A look fixated on fine and gorgeous “tsumami zaiku”

Tsumami zaiku is a traditional craft which has been practiced since the early 19th century to date

“Tsumami zaiku” is a traditional craft which has been practiced since the late Edo period (around 1820) to date. The ornaments made by this technique is indispensable for enhancing the beauty of kimono. According to a record documenting the social customs of the Edo period, Japanese women in the Bunsei period (around 1818 – 1830) wore kanzashi hairpins with chrysanthemum and crane ornaments made with a collection of small pieces of colorful cloths on their shimadamage-style, which was a common hairdo for women at the time.

Kanzashi hairpin with tsumami zaiku ornaments
Beautiful and fine works made with traditional Japanese cloths

Tsumami zaiku is made with small pieces of square cloths. Small cloths are pinched and folded using fingertips and pinchers like origami and the folded cloths are combined to form ornaments. There are two basic pinching techniques: “maru-tsumami (round pinching)” and “ken-tsumami (sword pinching)”. Complex and fine shapes are made using these two techniques.

A set of four maru-tsumami work photos
Round, full and gentle looking maru-tsumami work
A set of four ken-tsumami work photos
Slim, narrow and pointed shaped ken-tsumami work
Traditional tsumami zaiku work digest (video)

Although flower is a typical shape made by tsumami zaiku, it is not the only shape made by the traditional technique. A variety of expressions are possible depending on the creator’s creativity.

Example: bird shaped ornament
Combinations of simple pinched cloths give rise to incredible works

Caring for “eyes”, the lifeline of tsumami zaiku artisans

Tsumami zaiku requires concentration. Good eyes are essential for the meticulous work involved with tsumami zaiku. “Tsumami zaiku strains your eyes more than you realize. You need to concentrate on details, putting a lot of pressures on your eyes. Your eyes become very tired” says Mr. Masayuki Takahashi, the operator of TSUMAMI-DO.

Continues meticulous work with the eyes fixated on the piece
Continues careful and meticulous work with the eyes fixated on the piece

When you keep working on your piece, you overuse your eyes without knowing it. This is a common phenomenon in the modern age. “Rohto V11,” which focuses on easing the overused eyes, is the only eye drop among Rohto Pharmaceutical’s products that contains three kinds of anti-inflammatory substance to effectively suppress the inflammation of overused eyes. Furthermore, a well-balanced mixture of a total of eleven active substances including vitamins and substances that improve the eyes’ focus adjustment function works on various symptoms causing fatigued eyes.

Product photo Rohto V11
“Rohto V11” eases fatigue in the eyes for those who overuse their eyes

“Like everywhere else, the average age of skilled tsumami craftsmen is also high” says Mr.Takahashi. People’s abilities to see change along with aging. Focusing on such change, “Rohto V Active” activates the cornea’s metabolic functions, and replenishes lacrimal fluid substance and eases discomfort in the eyes by suppressing inflammation and itchiness. It is essential that tsumami zaiku craftsmen take care of their strained eyes. Quality Rohto Pharmaceutical’s eye drops offer a simple and reliable solution for their eyes.

Product photo Rohto V Active
“Rohto V Active” effectively eases fatigued eyes caused by aging

Tsumami zaiku is a traditional craft anyone can try

TSUMAMI-DO, located in Tokyo’s Asakusabashi, runs several different workshops where participants can make their own accessories. English webpage is available and foreign visitors can also take part in workshops. “An increasing number of foreign customers are taking part in our workshops” says Ms. Tomomi Yamashita, the operator of the shop. Detailed finger work and the strength of finger pressures need to be learned at first hand. “With tsumami zaiku, using one’s fingers is more important than trying to understand by head” she says.

Ms. Yamashita's photo
Ms.Yamashita responding to questions from a foreign customer in English

At “tsumami workshop” you can select which type of accessory you want to make from four different types. The workshop takes from 40 minutes to an hour, and a reservation can be made from four participants. The fee ranges from 850 yen to 1,600 yen (per person) depending on what you want to make, and the price includes the cost of materials. For enquiries about workshops, contact TSUMAMI-DO in English via the website or e-mail.

Workshop scene
Detailed advice is provided for each participant

TSUMAMI-DO workshop offers real life tsumami zaiku experience

Open: 11:00 am – 6:00 pm, Tue – Sat (Closed on Sun, Mon and public holidays)

Address: 3-20-16, Asakusabashi, Taito-ku, Tokyo, 111-0053

Access: 7 minute walk from the JR Sobu Line’s Asakusabashi Station East Exit or the Toei Asakusa Line’s Asakusabashi Station A3 Exit

In order to enjoy tsumami zaiku for life

“After a day of concentration, my eyes feel tired especially at night” says Ms. Sanae Takeyari, a lecturer of TSUMAMI-DO’s workshop. Sleep cures fatigue in the eyes. “Rohto Youjunsui” takes advantage of the eyes’ abilities to recover during sleep and slowly eases the tension of the eyes overnight. When you overused your eyes with detailed work, apply a drop of “Rohto Youjunsui” before going to bed.

Product photo Rohto Youjunsui
“Rohto Youjunsui” takes advantage of the eyes’ ability to recover during sleep

“I often hear from middle aged participants that when their eyes become tired, it is hard to see details of dark colors like black and dark blue” says Ms.Takeyari. Eyesight deteriorates with age. In order to maintain eyesight, well balanced daily diet becomes a key. Supplements are also a good way to complement nutrients. “Rohto V5 Tablets” is a supplement that contains carefully selected ingredients which helps to maintain one’s ability to see. Take one tablet a day and maintain your eyesight.

Product photo Rohto V5 Tablets
Take one tablet a day and maintain your eyesight

“Smart Camp” allows you to experience Rohto Pharmaceutical’s health support program

“Smart Camp” is a shop run based on the concept of making Rohto Pharmaceutical’s welfare facilities available for the general public. Visitors can enjoy a café that serves Chinese herbal medicine dishes and therapies that tackle fatigue deep inside the body. There are two such shops in Tokyo and Osaka.

Tsumami zaiku is a miniature traditional craft in which beautiful ornaments are made by pinching and folding small pieces of cloths. Infinite possibilities are hidden within the miniature world of tsumami zaiku. When you visit Japan, why don’t you try making your own piece of work by taking part in traditional craft workshops offered at various locations including Tokyo?