Friday, August 31, 2007

INDEN - One of Japanese traditional leather

We Japanese started brain tan from before 700 A.C. The techniques are came from Korea after 600 A.C. and were progressed by our ancient people.
The techniques had been continued till 1800 A.C. But when the after opened the country to foreign intercourse then European tanning method was introduced, Our ancient techniques gradually became obsoleted.

However I can introduce you 2 famous Japanese traditional tanning techniques.
Today, I introduce one of those.

INDEN leather is really famous not only domestic but also world wide. INDEN have used deer skin and they had tanned with rotten cow brain till about 100 year ago. But they use formalin now. INDEN's distinctive feature is used URUSHI "the sap of the Japanese lacquer (a kind of poison ivy)" for the colors.
INDEN is the grain off leather but they burn the surface with iron then it become smooth surface like as the grain on leather.
Their knowledge is awesome and their techniques are particular but they don't share it. But they have many successors so the INDEN shall continue to the future and build up their new traditions.

For INDEN details :- Family craftsman airs inden's secrets

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Japanese tanner is.... or was.......

I tanned a few deer hide with wet scrape techniques. And I will continue it but use dry scrape techniques.

By the way, I have other blogs. These are Japanese blog. I have posted about my tanning. Then some people contacted with me.
I introduce you about it today.

Well, here is good email which I sent to my master today. So I paste it.

Our SAMURAI people was the top status. But the tanner is the most lower status. Our old people still distinguish tanner. Tanner was recognized as the same states with domestic animal. Almost them still live in the place which is just like as Indian reservation. So the distinguish is still there in our country.
So I honest say, this distinguish was my highest hurdle. Because our family was SAMURAI. So my families opposed to tanning animal. And Japanese tanners did not want to tell their knowledges to us. So I asked to teach me to you(maybe you are wondering that "Why Hilo asked really basic techniques to me..... his country has such a awesome tanning techniques" ).
But now, I succeeded to tan a few animals. And I am posting about it to my Japanese blog. I honest say, it was my propaganda. I guess it was a shocking thing for our community. But I guess I got success. Because a lot of Japanese viewed my blog and interested in tanning. Moreover a lot of tanner viewed too and interested in me then some tanner contacted with me. They wish to support my act. Like as HIMEJI SHIRO KAWA people.
Now, my family support me too.
I wish to destroy such a stupid distinguish.

I will post about HIMEJI SHIRO KAWA tomorrow.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Gifts from MATAGI friend

I was given a bear's lower jaw from my MATAGI friend. He also gave, dried wild boar's gall bladder, bear fat oil, and bear meat which was already cooked by him.

Our authentic people use dried wild boar's gall bladder for medicine. I heard it really work for a kind of bad shaped stomach and hangover. Bear's gall bladder more work than wild boar's but it is really expensive.
I tried to take today. It was really bitter. But Koro was really interested in. So I gave it small fragment. He ate that! Moreover he looked he wanted more!

The bear who was owned this lower jaw was caught in a trap. So few teeth were cracked. The bear seems run riot in the stockade.

Bear oil is used for medicine too. I heard it works for burn, chilblains, wound(gash or other), etc...... Or woman can use it like as facial cream. I heard it really good work.

I ate the bear meat yesterday night. It was a kind of food served in the pot. It was so dellicious! Then, we became pep. recovered our spirits. Of course Koro too!

Friday, August 24, 2007

Tanning Japanese deer

I caught a cold yesterday. But fine today.
Here, Kobe, is really hight humidity this week. It really tire us. Especially Koro. He has really nice pelt. But I heard from someone that dogs protect their body from hot weather by their pelts. So maybe they don't feel too hot as us........ well, I wish so....... lol.

Now, I have tanned a few deer skins. Sorry for I did not write about it, moreover I have not written anything... lol.
First, I was given a deer hide from same MATAGI - Japanese bear hunter - who gave me the bear. It was really small 1 year's deer. The skin was 120cm about (4 ft.).
Japanese deer is the same form with Red deer. But not so big. And they are really delicious but their hide are thin than American deer. My first hide was really thin. That was really hard to scrape grain.
I tanned this deer with wet scrape techniques. I learned those techniques from books, a forum, from a my friend.
I read Steven & Tamara's book mainly. Also read the Jim Riggs's book, and visited Matt's web site. My friend Dixie gave me some suggestive ideas however she is dry scrape tanner. I intend to tan with dry scrape techniques from my next hide as Dixie's advices. Because the wet scrape techniques make too stink for our housing statement. Moreover the Lakota people use dry scrape methods.

I use pvc beam. and a little sharp edged curve wet scraper which was given from Dixie. I bought Matt's wet scraper so I will try it next fleshing.
I did not use any chemicals.

I start the first deer tanning from March 12th and done May 23th. I took a break and preseved it in halfway (It required proccess). And it needed a long time for soaking the skin. So actualy I needed maybe 2 weeks.

This was the first experience to braintan and deer. But I really like my first brain tanned deer hide.
I make some small pouchs with this hide.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

The Bear hide was.........

After membranning, I did softening the bear on the frame. I used staking tool which was made by myself. And I trimmed excess edges but I failed it. Trimmed too much. Really regret.
The bear hide looks became good fur. But it was little greasy. So I washed with dish soap twice. However it was still greasy.
Then I used kerosene. I did not soak it in kerosene. I only rub it to the hair and wipe it. It looked work than dish soap.
Anyway, my bear hide still keep good condition. I really thank it for quills who is my tanning and philosophy teacher. And I also thank to everyone who helped my project especialy Yuki who is my wife. Oh! I forget I have to thank to Koro who is my dog!
I also thank to god for gave me such chance to tan.

Tomorrow, I will post about the next hide....... Japanese deer.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Sorry for long time!

Now, sorry for long time. It 8 months past?? After that, I succeeded to tan my bear. And I tanned some deer hide. Those deer is not the kind of whitetail or other kind of Odocoileus Virginianus. It belong Red deer but really particular. We call it NIHON-JIKA. It means "Japanese deer". NIPPON means "Japan", and JIKA or SHIKA means "deer". Latin scientific name is "Cervus nippon". I will post about it from tomorrow!!

Thursday, December 28, 2006


The bear hide completely dry today. So I scraped remaining membrane by scraper and pumice.

These are my tools which I used today. From top left: pumice (bought from Traditional Tanners), scraper (bought this brade from Traditional Tanner and attached a parts of "photo stand". It looks hard to grip, but it is really useful and poweful), Koro (healer...... I must need), From bottom left; wet stone, clipper.

My scraper is gripped like that. The brade is really sharp so you should not let your dog lick.

Scraping by my photostand scraper

By pumice. It is hard work but interesting!

The hide was completely dried, but after rubbed by pumice, it looks a little soft than before. But it still looks like raw hide..... lol, Raw hide but it is oily, so flexible. I guess I don't use oil for softening it......... but my teacher said that you should use it...... OK, I believe my teacher.
We will have snow tomorrow. So I will leave it then damp it the day after tomorrow, and softening it the next day.