came down from the sky and hang on his roof.

In 富山県 Toyama, 備中国 Bitchu province
there lived a Himono maker with his daughter, O-Matsu. One night she came down with a high fever and the next morning, she had turned into a boy.

- source : yokai database nichibun -


. tansu 箪笥 / 簞笥 -- たんす chest of drawers, Kommode .
tansuya 箪笥屋 Tansu cest maker in Edo


Himonochoo 檜物町 / 檜物丁 Himono-Cho District in Edo
close to Nihonbashi - 東京都中央区八重洲一丁目・日本橋三丁目

The Eastern side of this district was the 外堀 Sotobori canal.

Following Tokugawa Ieyasu to Edo, the craftsman of Hinoki wood from Hamamatsu named
Hoshino Mataemon 星野又右衛門 settled here first in 1590 and became the headman of the craftsmen following him. His family held the title for many generations.

Another famous person who lived here was

. Tokiwazu Moji Tayuu 常磐津 文字太夫 Tokiwazu Mojitayu .
(1709 - 1781)
The was a narator and reciter of Joruri and began the Tokiwazu-bushi in 1747.
Jooruri 浄瑠璃 Joruri Bunraku Performance

. Himonya 碑文谷 Himonya district .
This is a very old district, dating back to the Muromachi period, when it was called
Himonoyoya 檜物屋 District of woodworkers with Japanese cypress
Now part of 目黒区 Meguro Ward.
Its name is a kind of pun with the sound and meaning of himon 碑文 meaning "inscription on a stone".


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. Japanese Architecture - cultural keywords used in haiku .

. shokunin 職人 craftsman, craftsmen, artisan, Handwerker .

. - Doing Business in Edo - 商売 - Introduction .

. senryu, senryū 川柳 Senryu poems in Edo .

- #woodworkedo #edowoodwork #tokiwazu #himonocho -

1 comment:

Gabi Greve said...

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