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Check out Enshu Onigawara, aTraditional Japanese Craft!

This is the video “Enshu Onigawara: The Last Craftspeople(遠州鬼瓦 最後の鬼板師)”, which shows the process of creating Onigawara, the traditional Japanese roof ornament demons. Traditionally, Onigawara were put on the roofs of houses, shrines, and temples.

The craftspeople making Onigawara are called “Oniitashi.”
This video features Mr. Takashi Nagura, the fourth Enshu Onihide, who has been creating Enshu Onigawara in Fukuroi, Shizuoka prefecture.
He continues creating Onigawara with his own hands, and with the help of Mr. Motohisa Nagura, the next successor (the fifth Onihide), in order to save the traditional Japanese craft.

The History of Enshu Onigawara

Image of Enshu Onigawara
Photo:Enshu Onigawara

Enshu Onigawara have ancient roots dating back to the 14th century, when local tilers produced smoked roof tiles for the construction of Sunpu Castle (駿府城, Sunpujo).
Made on the coasts of Ohta River (太田川, Ohtagawa) and Tenryu River (天竜川, Tenryugawa), the tiles are traditional crafts which have been held in high regard since long ago.

Created by combining traditional Japanese art techniques, the demon roof tiles look very impressive as if they were actually artworks. Made in a way that actual spirits seem to be housed within them, Enshu Onigawara haver been popular ever since.

How to Make Enshu Onigawara: The Skills of Onigawara Craftsmen

Made from high quality clay from the local soil of the Enshu area’s rice fields, Enshu Onigawara boast a beautiful silvery luster.
To create Enshu Onigawara, craftspeople first mold the shape of the clay with a gold spatula before baking it. After that, they go over the process of polishing the tiles over and over.

From 2:02 in the video you can watch the work scene where craftspeople draw a rough sketch on clay based on the framework, and you can watch craftspeople molding the shape of the tile from 3:16.
From 7:40, they use a special tool to add fine engravings to the clay for gradually creating the powerful facial expression of Enshu Onigawara.
Finally, you can see craftspeople baking tiles in a large furnace of the workshop from 9:03.

Enshu Onigawara, one of Japan's traditional crafts, also have implications as amulets or guardian deities for buildings.
Most Enshu Onigawara have angry demonlike faces. Since the Heisei period, however, new designs of demon tiles have been created and now other types of facial expressions such as smiling demons or humorous tiles of Kappa (A mythical Japanese creature) have begun to rise in popularity.

Check out Artworks by Onigawara Craftsmen!

Oniita craftsmen don't only produce authentic demon faces, but also demon-faced nameplates for entrances, family emblems, and display boards.
Moreover, they also sell a wide range of local crafts that can be used in daily life, such as pen-holders with demon faces, artistic daruma dolls, demon-faced mail boxes, key chains, and more.

Mori town (森町, Morimachi) of Shizuoka prefecture, offers Enshu Onigawara trial tickets at Onigawara workshops to those who donate more than 12,000 yen (~$110 USD) as a hometown tax return gift. In Shizuoka prefecture, people contrive ways to make traditional Japanese crafts closer to our everyday lives.

Overview of Enshu Onigawara

Enshu Onigawara, are generally attached to roofs as you can see at 0:38 in this video, or it is also placed in front of the entrance like you can see from 4:26 in the video.
These days, small items in the motif of Onigawara are also popular.
In this video you can see interviews of some Onigawara craftsmen.

From 2:40 in this video, you can see the interview of Mr. Takashi Nagura, the fourth Onihide; He talks about what made him pursue becoming an Enshu Onigawara craftsperson. From 3:34 he speaks about what he thinks about traditional craft products waning in popularity. From 6:09 you can also watch another interview of Mr. Motohisa Nagura, the fifth Onihide, talking about what he thinks about the future of Enshu Onigawara.

If this video makes you interested in Enshu Onigawara, we recommend that you get artwork of Onigawara or visit Shizuoka to try creating Onigawara.

【Official Website】 Enshu Onigawara: Shizuoka Local Craft Promotion Committee

Written By
Jul. 8, 2021
坂崎 なお(Nao Sakazaki)
Interested in Japanese culture and traditions! I'll be introducing lovely scenery to you!

1 Comment

  • 25 days ago
    It's really cool seeing the craftsmanship and also the history. I like how you can see the previous craftsmen as well. The way the video ends with the tiles being put in the kiln is perfect too
Enshu Onigawara: Traditional Crafts Said to House the Souls of the Demons Themselves! Only the Most Skilled Craftsman Can Produce Their Soul Piercing Glares. These Master Artisans in Fukuroi, Shizuoka Share Their Thoughts on Enshu Onigawara
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