Japanese Metal Crafts
Metalwork has long been prized for its long-lasting use and gorgeous appearance. In Japan, bronze swords and harnesses were made from the Yayoi period (circa 300 B.C. to A.D. circa 300) based on techniques introduced from China and Korea. With the rise of Buddhism, the construction of temples, Buddhist statues, and Buddhist ritual implements flourished, and metalworking techniques also developed. Eventually, a wide variety of products such as tea ceremony utensils, Japanese swords, armors, and ornaments came to be manufactured.
Gold, silver, copper, tin, and iron are the main materials used in metal crafts. There are four major manufacturing processes: casting, in which molten metal is poured into a mold to create a shape; hammering, in which a metal sheet is hammered to create a shape; forging, in which hot metal is hammered to create a shape; and carving, in which a pattern is carved into the surface of metal using a hammer.
Depending on the type of metal used as the material of the product, the way it changes over time will differ. The characteristic feature of metal crafts is the ability to nurture the metal and enjoy the changes. Products sold as metal crafts are carefully crafted by human hands and can be used semi-permanently with proper care.
Metal crafts have developed in various regions of Japan, taking advantage of its unique characteristics. Many of them are designated as traditional crafts, and there are nearly 100 of them. Some of the most famous examples are Tsubame Sanjo Metalwork, Takaoka Copperware, Nanbu Ironware, Tokyo Silverware, and so on.