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What is Nunome inlay?
The story of the Japanese Nunome inlay technique begins in Damascus, Syria. Their technique was called “Damascene”, and it reached Japan via the Silk Road. Typically, Nunome inlay was used to decorate sword fittings and sword guards with gold or silver designs on steel. In 1876, the Japanese government issued the Sword Abolishment Edict and many metalsmiths who made their living by making swords were put out of business. Swordfitting maker, Mitsuyuki Kashima, was one of those affected by the edict.
Example of sword guard fitting
by Master Mitsumasa
What is Kashima-style?
The son of Mitsuyuki Kashima, Mitsunori Kashima, was also affected by the Sword Abolishment Edict, but responded by inventing special tools that allowed him to perform the Nunome inlay technique on precious metals, such as silver, brass, or other metal alloys, instead of steel. This technique came to be called “Kashima-style Nunome”.
Example of Kashima-style Nunome
"Flower Design Nunome Inlay Vase"
by Kazuo Kashima
Who is Kazuo Kashima?
Kazuo Kashima is the only 5th generation master of Nunome technique. He studied under his grandfather, Ikkoku Kashima, who was the Living National Treasure of metalsmithing in Japan.
Master Kashima is willing to teach his techniques to metalsmiths outside of Japan.