Aizome – Japanese Indigo on Martial Arts Equipment
Visit to the Nogawa workshop – From the leaf to the Hakama
Aizome dyeing, indigo blue, also known as “Japanese blue”, is a traditional dyeing since the dawn of time. It has long been used in many fields: for working clothes, decorative fabrics to samurai garments and armors. Nogawa Masatoshi, 3rd generation, welcomes us in his studio and introduces to us the traditional indigo as the Nogawa workshop has been making it since 1914.
Indigo Fabric Manufacture for Kendogi at the Nogawa workshop
Embroidery Workshop & Translation Practices at Seido
Having one’s training’s cloths embroidered is the most common thing in Japan. However, westerners often know just little about this topic and some struggle with making the right choice. That is why in this article we are going to talk about embroidery content, show some common mistakes and give advice on how to avoid them and last but not least, explain how we make them at Seido.
Enjoying the quiet summer months, we travelled across Japan to visit the officially recognized workshops manufacturing wooden weapons in Japan: “Aramaki Budogu Mokojo”, “Nidome Bokuto Seisakujo“, “Horinouchi Noboru Seisakujo” and “Matsuzashi Bokuto Seisakujo”. These last four companies fabricating wooden weapons are all located in “Miyakonojo”, a small town on the peninsula of Kyushu (southern Japan), enclosed by two mountain ranges. In this article we will show all the steps of the making of a Bokken, guided through by an artisan of the workshop Aramaki Bokuto Mojojo, led by master Aramaki Kazuhiro, the 3rd.
History of the Japanese Bokken & interview with master Nidome Yoshiaki
An encounter in the mountains of Kyushu: Between the art and its craftsman
The Bokken, wooden imitation of the famous Katana, is almost as old as the latter. Its poor quality in the beginning made it a “consumable item” which could easily be replaced if broken. The Bokken’s quality improved gradually over time but it was not until the early 20th century, with the birth of the workshop in Miyakonojo (Kyushu) that the Bokken, the wooden sword, became a piece of art. At this workshop the ancient art of woodworking met the traditional martial arts, both of them sharing common values.
The Bokken is a tool. It can either faithfully represent a sword, be used for muscle training or, if it is very light, become an instrument in order to work on precision. Some schools even consider the Bokken as weapon itself and study it as such. In Aikido, Kendo or Iaido, relatively conventional Bokken are used, compared to some schools of Kenjutsu, Koryu and Kobudo, for which specific weapons are chosen, especially to support the physical development and the specific techniques of the school.
Since 1923, the Horinouchi workshop takes pride in keeping a copy of every manufactured weapon. Even though the exact number of the available models is unclear, there are certainly over a hundred types displayed in the small private museum of the workshop.