Warazaiku, a craft made of straw, was first mentioned in the genesis story of Japan compiled in 712. Tightly intertwined with agriculture and the Shinto religion, it was traditionally crafted by farmers with the byproduct of rice harvest. Made by coiling the straw between the palms of the craftspeople’s hands, prayers for good fortune are interwoven into the amulet.
About the craft & people
They are handwoven by Warazaiku Takubo in Hinokage-cho, close to Takachiho region, where legends say that the grandson of the Shinto sun goddess and mythical ancestress of the Japanese imperial family, descended down with a sheaf of rice - in hopes that Japan is blessed with an abundance of rice.
Thankfully, with his hopes realized, Warazaiku became a craft prevalent amongst farmers to make everyday items, including sandals, food storage, and ornaments. But, with the current use of heavy machinery for rice harvest, the straws are cut too short to be used for this craft. Mr. Yoichiro Kai of Takubo is now preserving this declining art by spending three quarters of the year to prepare the straw - oftentimes facing challenges of the fluctuating and unstable climate of the region.
三本房（Sanbonhusa) - Translated to “three tassels,” this is a traditional Shimenawa, a type of Warazaiku that is first mentioned in Japan’s origin story. It is often tied around a place to ward off evil spirits or denote its purity and sanctity.