Kamakura- Bori, the Buddhist technique renovated for our everyday usage.

Kamakura, Kanagawa

is known for its tourism and you might recognize it’s Great Buddha and Tsuruoka Hachiman Gu Shrine. One of the traditional crafts of Kamakura is the “Kamakura-Bori”. If you were wondering, “Bori” means “carve” in Japanese. This time, the JapanMade team had a chance to go to “Hasshodo”, which is a Kamakura-Bori store located in the heart of Kamakura.

Kamakura-Bori is known for its lustrous carving and the way the craftsmen carve the katsura tree or the Ginkgo tree can also give you a warm feeling. After the craftsman finishes carving the wood, it is passed on to another craftsmen to add the finishing touches with lacquer.

From Buddhist Equipments to Our Everyday Lives.

Kamakura-Bori is indeed a “Traditional” craft, but it has always been evolving to suit our everyday lives. The skills used to make Kamakura-Bori first came to Japan from China during the Kamakura period (1185-1333). It was first a technique to create Buddhist altar equipments, but most of the Buddhist sculptors lost their jobs during the Meiji Restoration. So the sculptors renovated and arranged the technique to create everyday items. That became Kamakura-Bori that we know today. Not only do they create dishes, trays, and accessories, we were able to see photos of Kamakura-Bori guitar.

Mr. Suzuki from Hasshodo taught us about the important aspects of Kamakura-Bori items. He stated that even though he carves the wood to make the trays, it is designed to be flat when you look at it from the side, giving it stability when carrying cups. When you carve out a design on a piece of wood, it usually creates bumps and it becomes unstable. But a skilled Kamakura-Bori craftsmen can actually carve out a design while giving it stability, increasing the usability of the item. Not only do they just carve out a usable design, they calculate how the shadow will give an elegant effect to the item.

The lustrous carving technique that was on the verge of getting lost in history has been updated to serve our everyday lives. We recommend you to go visit Hasshodo or the other Kamakura-Bori stores when you have a chance to go to Kamakura. We are sure you will find a great item that will enrich your everyday life.



9 min walk from JR Kamakura Station
1-11-4 Yukino-shita Kamakura, Kanagawa

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