What is Toyooka Zaifu
Toyooka, Japan's largest bag-making region,
Toyooka, Japan's premier bag-making region.
We want to pass on the skills and pride of Made in Japan into perpetuity.
The craftsmen and women who uphold the art of wallet making in Japan's various wallet-making regions are getting older.
It was with the desire to pass on their precious skills to future generations that Toyooka Zaifu was born.
While there were not that many companies in Toyooka that make wallets and small purses, the town possesses many skills that have been built up over its long history of bag-making.
It occurred to us that perhaps we could acquire the skills to make wallets as well.
We began the project by inviting instructors from other wallet-making regions, but our artisans soon became bewildered with the various differences between making bags and making wallets.
Even with the simple act of polishing the edge, or koba, if the finish is even slightly rough, it is very noticeable.
Things like the thinness of the leather used for the turned edges, or engaeshi, and the fineness of the folds, or hida, were similar, yet also very different.
Making wallets requires an even greater delicateness of technique.
Several years have now passed since the Toyooka Zaifu project began.
The dedication of the artisans to improving their skills and the development carried out by the various businesses involved have borne fruit, and little-by-little, the number of certified products has grown.
Engaeshi (Turned Edges)
The leather used for the engaeshi, or turned edges, is just 0.3 mm thick.
The sections used on the corners are skived even further and folded into fine, radiating pleats in a technique known as kikuyose.
Kobamigaki (Edge Polishing)
The koba, or cut edges of the leather, have a beautiful, natural shine.
A chemical agent is applied to the fuzzy raw edge of the leather and left to dry before polishing. This process is repeated multiple times.