A Comparison of Traditional Craftsmanship from Japanese and Welsh Cultures

On the 20th of September 2019, the ninth Rugby World Cup commenced in Ajinomoto Stadium, Tokyo, Japan. This is a great achievement for Japan, as it is the first time that the tournament will be held in Asia. The Welsh rugby team will be competing in this Rugby World Cup and (as they are ranked in the top 5 global rugby teams and won the six nations tournament with a grand slam earlier this year) we expect them to achieve tremendous success!

Therefore, to honour Japan for their hospitality and to celebrate the (hopeful) victory of Wales; we created this blog to show appreciation for both cultures… specifically traditional craftsmanship from both cultures.

A Brief History.

JAPANESE CHOPSTICKS initiated in China and were brought to Japan around 500 C.E. Originally in Japan, chopsticks were used in religious ceremonies because it was believed that they served as a bridge between humans and the divine. They began to be used for everyday eating around the 10th century.

WELSH LOVESPOONS have a history rooted in the cawl spoon. Centuries ago, many people in Wales would carve intricate designs into their cawl spoons to make them more decorative, and these spoons would then continue to be used to eat the popular traditional Welsh broth. It is unclear when the spoons deviated from being a culinary utensil and, instead, became the unique decorative ornament we know and love, but the oldest surviving Welsh Love Spoon (dating back to the 17th century) appears to be the product of a great deal of evolution upon the original style of the cawl spoon. Some time before the earliest Welsh Love Spoon was crafted, the tradition had become a symbol to display a man's affection for his love interest.

Materials and Crafting.

JAPANESE CHOPSTICKS were originally joined at the top however were separated for standardised eating in the 10th century. Japanese chopsticks are tapered along their length, to a very fine point, and are much shorter than other chopsticks. They were initially crafted from bamboo, then lacquered wood. For wealthy consumers, precious metals such as gold and ivory were used. Modern designs of Japanese chopsticks may include astrological signs, flora of seasons, or even animal characters. Chopsticks made from willow are popular wedding gifts because the wood is long lasting, hence it is a symbol of infinite love.

WELSH LOVESPOONS were originally carved from Welsh hard woods. The spoons would be all different shapes and sizes, because they were all completely unique to the crafter. Lovespoons can feature many intricate carved symbols. A few examples: an angel symbolising protection; Celtic knotwork symbolising eternal love; a dove symbolising peace; or chain links symbolising a wish to be together forever.

Current Practice.

JAPANESE CHOPSTICKS continue to be used to eat most of the traditional Japanese dishes. There are many rules of etiquette to follow when using chopsticks in Japan, as they still have great symbolism in Japanese culture.

WELSH LOVESPOONS are still a widely appreciated Welsh tradition, although they now tend to be decorative, rather than functional. Lovespoons are given at important milestones in people’s lives, to commemorate these special occasions. Engagements, weddings, anniversaries and christenings are just a few examples.

To purchase a welsh lovespoon to commemorate a special event in your life or in the life of a loved one, or maybe to commemorate this year’s Rugby World Cup visit our selection at https://angelwoodcraft.co.uk/shop