Gujo ori, a traditional Japanese folk art

This small coin purse is made from a hand woven silk fabric called Gujo ori, a traditional Japanese folk art.

Gujo, in current Gifu prefecture, was influenced and enriched by interaction and exchange with the capital even during the Nara era, and developed its own unique folk art and culture.

Gujo tsumugi ori is one well known example of its folk arts. Using silk floss extracted from the double cocoons of spring silkworms, fibers are spun by hand to create tsumugi yarn. It is then hand dyed with organic materials such as herb roots and tree bark, and finally woven by hand.

Designs are mostly stripes, crossed stripes, splash patterns (Kasuri) and some geometrical patterns. It has qualities of both silk and wool: strong, warm and free from wrinkles.

In 1947 the Gujo Weaving Institute was founded by Rikizo Munehiro in an effort to preserve the traditional craft. In 1982 he was awarded the title of Living National Treasure.

This purse is available for sale in my Etsy shop


GUJO TSUMUGI | Dyeing and Weaving. (2017). Retrieved 17 September 2017, from

Weaving and Dyeing. (2017). Retrieved 17 September 2017, from


Sugidama: a cedar ball

Mitaki-en in Tottori

Recently I visited Mitaki-en, a cosy restaurant complex in a magical forest setting near the beginning of Therapy Road, not far from the town of Chizu in Tottori Prefecture. I spotted a wooden ball covered by its own little wooden roof hanging under the eaves.  A Japanese friend, Natsuki from Tottori city, told me that it is called a ‘sugi-dama’ or ‘cedar ball’,  made from cedar needles and twigs, and symbolising hope and peace. Continue reading Sugidama: a cedar ball

Yaki-in branding irons

Kanazawa is well known for its wide variety of traditional hand made Japanese sweets.  Last week I visited the Kanazawa Museum of Wooden Japanese Sweets Molds located on the second floor of Morihachi Honten, a sweets store with a history dating back to 1625. There are over a thousand wooden sweets molds on display, grouped into several time periods starting from Edo and finishing with the  Showa period.

Kanazawa Wooden Sweets Molds Museum Kanazawa Museum of Wooden Japanese Sweets Molds Continue reading Yaki-in branding irons

Hashi-oki chopstick pillows: Genji-mon crest


I bought this pair of pretty hashi-oki chopstick pillows at a temple market held at Gokokujinja in Rokko, Kobe city on the 4th Sunday of each month.  The temple grounds are a lovely setting for a market and the roving musicians add a delightful carnival atmosphere. Continue reading Hashi-oki chopstick pillows: Genji-mon crest

Horse dolls of Japan, part 1: Miharu-goma

A friend from Himeji was clearing out the cupboards in her old family house in Aioi and put aside a few things she thought I might be interested in. Amongst the pile was a pair of old  white wooden horses (chagu chagu umako) from Morioka city in Iwate prefecture. How delightful they are!

Chagu-chagu umako horse dolls

Continue reading Horse dolls of Japan, part 1: Miharu-goma

Kubi ningyo – clay dolls on a wood stick

Kubi-ningyo doll pair
Kubi-ningyo doll pair

What a fierce  (humorous?) looking pair of dolls!   Knowing absolutely nothing about them, I bought them some months ago at the Shitennoji temple market in Osaka….

Continue reading Kubi ningyo – clay dolls on a wood stick

Fuchin scroll weights – Aochibu style Kutani-yaki porcelain

A traditional Japanese room often has a hanging scroll (kakemono) displayed in the alcove (tokonoma).  Fuchin, small tasseled weights, are sometimes hung  from the bottom roller ends of the scroll. Besides being decorative, fuchin help to take out any creases in the scroll and prevent it from blowing around in a breeze.  They are typically made of ceramic or stone such as onyx.  They are quite lovely and I often come across them at the markets.

Ceramic fuchin scroll weights

Continue reading Fuchin scroll weights – Aochibu style Kutani-yaki porcelain