The hidden playfulness of townspeople—dandy accessory made with every luxury imaginable

Dandy accessory studded with hidden delights 
The culture of townspeople blossomed in the Edo period. In an attempt to regulate the economic power gained by townspeople, the Shogunate would oftentimes issue orders prohibiting indulgence in luxury. Under such circumstances, the townspeople disguised their enjoyment of luxury by using inconspicuous accessories and fabric linings with simple and modest colours (such as brown and grey) and patterns (such as checkered pattern). Pouches were such typical items and can be divided into two types: pocket pouches and pouches for hanging from one’s waist (such as a tobacco pouch). 
Inconspicuous details
This pouch is the same type as that carried by the figure in the ukiyo-e print shown in the previous page. The cylindrical cover is separate from the inside. The case is made from imported woolen cloth, the inside pouch is made from Indian benitōzan fabric and printed cotton. The pouch contains a woodblock-print Buddha image. For this reason, it served as a talisman. 
The emergence of pouch dealers
The Edo period saw greater mobility of people that led to an increase in the demand for pouches for carrying portable items, and which paved the way for the emergence of pouch dealers. Many of such pouches were made to order and rather extravagant. In particular, tobacco pouches were made from various crafts (including pouch finishing, metal ornaments, lacquer, makie and netsuke) created by artisans of the respective field through division of labour. The owner or clerk of a pouch store would take the requests of customers and make adequate orders to the craftsmen. It was a business that required them to be resourceful and have a great sense and taste.
Tobacco pouch made from delightful Indian prints
The arrival of tobacco in Japan along with the European ships in the 16th century led to the widespread smoking habit during the Edo period. By the end of the Edo period over 90% of Japanese men and women had become regular smokers, and it became customary for one to carry their kiseru pipe and pipe tobacco. In those times when entertainment was scarce, having a smoke was a pastime for the Japanese. For this very reason, those who could afford the pleasure were fastidious about the tobacco pouch design.
Tobacco pouch with elegant metallic ornaments
In addition to the practicality of carrying smoking implements, the elegant pouch also served as a decorative accessory on which one sees many personalized motifs that hint at the owner’s occupation, taste and air. The metallic ornaments seen in the image include a butterfly and other playful designs made to match the colour and pattern of the fabric. This tobacco pouch for young women also comes with elegantly designed chains. Metallic ornaments of this kind were often the creations of metallic ornament makers, but ornaments with specific taste were sometimes made by sword ornament makers.
Tobacco case – summer design
From this rattan-woven tobacco case we can see that multiple tobacco cases were custom-made according to the season, place and outfit. This particular case comes with Dutch motifs in a light, summery design, transmitting the sophisticated taste at the time. 
Kinkarakawa tobacco case – the ultimate luxury
Tobacco cases were commonly made using imported materials. Perhaps this was because even such expensive materials could be used if it was for small pouches. In particular, tobacco cases made from kinkarakawa used were exceptionally extravagant, with one worthed the price of a house at the time. 
Tobacco case with Dutch flavour
The netsuke is a coin of the Dutch East India Company and a novel idea. This tobacco pouch is full of Dutch elements that were extremely popular during the latter half of the Edo period. 
Edo makeup pouch with a pocket mirror
The pocket mirror is one of the representative pocket items carried by women between the kimono and the sash on their outings. These pouches would contain a copper mirror, a comb, toothpicks, rouge and other makeup items.
Paper case — Part of every Edoite’s grooming 
The paper case was a pocket case for keeping tissue paper and other small items. Other similar cases were also used to carry memo paper or toothpicks. The sleeves, inside and sash of a kimono are convenient as pockets for keeping one’s necessities in a stylish manner.
An Edo pouch craftsman today
The culture of Edo pouches continued through the Meiji and Taishō periods, resulting in the production of many pouches made using sophisticated techniques. This was due to the fact that makers of sword fittings who lost their jobs as a result of the haitōrei (decree abolishing the wearing of swords) in the Meiji period found their vocation in pouch making. Edo pouches may have been primarily for keeping tobacco, but with the popularization of cigarettes after the Great Kanto Earthquake in 1923, demand for tobacco pouches gradually fell into decline and became hobby items. Despite the decrease in the number of artisans making these pouches, Fujii Naoyuki follows the footsteps of his grandfather and his father who were both makers of Edo pouches to continue with the craft. He also creates tobacco pouches using traditional tools. 
Tools for making tobacco pouches 
The warigo wooden patterns are tools for making pouches that have remain the same since the Edo period. He continues using wooden patterns made by his predecessors to give the pouches a rounded shape and volume. 
Inserting warigo pieces inside a pouch
After the pouch has been sewn up, the wooden patterns are inserted to stretch the pouch. The pouch is gradually fashioned to a round shape with volume by adding thin pieces in the middle. When it becomes a little tight, additional pieces are pounded in between the pieces already inside the pouch by using the uchigi to give the pouch a rounded shape. The pouch is further beaten on the outside and using a leather roller to add more roundedness. Finally, a trowel is used to give the pouch a final touch. Different types of leather have different elasticity and firmness, requiring thus a different number of wooden patterns to adjust the pouch to the desired shape.
Kyoto Women's University, Lifestyle Design Laboratory
Credits: Story

Images provided by:
Hirano Hideo, Kikakudou Collection
Kuipo Co., Ltd, Kuipo Museum
Nakamura Kimitaka
Hujii Naoyuki, Hujii Pouch
Wedge "Hitotoki"

Text:
Tanaka Atsuko

Photo:
Minamoto Tadayuki

English translation:
Eddy Y.L. Chang

This Exhibition is created by:
Sugisima Tsubasa, Kyoto Women's University
Kubo Kaoru, Kyoto Women's University
Ueyama Emiko, Kyoto Women's University

Project Directer:
Maezaki Shinya,Kyoto Women's University
Yamamoto Masako, Ritsumeikan University

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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