The five-stringed koto of the Karafuto Ainu
The tongkoli is a musical instrument carved from Sakhalin fir wood.
The parts of the instrument are intended to represent parts of the body such as the head, ears, neck; with a “soul ball” is placed in the “belly button” or hollow of the base.
In Ainu culture, it is mainly used to accompany dances, love story songs, and animal gesture songs.
The craftsman comes from a family of carvers going back to his great-grandfather, and he grew up watching his parents carve and embroider.
He continues to carve in the hopes that more people will pick up his work.
We hope you will enjoy this rare, traditional Ainu instrument.
|Manufacturer||with AINU CRAFTS.|
|Country of origin||Hokkaido|
|Material||Sakhalin fir wood|
|Size||W12.6 * D2.95 * H35.43 in. (W32 * D7.5 * H90cm)|
|Note||Avoid repeated wetting and drying|
|Delivery Time||1-2 weeks|
Handicrafts that offer gratitude and prayers to all things in nature
with AINU CRAFTS.
- Ainu Crafts
The proud culture of the Ainu people
The Ainu people were the first people to inhabitant the northern part of the Japanese archipelago including Hokkaido
In the past, there were many tribes living in the surrounding area that formed their own language and culture, and had active interactions with each other.
In the spiritual world of the Ainu, it is believed that everything in nature has a soul, and the creatures and phenomena with the strongest influence and power are called "kamui" (gods).
For example, animals, plants, fire, water, wind, mountains, and rivers are all kamui whom come to the human world bringing meat, skins, plants, and trees as souvenirs.
The Ainu people lived by praying to the kamui, giving thanks for the blessings of nature, and incorporating as many products as they needed for food, clothing, and shelter while trading freely with the surrounding peoples with their creative handicrafts and harvests from nature.
However, the Ainu way of life began to face many challenges starting in the 17th century.
The Ainu identity as a people was gradually taken away from them as they were restricted not only in their trading locations, but also in their residential areas, language, and traditional customs.
Today, the Ainu have overcome this adversity and are striving to create a society where their unique pride is once again respected by restoring and passing-on Ainu traditions and culture through many new new undertakings.
Delicate and outstanding Ainu craftsmanship
Ainu crafts were born from the tools and clothing they used to survive and thrive, drawing on the wisdom and knowledge gained from the harsh natural environment of the north.
Outstanding woodworking skills were developed while making and caring for tools for hunting, fishing, and gathering.
The tools used in cherished rituals and festivals also played a major role in enhancing craft skills.
Another distinctive feature of the region is the development of techniques for making clothing and weaving textiles and mats from natural products such as animal pelts, fish skins, bird feather skins, grass fibers, and tree bark.
The delicate patterns embroidered on clothing and carved into wooden crafts hold special meaning to the user, and feature distinct characteristics depending on the region they are made.
How Ainu crafts can impact the world
The Ainu believe that everything in nature has a soul and have always valued coexistence with all things in this world.
The Ainu are grateful for the blessings of nature, do not take more than is necessary, and have lived while interacting harmoniously among tribes in the region.
This worldview, which has been passed down from generation to generation, is relevant to today's society, which is striving for sustainability.
with. AINU CRAFTS aims to familiarize people with traditional Ainu techniques, materials, and patterns so that Ainu culture can become better known.
To this end, the project was launched with the desire to create new craft products that many people can incorporate into their daily lives.
Through new Ainu products that combine delicate and beautiful traditional techniques with fresh and futuristic perspectives, we hope to build an ethical society that recognizes diversity and allows all beings to coexist.
How Japanese Products Can Be Such High Quality
The Reason Japan Can Produce So Many High-Quality Products
To put it simply, it’s because they found a way to produce exceptional products with high efficiency, resulting in surprisingly low prices.
The Japanese Drive for Perfection
The Japanese always seek perfection in both the production process and the products themselves.
As such, the Japanese production process aims to eliminate waste and inefficiencies while guaranteeing quality by having craftspeople inspect their own products and constantly strive to make improvements.
Ingenuity Stemming from the Spirit of “Omotenashi” and “Kikubari”
The Japanese excel at creating and improving things because of their devotion to the ideas of hospitality and attentiveness, known as “omotenashi” and “kikubari” respectively. These ideas push them to uncover, predict, and fulfill their customers’ every need.
This earnestness, as well as how they spare no effort when it comes to offering their customers the very best, is reflected in the products Japan produces.
Trustworthy Suppliers That Deliver On All Fronts
One product is often the result of various organizations joining forces and combining their skills and capabilities.
Japanese suppliers are known for their dedication to delivering high-quality materials, parts, and products on schedule, and it’s thanks to their efforts that Japan can produce such high-quality goods.
The Japanese Are the World’s Most Discerning and Demanding Customers
Many Japanese people have traveled and experienced shopping around the world. This has given them a much more discerning eye for judging the quality of products.
The standards of Japanese people are very high. They are finely tuned not just to the quality, safety, design, and novelty of products, but also to their visual appearance such as their packaging and wrapping.
Made-in-Japan products keep improving in quality in order to meet the rigorous standards of their domestic clientele.
Japan Is Home to Many Long-Established Companies
According to an international survey, Japan has the highest number of companies that have been established over a century ago. In fact, the grand total of 33,076 of such Japanese companies accounts for 41.3% of the total worldwide number of 80,066. The US takes second place with 19,497 companies (24.4%) and Sweden comes in third with 13,997 (17.5%).
Japan also has the highest number of companies that are more than two centuries old, being home to 1,340 such companies, which account for 65.0% of the global total of 2,051. The US takes second place with 239 companies (11.6%), Germany comes in third with 201 (9.8%), and the UK places fourth with 83 (4.0%).
So, Japan is able to produce so many high-quality goods because it’s home to the highest number of long-established companies that have been passing down their knowledge and technical prowess through the generations.
*Source: Based on data from Teikoku Databank and Bureau Van Dijk’s orbis (as of October 2019).
What Makes Traditional Japanese Crafts High Quality
Traditional crafts are the amalgamation of Japanese culture.
“Traditional crafts” is the general term used for crafts that are produced using processes and techniques that have been passed down through generations. In Japan, this includes textiles, dyed goods, ceramics, lacquerware, woodwork, washi Japanese paper, dolls, items for Buddhist rituals, and other goods that enrich our everyday lives.
Traditional crafts are associated with the concept of “the beauty of use”, which refers to products and skills that become easier to use and approach perfection the longer they come into contact with people.
Currently, it is believed that there are approximately 1,300 different types of traditional crafts in Japan.
Among these, 236 crafts have been officially designated as “traditional Japanese crafts” by the Japanese Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry (as of January 2021).
The main criteria for being recognized as a traditional Japanese craft:
Key Parts of the Production Process Must Be Done by Hand
Traditional Japanese crafts do not have to be entirely handmade, but the underlying process that brings out the product’s unique and distinctive characteristics, such as their quality, form, and design, must be handcrafted.
This guarantees that every traditional Japanese craft is, at its core, a product of human hands, meaning that its size and shape have been designed with human comfort in mind. It also makes the crafts much safer.
The Skills and Techniques Used to Make It Must Be Passed Down for Over 100 Years
The Japanese believe that a technique or a skill can only be considered reliable and complete after it’s been refined through trial and error and constant improvements by numerous craftspeople over a period of at least 100 years.
Skills are closely related to the capability of each craftsperson and precision, and they are something that an individual can refine. Techniques, on the other hand, are associated with the historical accumulation of knowledge, including everything from the selection of raw materials to the production process.
All this said, modern craftspeople don’t just mimic the techniques of the past. Rather, they’re continuously coming up with improvements and developing new ways of doing things without fundamentally changing what makes traditional Japanese crafts unique.
The Skills and Techniques Used to Make It Must Be Passed Down for Over 100 Years
As we can see, the secret to the high quality of made-in-Japan products is the drive of Japanese people for perfection, the adherence to their unique philosophy of hospitality, and their discerning eye that can’t be matched.
Traditional Japanese crafts are one level above normal made-in-Japan products, as they must also meet rigorous criteria such as being handcrafted or made using skills and techniques that have been passed down for at least a century.
Thanks to all of the above, Japanese products have become famous for their high quality all over the world.