New Designation of Gyoda Tabi Socks, Edo Oshi-e Embossed Fabric Pictures and Naniwa Honzome Hand-dyeing as Traditional Crafts under the Act on the Promotion of Traditional Craft Industries
November 20, 2019
The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) hereby announces that on November 20, 2019, it newly designated the following three crafts as traditional crafts as defined in the Act on the Promotion of Traditional Craft Industries (hereinafter called the “Act”): Gyoda Tabi Socks from Saitama Prefecture, Edo Oshi-e Pictures from Tokyo, Saitama Prefecture and Kanagawa Prefecture, and Naniwa Honzome Hand-dyeing from Osaka Prefecture.
1. New designation of traditional crafts
Concerning the new designation of the crafts mentioned above, on September 18, 2019, the Traditional Craft Designation Subcommittee of the Manufacturing Industry Committee under the Industrial Structure Council held discussions on the crafts and decided to newly designate them as traditional crafts. On November 20, 2019, these designations were announced by a public notice and the crafts have been listed accordingly as items designated as traditional crafts by the Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry (for the latest newly designated crafts, see Reference 1). The number of designated traditional crafts now comes to 235 items (for the list of designated crafts, see Reference 3).
2. Outline of the newly designated crafts
(1) Gyoda Tabi Socks
Gyoda Tabi Socks are traditional socks produced in Gyoda City, Saitama Prefecture. Around the mid-Edo period, these socks became famous as one of the specialties in the area and were shipped to Edo, the former name of Tokyo, and the Tohoku region. In the latter half of the Meiji era, workshops in Gyoda introduced sewing machines and started mass production of the socks, which made the area Japan’s top producer of socks. Since then, Gyoda Tabi Socks have boasted a long, well-preserved tradition and are still an indispensable item within Japanese clothing culture.
(2) Edo Oshi-e Embossed Fabric Pictures
During the Edo period, the production of many Edo Oshi-e Embossed Fabric Pictures started in the vicinity of the Asakusa area, where Toshinoichi, a large-scale market of New Year’s supplies and materials, is held at the end of every year. Originally, producers of the pictures resided in the area, but some of them have run businesses in prefectures surrounding Tokyo since they were forced to leave Tokyo due to the Great Kanto Earthquake in 1923 or in evacuations during World War II. During the Edo period, techniques evolved with the introduction of skills associated with traditional Japanese-style paintings, while the craftspeople focused on the costumes and popular customs of Kabuki as they were inspired by popular Kabuki actors in the three-biggest Kabuki companies in Edo, which performed at theaters in the Asakusa area. Over the long period of time since then, the craftspeople have maintained these traditions and the pictures are now applied to Hagoita wooden paddles, portraits and framing as well as to decorative folding screens, fans and other goods.
(3) Naniwa Honzome Hand-dyeing
Naniwa Honzome Hand-dyeing is one of Japan’s unique dyeing methods, originally developed in the Osaka area for the purpose of mass production of patterned, cotton washcloths in the Meiji era. This dyeing method is commonly called “Chusen,” a mold-based dyeing style, and is characterized by delicate patterns and brilliant colors. This dyeing method was originally applied to Yukata (light cotton summer kimonos), and this gained people’s attention and made the dyeing popular across Japan. In the process of this dyeing, craftspeople dye both the front and back sides of the cloth, using the unique techniques of Sashiwake, dyeing using a variety of colors, and Bokashi, blurring of colors, which finishes the dyed cloths with fine textures. The dyeing method has been applied to a wide variety of commodities, including parasols, Hawaiian shirts and coasters, as well as to cotton washcloths and Yukatas.
Reference: Details of the Act on the Promotion of Traditional Craft Industries
The Act aims to provide rich and affluent living to the public and contribute to the succession of traditional skills and techniques to the next generation, as well as to the economic development and creation of employment in various regions across Japan, through the promotion of traditional craft industries. Traditional crafts that are designated* under the Act are subject to various types of promotion policies under the Act (for excerpts of the related provisions of the Act, see Reference 2).
*Five requirements should be satisfied for designation: the craft should be: [i] a daily commodity, [ii] handmade, [iii] made using a traditional skill or technique continued for the last 100 years or more, [iv] made of a raw material which has been used traditionally, and [v] created in a particular area.
Links to Related Information
Division in Charge
Traditional Craft Industry Office, Lifestyle Industries Division, Manufacturing Industries Bureau