Kumiko is a traditional Japanese technique, made of many wooden bars crossed and laid to form various designs and expressions.
No nails or metal pieces are used, and the wooden parts are put together by adjusting grooves and angles.
At Yoshihara Woodworking, we make fittings with these traditional kumiko techniques, and original items that acquaints with architectures of today.
Inheriting the tradition, and making use of the tradition.
We will keep on challenging in various fields.
The hishi pattern is a stylized depiction of the water caltrop, an annual plant found in ponds and marshes, or its leaves.
The hishi pattern comes in a rich array of variants, and it has had established use as a family crest since the Heian period of Japanese history. It is often used in the basic assembly of kumiko, and though its form is simple, it is also said to have a beauty that is archetypal of Japanese patterns.
Because hishi can be constructed with two or three layers, it can be used to produce a number of different variations. A pattern in which two large and small hishi are linked together is a design that is simple yet playful. The water caltrop reproduces readily and, due to this perpetuation of its descendants and vitality, the pattern is said to be a good omen for sound health.
Composed using a bold, thick line in the center (representing a parent) and slender lines (representing children) to each side, this elegant form is refined yet abounding in variations. It is known as “komochi” because it appears to symbolize children (ko) being held by (mochi) a parent.
This pattern is imbued with hopes for one’s descendants and for sound health.
Once, mitsukude was known as the ultimate technique, grasped only by craftsmen who had mastered their profession. Today, this pattern is often made with a technique of basic construction into which the leaves of the pattern are inserted. We recommend this pattern most of all to those who appreciate simplicity.
The geometric asanoha pattern is an effective talisman, and it has been used in Buddhist furnishings since the Heian period. Because hemp is also robust and grows quickly and straight, there is a custom in Japan of using hemp cloth to make infant clothing to symbolize a wish for the child’s growth.
One of the most popular of the Japanese patterns, asanoha is widely incorporated into designs for textiles and lacquerware.
The word “yae” means “a lot.” Compared to typical kumiko, the yae pattern develops its elaborateness through the interweaving of wooden slats into two and three layers. It requires a skilled craftsman’s superlative technique and is one of the most labor-intensive designs.
Because it has the same origin as the asanoha pattern, it is also said to have talismanic properties.
It is said that this pattern, with its crisp and dramatic vertical lines, represents the opening of a pod of sesame seeds. Sesame seeds, which were brought to Japan in the 6th century, were valued as an immensely healthy medicine that promoted long life; accordingly, many people treasure this pattern as a good omen of sound health.
This emblem, the official symbol of the Nabeshima clan of the Saga domain, is a refined mark that was used on the formal clothing of samurai.
At the end of the Meiji period, Japan sent cherry tree seedlings to the United States as a symbol of the two countries’ friendship. Cherry trees, which are beautiful both as they bloom and as the blossoms fall, are known throughout the world as the flower that symbolizes Japan.
As shown by the children’s song “Sakura,” the Japanese people have lived their lives with a special sentiment towards cherry blossoms for a long time.
This feeling has been incorporated into kumiko since long ago.
There are a number of different ways that cherry blossoms, the beloved flower of Japan, are expressed in kumiko design. Craftsmen create the lovely pattern of cherry blossoms, which can appear as if studded with sparkling gemstones, by modifying a tortoiseshell pattern to bring out its delicacy.
We use this sakura-kikko, a Yoshihara original design, in living room shoji screens.
This Yoshihara original pattern is modeled after plum blossoms, which have been valued in Japan since long ago for their loveliness, aroma, and the distinctive shape that plum trees take.
In the language of flowers, plum blossoms mean nobility, elegance, and charm.
Thanks to the charming beauty of the red plum blossoms and their appearance as they bloom, dispersing their fragrance on chill spring winds, these flowers suggest a feeling of vitality. These supple curves are a popular design among women.
This fine kumiko is created by the incorporation of bent wood into the mitsukude pattern.
The titular Seven Treasures are those that are written of in Buddhist scriptures. The tortoiseshell pattern, as its name suggests, is based on the shells of tortoises arranged into thin, hexagonal shapes that are said to be a symbol and omen of longevity.
This auspicious pattern symbolizes the harmoniously unfolding relationships between people through its expression of an endless, unbroken, and expanding chain.
This pattern is based on the gentian, which blooms in autumn.
The gentian pattern was favored for use on clothing by nobles of the Heian period and, when linked together, it gives the appearance of emerging rings. This popular design is lovely and intriguing.
The range of the kikko pattern, which has been used since long ago, has expanded over time to include a combination of Japanese characters, animals, and plants.
The word “yae” means “a lot,” and yae is a kumiko pattern requiring the utmost skill and time to produce. This beautiful design is created by layering tortoiseshell patterns one over another to create the impression of autumn leaves.
Since the Heian period, this pattern has been used for the furnishings, garments, and palanquins of court nobles. This pattern with its unique form has been handed down to the present as an auspicious design imbued with wishes for long life and good fortune.
In addition, the word “kawari-urahana” indicates a pattern that has been modified from its original form. The addition of the triangular shapes produces the appearance of more beautiful flower petals.
This traditional pattern, handed down from ancient Japan, is a stylized image of basket weaving.
The character for basket, “kago,” is formed from the components “take” (bamboo) and “ryu” (dragon). An arcane power is said to reside in the basket, in the form of a sealed dragon, and this pattern is regarded as a talisman for warding off spirits.
Sangi, or counting rods, are a tool used for arithmetic calculation in traditional Chinese and Japanese mathematics. These beautiful patterns, which take the shape of numbers as indicated by the horizontal and vertical rods, are known as “sangikuzushi” or “sankuzushi.”
This pattern fits in well alongside stylish and modern designs.
This design combines three overlapping and endlessly repeating kikko patterns, based on a tortoise’s shell, and it is imbued with a wish for eternal prosperity.
The name bishamon-kikko is used because it is the pattern of the armor of one of the Four Heavenly Kings of Buddhism, Bishamon (in Sanskrit, Vaisravana). Bishamon, a god of victory in battle, is commonly worshipped for his role in governing the safety of the home and prosperity in business.
This pattern evokes the form of a series of boxes through the addition of the shape of the character for “well,” which resembles a hash mark (#), to the square framing. This pattern is deeply familiar, having been used from the Edo period through the Meiji and Taisho periods on such things as young men’s clothing. It is imbued with the meaning of good relations connecting people together and is particularly cherished by ordinary people.
In some regions, it is also known as yoshihara-tsunagi.
Patterns having to do with the water that is indispensable to life have been a part of design since long ago.
The 23rd episode of The Tales of Ise, a collection of tales and poems created during the Heian period, states thus:
“In comparing my height to that of the round wall that encircles the well, I find that I have grown taller than the enclosure / during the time that I have not met with you. ”
In the poem, the well curb is enveloped by memories of a couple, linking their feelings of yearning for each other.
This represents a swirl of hair on the chest of the Hindu god Vishnu. In Buddhism, it is an auspicious mark found on the breast of the Buddha. Thought to appear as a good omen, this emblem has a long history and is familiar to a number of different cultures. This meaning and these interpretations imbue the pattern with wishes to ward off spirits and for happiness, good fortune, and sacredness.
The asanoha pattern incorporated into a lattice of squares that intersect at 90° angles is known as “kaku-asanaoha.” It is often used in the shoji screens or transoms of traditional studies, and is familiar as a pattern for kumiko that is as popular as ordinary asanoha.
Another appeal of this pattern is how it can be used to express a design that amuses the eye with lines and checks that bring to mind the game Tetris.
Because it is said that the Chinese phoenix dwells in paulownia trees, the use of this noble pattern is said to have once been permitted only for objects related to the Imperial household.
Kumiko shoji screens combining crisp vertical lines with the paulownia crest are used to adorn the highly formal, traditional shoin-zukuri architecture and formal decorative alcoves. Even in modern spaces, it has a presence that stands out.
This auspicious pattern represents the gentle waves lapping against the shore from a sea that extends in every direction. It symbolizes a hope for a peaceful life that continues forever. Its name originates from the name of a song and dance of the Japanese court that appears in The Tale of Genji.
The pattern is simple yet nostalgic and gives the impression of the bounty offered by the vast oceans.
The shippo-tsunagi pattern, which represents the Seven Treasures, has a long history of use in many temples and shrines. The Seven Treasures described in Buddhist scriptures are gold, silver, lapis lazuli, coral, agate, quartz, and giant clams that are said to live for a thousand years.
The enjoined circles are imbued with wishes for eternal peace, accord, and social ties. The pattern also represents the idea that the relationships and links between people are equal in value to the Seven Treasures.
Snakes in copulation are drawn in this pattern. In the Jomon-era, it is said that people believed their ancestral spirits were snakes. The “shime-nawa”, straw decorations used in Japanese new years, comes from the snakes copulation, and wishes for prosperity in descendants.