On softly tanned deer leather artistic patterns are drawn with vivid lacquer. “Inden”, originally born in Koshu, the current Yamanashi Prefecture, is a rather unique and somewhat peculiar piece of craftwork inspired by the spirit of “samurai”. It separates itself from most traditional Japanese artifacts, which are usually beautiful, calm, simple and sentimental in nature.
The history of Inden goes back some centuries, making an appearance in “The Chronicles of Japan” (or Nihon-shoki), the oldest history book in Japan. In the Shosouin house in Nara, where treasures of extreme value from the 7th and 8th centuries are stored, lay the Inden “tabi” socks (though contemporary ones are mostly made from cotton, they were made from leather back in time), and in the Todaiji temple one can find Inden papeterie.
Takeda Shingen, famously known as the most powerful feudal warlord of the Warring States period, is said to have established the status of Inden as a part of samurai armor. Born in 1521, Shingen took a liking to the light and powerful Inden, used it in his own armor and organized for its production to center itself in Koshu. It was the beginning of the history of Koshu Inden. “Shingen-bukuro”, a deer leather bag big and sturdy enough to hold an entire set of body-armor, was named after Takeda Shingen.
In the 17th century, Uehara Yuhichi, the first president of Inden Workshop, which had begun its business back in 1582, came up with unique techniques to draw patterns on deer leather with lacquer – a revolutionary change in the world of Inden which used to be just the making of patterns with colors by smoking straw or pine resin. Also, the geometric design from India (or Indo in Japanese) was adopted (denrai in Japanese) in its pattern, which is said to be the reason why its name, “Inden,” was established. In addition to its practicality, Inden started to get attention as the cutting edge of fashion, with its adopted samurai taste appealing in this age of peace. In the 19th century, Inden acquired its own status as the local specialty of Yamanashi, as its products received an award at the National Industrial Exhibition, which led to the production of more modern items such as handbags as the demand increased. While its samurai influenced design is appealing in itself, you will find further samurai spirit in its truly durable nature, as it never gets torn no matter how many times you throw it down.
For some reason, we feel protected by strong spirits when wearing Koshu Inden products. After once protecting feudal warlords and emblazoning their valiance, the Koshu Inden now give us the power to overcome various obstacles that we face in life.
3-11-15 Chuo Koufu-shi Yamanashi-ken
Kaiterasu(Yamanashi Prefecture local industry center)
3-13-25 Tokoji Kofu-shi Yamanashi-ken