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Suruga Takesensuji Zaiku (bamboo ware)


Along Abe River and Warashina River in Shizuoka prefecture, a lot of good Hachiku, a kind of bamboo which is used for craft making, have been produced. Since 2000 years ago, in Yayoi period (300 B.C. – A.D. 300), residents around this area have utilized bamboo for their lives.

The beginning of Suruga Takesensuji Zaiku, though, is in the early Edo period (1603-1867) when samurais lost their main jobs, battle. In the peaceful atmosphere, samurais who lost the opportunities to use their swords started cutting and shaving bamboo trees to make basket pillows.

Later in 1624, falconer officials in Suruga castle town started making woven hats and cages as their second jobs. Their handmade crafts made of thin bamboo sticks gained popularity.

Further later in 1840, Shimizu Ihee, a bamboo craftsman, was learned about rounded bamboo stick from multitalented artisan, Suganuma Ichiga, who was skillful in Japanese flower arrangement, tea ceremony, and handloom-weaving. Such rounded bamboo sticks were preferred since they do not hurt the feather of birds, feelers of insects, and skins of people.

The beauty and its carefulness was shown up at the Expo 1873 in Vienna, and drew a lot of attention from overseas as a main export goods of Japan.

Rounded bamboo stick is produced after a lot of steps. Ordinary bamboo crafts require cutting bamboos, boiling them to remove oils and dust, drying them, then cutting them into thin sticks. Then the thin sticks are made go through a small circle to be rounded. The thinness of the stick is expressed in the name “Sensuji”, meaning 1000 sticks within one tatami (approx. 90 cm, 35.45 inches).

To fabric cages and pillows, the rounded sticks are set to small bumps made on the bamboo sticks, which are carved for the desired form.

Most of all the procedures are done by one artisan, thus the shape and style can be changed freely. Rounded bamboo sticks, in addition to this flexibility, can add warmness of artisans.

Suruga Takesensuji Zaiku was designated as Traditional Craft by METI (Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry) in 1976.

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