Is Tsumami zaiku really traditional craft of Japan?

Hello, I am Tomomi Yamashita, ITA Teacher and Director.

Tsumami zaiku is known as a traditional Japanese craft, but, to be exact, it is Japan’s traditional craft designated by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government.

So why? I guess you might ask.

Tsumami zaiku is indeed a traditional craft, but Japan has the following requirements for designation

  1. The product must be used primarily in daily life.
  2. The main part must be handmade.
  3. The craftsmanship or technique must be more than 100 years old.
  4. Natural raw materials that have been used for more than 100 years must be used.
  5. The product must be produced in an established production area (more than 10 companies or more than 30 workers in a certain area).

The product is considered a traditional Japanese craft if these five criteria are met.

Tsumami zaiku was positioned as a “traditional craft designated by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government” because Tokyo was the only area where tsumami zaiku was being produced at the time it was certified as a traditional craft.

The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) was in charge of this certification at the time, which is probably why the requirement was set in this way.

If it had been under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, requirement #5 would have been eliminated and Tsumami zaiku would have officially become a traditional Japanese craft from the perspective of preserving culture.

Since Japan has a spirit of respecting its ancient culture, I wish the whole country would give more importance to traditional products.

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