Closely connected with the history of Kagoshima, there are documents verifying that just after the middle of the 19th century, the making of Miyakonojo bows was a thriving local craft and by the end of the century, many bow makers had been instructed in the craft by two generations of the locally residing Kusumi family. Blessed with plentiful supplies of locally obtainable raw materials, the craft developed and by the 1920s bows were being sold in East Asia. Although there was a fall in demand after World War II, at the height of production there were some 30 bow makers active in the area. It is now the country's only production center for bows, 90% of all bamboo bows being made here.Following an established pattern, there are seven joints of bamboo on the forward face and six on the inner face. Although the shape may differ according to who makes it, a good bow is thought to be one with a perfect balance between its upper and lower portions, and one to which consideration has been given to its center of gravity and the distribution of weight after the arrow has been shot. With 9 government recognized Master Craftsmen among them, there are now 15 people employed by 11 firms continuing this long tradition.
Makabe Stone Lanterns
Good quality granite found in the Makabe area of Ibaraki Prefecture has been used to make a variety of useful articles since ancient times. The actual working of stone in the area began around the end of the Muromachi period (1333-1568) with the making of Buddhist stone articles around Nagaoka in Makabe-cho. The earliest confirmed Makabe stone lantern stands in the temple compound in Makabe-cho. It was made by Kubota Kichibei in 1824, and he was responsible for establishing the skills and techniques of the craft.Special features of these lightly colored lanterns are their superb craftsmanship, the light touch of the beautiful carving and their sense of weightiness. They provide traditional Japanese gardens with an added quality and elegance, their special features being accentuated further by the moss which tends to grow on the stone. Apart from garden items, lanterns and other items are also made for use at shrines and temples. There are now 42 firms employing 86 people, among whom there are 23 government recognized Master Craftsmen sustaining this essential craft.
Okazaki Stone Carving
The origins of this craft date back to the latter part of the Muromachi period (1391-1573). It was during the following Momoyama period (1573-1600), however, that the lord of Okazaki castle brought in skilled stone masons from Kawachi and Izumi to carry out some improvements to the surrounding town and had stone walls and moats built. As a way of perfecting their skills and techniques these masons carved Kasuga style lanterns and hexagonal flat-topped Yukimi or "snow viewing" lanterns and it was these that became the prototypes for Okazaki's own stone-carving craft. By the beginning of the 19th century there were 29 stone carving workshops and by the end of the same century there were 50. Before World War II at its peak the town boasted 350 workshops, a number which of late has declined somewhat.The principal item made is the stone lantern. They are an intricate composition of both line and surface embodying a simplicity of both linear and curvilinear beauty. To this is added highly skilled decorative carving providing a delicate elegance to this carved stone craft. Pagodas in miniature are also made as are receptacles for water or plants. There are now 22 firms employing 161 people sustaining this worthy stone craft.