Woodworking town Kanuma

 

Over 380 years ago in 1636, Tokugawa Iemitsu, the grandson of the former shogun (military ruler) Tokugawa Ieyasu, conducted the Kanei-era renovation of the Nikko Toshogu temple complex.

The nation’s best temple-building artisans, including craftsmen in carpentry, sculpture and lacquerware, gathered in Kanuma preparing and conducting their work for the project. Their outstanding skills took root in Kanuma, making it famous nationwide for its woodworking crafts. Today, it is Kanuma Kumiko (latticework) that brings together these skills and techniques handed-down over the years.

Union of Kanuma Craftsmen

Kanuma Kumiko is used in the finer decorative details of shoji (paper doors) and other products. It is named Kanuma Kumiko after the craftsmen who competed to develop finer and more complex patterns used in shoji latticework. There are a total of 48 fundamental patterns, such as hemp, paulownia, cherry blossoms, sesame, etc. from which the skill and creativity of the craftsmen have developed an almost endless series of designs.

Kanuma Kumiko is mainly produced from hinoki (cypress). The familiarity of the craftsmen with the wood, enabled them to shape and assemble the latticework without the need for nails or other fittings at all.

Kanuma Kumiko has been used in the most luxurious fittings such as transom windows over shoji doors or in Shoin-style doors. However, in recent years, as demand for traditional-style Japanese housing has declined, so our mission has developed to bring traditional Kumiko techniques to modern design and production.

Kanuma Kumiko

Hemp leaf pattern

Kanuma is also Japan’s leading region for the production of hemp, used in textiles and rope since the pre-historic Jomon period. With its fast growth, two metres in three months, and its strong fibres, hemp leaf patterned clothing became a popular custom. It is also seen as a sacred plant and a charm against evil. But most of all, the hemp leaf pattern is seen as bringing together the heritage of Kanuma.