TOKYO — Traces of the old boondocks of Edo can be begin about the access arch up to the access of Buddhist temple Sensoji in Asakusa, one of Tokyo’s best iconic day-tripper spots. Signs for “dance costumes,” “festival goods,” and “traditional sensu fans” are lined up forth the street, while bodies in acceptable accoutrements and rickshaws for tourists canyon by. Nestled in this cornball townscape is Yonoya Kushiho, a boutique specializing in handmade boxwood combs that has a history of over 300 years.
In the establishment, which additionally houses a workshop, boutique arch Yutaka Saito, 40, uses a handmade book to anxiously ability the combs’ teeth one by one.
In the old days, high-quality combs were fabricated of boxwood. Besides actuality able-bodied and fine-grained, the actual is characterized by its elasticity. “It’s not calmly bent, and beard accident rarely occurs aback you besom your beard with it. Boxwood combs are affable on the beard cuticles,” said Yutaka’s 40-year-old wife Yuzu, who has connected beard herself.
Yonoya’s combs are created from “Satsuma-tsuge” boxwood developed in the southwestern Japan prefecture of Kagoshima, which is said to be of the accomplished amore in the country. Boxwood actual developed in the balmy breadth is apparent to smoke and broiled afore ability the action of cutting acclimatize teeth. For “brushing combs,” the shop’s basic product, there are about 60 teeth on “fine-toothed” combs that are about 15 centimeters long. A book is acclimated to abrade and acclimatize anniversary and every tooth of the acclimatize by hand.
The comb, which has been filed and fabricated bland to the touch, is blood-soaked in high-grade camellia oil for three to four days. Yuzu opened one of the chiffonier drawers of the boutique to appearance that it was abounding with camellia oil.
“By thoroughly arresting the oil, the comb’s damp and afterglow gets brought out. Alike if you abide to use them for a connected time, they won’t get bent, or curve, and they additionally gradually about-face into an amber color, which gives users a faculty of amore against the combs. The added you use them, the added agreeableness is brought out,” she said.
Yutaka, who is in his 17th year of the craft, hopes to canyon bottomward Japan’s acceptable ability of application boxwood combs. During the Edo aeon (1603-1867), amidst a ability area men and women akin grew out their hair, specialized hairdressers were in allegation of administration people’s hair. Thus, assorted combs served as accoutrement appointed for such professionals, rather than domiciliary goods.
However, association afflicted during the Meiji Restoration as Japan transitioned to a avant-garde state. Following the 1871 decree that abolished beard regulations for men, their beard got beneath while women additionally began to tie their beard up in a Western style. Furthermore, aback celluloid and added artificial accessories began to be broadcast in the Showa aeon (1926-1989) at a bargain price, shops specializing in the assembly of boxwood combs decreased drastically. Twenty or so establishments existed in Tokyo in the years amid 1945 and 1954, but there abide aloof two today. Yonoya is one of the shops that has agitated on its business to the present while constant a crisis of a abridgement of breed to booty over the business.
“Boxwood combs accept connected to be acclimated by Japanese bodies in their lives for a connected time. They tend to be beheld as adored craftworks, but in the end, they are accustomed items. Like the idiom, ‘visit the accomplished to advance new ideas,’ I’d like the Japanese bodies to restore a mindset that allows oneself added time and allowance to booty affliction of their beard thoroughly and leisurely,” said Yutaka.
The caramel-colored board combs assume to allege to us in such a way central the shop, which seems to be arctic in time.
(Japanese aboriginal by Tadahiko Mori, The Mainichi Staff Writer)
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Yutaka Saito emphasized that while people’s lifestyles and hairstyles accept afflicted over time, his shop, Yonoya Kushiho, has not started to accomplish accessories that are absolutely new. During my visit, I got a faculty of his able assurance to assure the actual and axiological methods acclimated to actualize the end product, as able-bodied as Japan’s connected attitude of caring thoroughly for one’s beard with high-quality boxwood combs.
Amid the “permanent wave” trend of the Showa aeon (1926-1989), the sales of new “perm combs” advised for this hairstyle began. Though a new hairstyle was introduced, the artefact itself was not new altogether, said Saito. He arise that perm combs absolutely adopted its anatomy from “kamoji” combs, which were accoutrement acclimated by able hairdressers to unknot and accommodate acceptable nihongami hair.
Kamoji combs’ teeth had added spaces amid anniversary added compared to approved combs as their purpose was to almost disengage askance hair. As added women coiled their hair, they bare article to alter fine-toothed combs, whose teeth would get circuitous in their curls. Thus, hints were taken from the advanced agreement of kamoji combs, which accustomed bouncing beard to coast through calmly and ill-fitted coiled beard well. This abstraction developed into Yonoya’s perm combs, which accept about 20 teeth on 14 cm combs, as against to 15 cm fine-toothed combs that accept about 60 teeth.
Saito said that while kamoji combs had briefly abolished afterwards hairstyles became westernized during the Meiji aeon (1868-1912), they were active in the anatomy of perm combs — a acceptable archetype of the Japanese argot ‘onkochishin,’ acceptation ‘visit the accomplished to advance new ideas.’
Yonoya additionally boasts a accumulating of business accidental beard accessories. Saito mentioned that while accessories coated in lacquer, which were beat to bout acceptable bathrobe attire, would be too abundant for an appointment setting, the accustomed ablaze caramel blush of boxwood would assignment able-bodied as a tiny accessory to add to the beard in such an environment. Again, the boutique makes use of Japan’s admired actual that already exists, in animosity of changes in the settings for which they are used.
Before the coronavirus pandemic, abounding adopted tourists from countries such as France, Italy and Spain, allegedly visited the shop, including those who came accurately in chase of the high-quality boxwood combs. Some of these individuals would appointment the abundance added than already — the closing occasions to acquirement hairpins to abrasion on their hair, which had developed connected afterwards they took acceptable affliction of it application Yonoya’s combs.
Though they may booty hardly new forms, the aspect of these acceptable combs has remained unchanged, as the boutique has acquired new customers. I achievement that Yonoya will accumulate revisiting the accomplished to actualize new accessories while overextension and attention Japan’s beard affliction traditions.
(By Chinami Takeichi, The Mainichi Staff Writer)
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Yonoya’s combs arise in assorted shapes. The basic affectionate are “brushing combs,” which abide of three types — “fine,” “medium,” and “wide” — based on the amplitude of amplitude amid anniversary tooth. “Perm combs” accept an alike added spacing, and barter can accept accessories based on the breadth and appearance of their hair. The shop’s calendar additionally includes “setting combs,” which are combs with handles acclimated for departing and administration hair, and “decorative combs” acclimated as beard accessories, some of which accept applique designs or accept been coated with lacquer, while others accomplish use of the boxwood’s aboriginal color.
Professional administration accoutrement alleged “vertical combs” with a broomlike appearance are additionally awash at the shop. These are acclimated by hairdressers specializing in acceptable Japanese hairstyles as able-bodied as those with sumo wrestler clientele.
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The Japanese box (Buxus microphylla var. japonica) is an beloved brier that grows in balmy areas of west Japan. As the actual is hard, aback old times, boxwood has been acclimated for a array of items, including combs, abacuses, “biwa” adhesive picks, hanko stamps, and shogi pieces.
The aerial copse grows slowly, and it takes about 50 to 70 years for it to become blubbery abundant to use as actual for combs. Afforestation has been demography abode in Kagoshima Prefecture to ensure a abiding accumulation of Satsuma boxwood, said to be of the accomplished amore amid its kind.
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Camellia oil, or oil taken from the seeds of camellia plants, is a must-have account with boxwood combs. The oil has been acclimated as a corrective to assure women’s atramentous hair. As it is affable not alone on the beard but additionally on the scalp, camellia oil is additionally acclimated in shampoo. As for boxwood acclimatize care, applying camellia oil to the acclimatize and teeth is the best able way to accumulate the acclimatize in acceptable condition.
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Yonoya Kushiho is amid at 1-37-10 Asakusa in Tokyo’s Taito Ward.
The shop’s official website can be accomplished at https://yonoya.com/
Yonoya Kushiho was founded in 1717 during the mid-Edo period, and the business is said to accept started abreast the Yushima Tenjin shrine, amid in the abreast Bunkyo Ward in Tokyo. In 1916, Mitsusaburo Minekawa, the great-grandfather of accepted boutique arch Yutaka Saito, relocated to Asakusa, and opened the enactment that now operates as Yonoya Kushiho. Mitsusaburo was allegedly accepted as a “god” for his accomplished technique, while his son Mitsumasa was alleged a “distinguished craftsman.” The works of the beforehand masters can additionally be apparent at the shop, which was congenital adverse arctic to anticipate the products’ acknowledgment to the sun.
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The “Enchanting Edo” alternation highlights Japanese traditions, crafts, artisanal techniques and ability that date aback several hundred years. Stories action a glimpse into old shops in Japan’s capital, which are all analytic for means to assure accepted abilities and talent, while additionally befitting them animate in the avant-garde day.
The aboriginal Japanese versions of the articles, which can be accomplished via the articulation amid at the top appropriate beneath the headline, accommodate “furigana” phonetic characters to abetment in account all kanji characters that arise in the text. The convenient argument primarily targets elementary academy accouchement in Japan, but can additionally be acclimated by non-Japanese readers acquirements intermediate-level Japanese. We animate any readers absorbed in Japanese culture, language, or both to accomplish abounding use of our series.
The abutting “Enchanting Edo” story, on Edo Kiriko cut glassware, will be appear on Sept. 14. The aboriginal Japanese adventure can be apprehend at https://mainichi.jp/maisho/articles/20200526/kei/00s/00s/004000c
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