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JAPANESE TRADITIONAL CRAFTS

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Takaoka Douki (copper ware)

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Copper wares produced in Takaoka city, Toyama prefecture is called Takaoka Douki. Currently, 95% of copper ware in Japan is produced in this city and the production ranges from the bells of Buddhist temples to small statues fit on one’s palm.

The secret of the popularity is the various casting techniques the artisans have developed and the carving techniques for decoration.

The development was started when the leader of Kaga domain Maeda Toshinaga (1562-1614) called 7 craftsmen for metal casting to Takaoka city.

They first produced pots and rice cooker for daily use, then began to respond to the requests from citizens to make various kitchen wares, Buddhist articles, and other everyday goods.

Later, they also began to create precise and elegant decoration by carving the surface of the metal. Such wares are called “Karakane Imono”, and became the trigger of the breakthrough of Takaoka Douki.

In Meiji era (1868-1912), the copper wares were introduced to the world at the Exposition Universelle de Paris 1867.

Regarding the production, there are mainly two steps, casting and forming. At the casting step, melted metal is poured into the mold and cooled down. After the cold metal is taken out, at the forming step, the copper ware is decorated by carving and painting.

Including the above two, there are 13 methods to create various types of copper wares such as vessels, incense burners, relieves, statues, and images of Buddha.

Takaoka Douki was designated as Traditional Craft by METI (Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry) in 1975.


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