About Kakita Katsuro Mask Factory
|Artifact Name||Iwami Nagahama Mask : Kagura Mask|
Kagura is a type of ritual dance that first thrived in the Iwami region of Shimane Prefecture.
The dances, originally performed at shrines, would last from evening until dawn the next day, to show gratitude to nature and the gods during the harvest season.
Based on Japanese myths, these performances were grand and colorful spectacles, and beginning in the dawn of the Meiji era (around 1868), kagura troupes began to form to entertain shrine visitors.
It is that kagura style that has been handed down into the modern era as a tradition art form.
Lush, dazzling costumes, diligently embroidered stitch by stitch, are one of the most important elements of kagura.
But another indispensable ingredient in the swift-paced, soul-stirring Iwami Kagura are the masks, made of light yet sturdy Sekishu Washi (A UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage).
The Traditional Craftsman Profile
Kakishibu : A natural coatingThe juice of the unripe persimmon, fermented and then strained, is known as "kakishibu." The tannin found in this juice has waterproofing, preserving, and insect repelling effects. It’s been used as a natural coating since ancient times.
Sekishu washiSekishu washi is a type of washi (Japanese paper) produced in the Iwami region of Shimane Prefecture. Originating in the year 704, it has since received designations of "important intangible cultural asset", "traditional craft", and "intangible cultural heritage". It was also registered as an Intangible Cultural Heritage by UNESCO in 2009.
Changing social structures in modern times have created challenges due to personnel and material shortages, but many people are working very hard to preserve this important traditional skill.
Lucky charmsIn recent years, kagura masks have found demand as lucky charms, prized not only for their role in kagura dances, but as housewarming and anniversary gifts.
- 2. After the clay dries, the washi (Japanese paper) is carefully applied, layer by layer
- 4. Persimmon juice is applied to the inside of the mask and let dry
- 5. Holes are opened for the eyes, nose, and hair
- 6. Chalk paste is applied and let dry repeatedly
- 8. Hair is implanted.
A word from Katsuro KakitaThe city where I was born and raised, Nagahama, has always had a thriving local craft scene. We made swords, trays, and bowls during the Kamakura Era (1185-), and Nagahama Dolls during the Edo Period (1600-). The Iwami Kagura masks we see today were initially developed by these doll-makers. When I was a child during the post-war era, the people were so poor that we struggled even to find food, yet we had a thriving industry producing a staple of every day life: umbrellas. Nagahama was one host to this industry.
On the way home from school, I used to watch the umbrella-makers at work. I still remember their skillful wielding of the glue brushes as they affixed the washi paper to the frame, and their dexterity as they spun the umbrellas while painting circled-dot patterns on them with ink. Watching those umbrella-makers so hard at work was my inspiration to become a craftsman. I am grateful to the support that so many people have given us as my son and I strive to apply ourselves every day.
Location & Address
■ 柿田勝郎面工房: Kakita Katsuro Mask Factory
- Postal code
- 636-60 Atsuta-cho Hamada Shimane
- Business hours
- 9:30 - 18:30