Suruga Hinagu is Vivid traditional ritual utensils | Shizuoka traditional crafts



Suruga Hinagu – An important festival for
Japanese girls

The greatest feature of Suruga Hinagu is
that each piece is made in the same process as genuine furniture. There are
nearly 40 different types of hina-gutsu, including small items such as
goshoguruma, chests, nagamochi, and kagamidai (mirror stands), and nowadays,
folding screens and stands are also included in this category.

The wood is made using a manufacturing
method similar to that used for real furniture, and the painting process is the
same as that used for lacquerware, with the joints stopped and a base coat of
lacquer applied before the painting. The maki-e artist and the wholesaler
consult with each other to decide on the design and pattern, and then the
gorgeous maki-e patterns such as arabesques, flowers, birds, and landscapes are
applied. Therefore, Suruga Hinagu’s needle boxes and chests can be used for
small articles and boast a high level of artistic quality as interior

Just to make one SURUGA Hinagu, many
craftsmen are involved: a sashimono craftsman, a groundwork craftsman, an
underglaze painting craftsman, a lacquer craftsman, a maki-e craftsman, a metal
fittings craftsman, a tassel craftsman, and a finishing craftsman. The
elaborate and intricate production of SURUGA Hinagu is passed down to the
present day without any loss of quality, thanks to the division of labor in the
production process.

Suruga Hina-gu
Source: City of Shizuoka

Origin and Development

Birth of SURUGA Hinagu

Shizuoka has long flourished as a town of
woodworkers, painters, and bamboo craftsmen. From the end of the Edo period
until around 1955, the western area of Shizuoka, from Ichibancho to
Hachibancho, Saiwaicho, Tamachi, and Shintomi-machi, was a town of craftsmen,
where craftsmen of various traditional crafts and wholesalers of production
sites lived in concentration, making it suitable for a division of labor.

The Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923 brought
craftsmen from Tokyo who had been affected by the disaster to Shizuoka, and the
hina-gumi industry suddenly boomed, establishing Shizuoka as a national
production center for hina-gumi.

Development as an Industry

Suruga Hingugu There are two reasons for
the development of Suruga Hingugu. First, the Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923
brought a large number of highly skilled craftsmen from Tokyo to Shizuoka. The
second was the adoption of a division of labor system that specialized in
specialized fields. For each process of hina-gumi, specialized craftsmen
(sashi-mono, hikimono, nurimono, maki-e, and metal fittings craftsmen) perform
the work, and finally, wholesalers in the production area assemble the
hina-gumi. From the end of the Edo period until around 1955, the area around
Bancho and Shintomi-cho in Aoi Ward in Shizuoka flourished as a town of
craftsmen, and the geographical concentration of craftsmen and wholesalers in
various trades made the area suitable for a division of labor.

Manufacturing Methods and Processes

1. Wooden material making

  • Sashimono-shi

Sashimono-shi assembles box-shaped wooden
products without using any nails. This is an extremely delicate process, as
even a 0.1 mm difference in the thickness of the wood material to be fitted
into the product will prevent it from being assembled.

  • Hikimono-shi

Hikimono-shi is the process of shaping a
round piece of wood into its final form by turning a roughly shaved piece of
wood on a wheel and then shaving it with a blade.

2. Painting

The assembled wood base is then sanded,
prepared, and coated with lacquer by a lacquer painter (nurishi). There are
three stages in the lacquering process: primer coat, middle coat, and top coat.
Suruga charcoal, made from burnt wood called aburakiri, is often used for the
scraping process because of its softness and suitability. In addition to
conventional lacquer, “cashew lacquer” is now available for
lacquering. Cashew lacquer has less odor than conventional lacquer and is less
likely to cause skin rashes, making it particularly suitable for use on hina
utensils that small children can hold in their hands and play with.

3. Makie

Maki-e is done by a maki-e craftsman.
Maki-e is not a process in which a design is drawn directly on a lacquered
base. The design is further drawn or stamped with lacquer on top of the lacquer
base. Then, gold and silver powders are sprinkled on the urushi, and the urushi
acts as an adhesive, so that the gold and silver powders adhere only to the
pattern. In Suruga Hinagu, the most common patterns are flowers, birds,
landscapes, and arabesques. Most of the process is done by hand, so you can see
the difference of craftsmen’s skills. After maki-e is applied, the doll is
dried and then polished with sheepskin to a glossy finish.

4. Making metal fittings

Metal fittings are made by a metal fittings
craftsman. Metal fittings are made of copper or copper alloy. Metal fittings
are made for the edge of the hina-gut and for the handles of the drawers of the
hina-gut. The metal used for the metal fittings is cut into pieces that are
easy to work with, heated over a charcoal fire, and then allowed to cool
gradually. Once cooled, the surface is polished and the metal fittings are cut
out in the shape of the metal fittings written on Japanese paper. The patterns
are carved out with a tool called a “tagane,” which is used to
sharpen metal or rocks.

5. Finishing

Finishing is done by a finisher. The metal
fittings and decorative strings made by the metal fittings craftsman are
attached to the hina-gumi with rivets or glue. There are many small parts in a
hina-gutsu, but they can be attached together by using techniques handed down
from the olden days. This process is also steeped in tradition, and supports
the handiwork of modern finishers.


Mahoroba Hina Dolls and Gogatsu Dolls |
Shizuoka Showroom
Business hours: 10:00 – 17:00
Closed: No holidays
Management Company : Shiraishi Hinagu Co.
Location: 384-1 Shimojima, Suruga-ku,
Shizuoka City, Shizuoka Prefecture


Mochizuki Doll (online store)
Showroom : 112-19 Yui Kitada, Shimizu-ku,
Shizuoka City
Business hours : 10:00 AM – 6:00 PM

Suruga Hina dolls

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