Tools Used During the History of Meguro (QR Code #5)

Here are some of tools used during the History of Meguro. Each number corresponds to the the number written next to the tools name on the display.

1. Furoguwa (Pedestal Hoe)


In the Meguro area, this wooden base hoe is called a kuwa.

It is used to plow fields and make ridges and ditches.

The metal blade and the wooden handle are fitted in the wooden base called the furo.

There are somewhere the handle is put in a hole in the pedestal and secured by a wedge and others that use a branch to make it out of piece of wood.

The wooden part is mainly made of hardwoods like oak and chestnut trees. The metal blade is typically 15–25cm wide.

4. Kuroguwa (Bank Hoe)

In the Meguro area, this bank hoe is called a habata and is a type of wooden base hoe.

It is used to clear the wasteland called araku.

So it can cut through large tree roots, the blade is wider than other hoes.

Because this is a heavy hoe, the handle is made short, so it is easier to carry.

2 and 3. Bicchuuguwa (Fork-hoe)


In the Meguro area, this fork-hoe is called mitsuma and yotsuma. Made of iron, they have from two to six forks and are hoes that are lightweight and dig deep. In the same way as the wooden base hoe, this fork-hoe was used for plowing fields and making ridges.

Depending on the number of forks, they are called different names. For example, hoes with three forks were called mitsuko, mitsumata, or sanbon hoes. In the Himonya area, the four-forked hoe, yotsuma, was more common than the three-forked hoe, mitsuma.

Because the Bitchu-guwa has less surface area than the wooden base hoe, it is more difficult for soil to stick to the blades, so it is useful when plowing clay ground. The angle from the handle to the forks is typically about 70 degrees.

7. Furikomijyoren


In growing wheat, the Furikomijyoren is a tool that was used to add soil around the base of the wheat.

The work of adding soil by scooping up soil and depositing it at the base of the wheat is important because it spreads out the stalks which allow the wind to pass through and for sunlight to reach the base of the stalks, which strengthens the wheat. The part used to scoop the soil is made of a metal net and iron wire, and the handle is typically made from Japanese cedar or Japanese cypress. The soil is scooped up, and any clumps, weed roots, or debris is discarded, and the remaining soil is put at the base of the wheat.

The furikomijyoren displayed here has a screw at the base of the handle for adjusting the angle. After WWII, this tool was improved to be adjustable to an angle to match the height of the person.

9. Tenbinbou (yoke)


A pole that can hang a basket or container on both ends and be carried by one or two people.

The cross section is oval-shaped, and depending on the number of people carrying it, the way it was used differs. When two people carry the yoke, it is turned so the wide part rests on the shoulders, and when one person carries it, the yoke is turned so the narrow side rests on the shoulder.

The length was about 1.7–1.8 meters.

8. Koebishaku (manure scooper)

This is a ladle for scooping up human manure.

There are two types of koebishaku. One koebishaku is used when moving manure from the tameoke (a container where manure is accumulated) to the manure bucket. It has a long handle.

The ladle is 20 cm in diameter and 16–17 cm deep. The handle is about 1.5–1.6 meters.

Because the other type of scooper is used for spreading the manure from the manure bucket onto the fields, it has a short handle and a small ladle.

The ladle is 16–17cm in diameter and 13–14cm deep. The handle is about 40 cm.

However, in the Meguro area, the long handle scoop displayed here was used for spreading the manure from the manure basket onto the fields.

10. Koeoke (manure bucket)

This is a bucket used for carrying manure.

For farmers long ago, the manure was a very important fertilizer for growing crops.

Because manure is easily spilled, it is difficult to carry, so the bucket needed to have modifications. The koeoke displayed here has a lid so that it does not spill when being carried.

11. Oshikiri (push cutter)


A tool for cutting straw.

In other areas, straw is used as feed for horses and cattle. In the Meguro area, it was mainly used as an ingredient in fertilizer.

To use this tool, since the blade doesn’t move, you hold the base down with your foot. You then raise the handle and, with the other hand, put the straw across the blade and drop the handle, and the straw is cut.


The blade is fixed, and the handle moves up and down.

e (handle)

daigi (base)

14. “Mangoku” (rice sieve)


A tool that was developed to be a sieve or screen used in the sorting of unhulled, as well as unpolished, rice.

After the rice is harvested, the unhulled heads are dried, and then the work of hulling the rice must be done. The mangoku is a tool that was used after the hulling to sort the hulled and unhulled rice. It was also called a sengoku, sengoku-doshi, or mangoku-doshi.


A wooden frame with a wire mesh screen. Depending on the mixture of what needs sorting, the mesh net can be changed.

The mixture to be sorted is poured in here.

The mixture falls down the top area, and the small pieces drop directly down. Larger pieces continue down the screen. The screen separates the polished rice and allows the removal of the broken and bad pieces.

The angle of the tool can be changed to accommodate various things to be sorted. The main point of this screen was that the angle is adjustable.

18. Sentakuita (washboard)


A tool used since long ago for washing clothes.

Sentakuita were used from the Meiji and Taisho eras. Soil is removed by rubbing the clothing against the grooves. Before sentakuita were widely used, clothing was washed by being trampled underfoot. Many methods were used for removing soil, such as soaking in lye or tea or in broths made from fruits or vegetables.


The board was about the size of a 60 cm tall x 30 cm wide cutting board and was commonly made from pine.

There are many styles of boards, including ones that had grooves or a wavy section and more grooves on the back.

19. Tarai (Washbasin)

A level bucket used for washing one’s hands and feet and body, and also doing laundry. Like a bucket or barrel, it is a tool used for holding cold and warm water and for washing the body and doing laundry. The method of making this container used long rectangular boards and a taga or hoop began in the Kamakura era and became popular in the Muromachi era. Until that time, the main method used was to take a single board and bend it to form the container. The new method allowed for strength, better sealing, and freely sizing the construction.


Taga (hoop)

The sides of the bucket are bound by hoops made of bamboo or metal. As the wood becomes dry, it shrinks, and the hoop can become loose, making the bucket useless.

23. Hagama


This is a tool to cook rice in a kitchen furnace.

The hiragama that is used for boiling or the sengama or chagama for roasting are all different shapes and sizes. This hagama, which became common, since rice became the main staple in the Edo period, is known for the brim on the side. The number of describes the size of a hagama “go” of rice it can cook, or by the diameter of the rim (shaku and “sun”).

For example, if the hagama is for cooking between 31.5 and 70.5 kg of rice, the diameter of the rim is between 1 shaku and 4 to 8 “sun” (about 50 cm).


There were many sizes for kettles.

A thick and heavy wooden lid,

A brim

The hagama is made of iron.

A kettle is best used in a kitchen furnace. The brim keeps the fire in the kitchen furnace and also allows the heat to hit the base of the hagama more effectively. The brim also prevents the contents from boiling over onto the fire.

A heavy wooden lid was used because a heavy lid gives less chance for it to boil over. A heavy lid also keeps the vapors inside and steams the contents of the bowl.

20. Nabe (Pot)


This is an iron cooking tool used to cook miso soup or stew food, by hanging it over a Japanese sunken fireplace (irori) with a hook.

This is a cooking tool for stewing, frying, and roasting. It has mainly been used to make miso soup or stew food. A deep nabe was used for long cooking, and a shallow nabe was used for short stewing or roasting.

Nabes were usually 18–47 cm and were used for cooking food for 3–30 people.

Displayed are a shallow nabe used for roasting and a deep nabe used for stewing.



The gaiji-type nabe has two tabs on the rim of the nabe, and extending from the tabs is a handle.

The type with the tab on the inside is called a naiji type and is designed to keep the fire from burning the handle.

20. Ohitsu (Rice-serving Bowl)


This is a container to keep cooked rice from losing its taste.

If cooked rice is left in the kama that it was cooked in, it will cool down quickly and get soggy, because the kama is made from metal. The ohitsu is made of wood and will soak the excess moisture, which keeps the rice tasting good until it is delivered to the table.

Most ohitsu are made from plain Japanese cypress or cedar, and some were made with Japanese lacquer for guests.

Ohitsu are made from rectangular wood and steel hoops, like a barrel or a Japanese bucket.

Ohitsu are usually 12–30 cm in diameter, and 12-20 cm in depth.

Meals in the past

Breakfast was between 6:00–7:00 am and was rice, soup, and Japanese picked vegetables.

Lunch was at around 11:00 am and was rice cooked in the morning, soup, Japanese picked vegetables, and stewed vegetables.

Dinner was at around 6:00 pm and was rice, soup, Japanese picked vegetables, and fish.

Some families would eat dumplings or sweet potatoes for a snack at around 3:00 pm.

Rice at the time had a lot of Japanese millet or barley mixed with it. Rice mixed with barnyard grass was made sweet. Also rice was sometimes cooked with vegetables, as well. Japanese picked vegetables were usually Chinese cabbage, turnip, or daikon radish pickled in salt water.

21. Ohitsu Cozy

A container for keeping an ohitsu warm.

This is a heat-containing tool that keeps rice warm on a cold winter’s day.

It is created with hay that has been woven in circles.

26. Jizai-Kagi


This is a tool hung over the irori (sunken fireplace) in order to hook the cooking tools, such as pots and iron kettles.

This is called jizai-kagi (free hook) because the level is freely adjustable. The hook is placed in order to adjust the level at the desired distance from the fire, allowing the user to be able to control the heat dynamics. There are different kinds of jizai-kagi: One is with a central rod surrounded by bamboo with an adjusting part; the other is with a central rod and a stopper that allows the user to adjust its level through friction.

The one displayed here is the latter with friction.

Shinbou (central rod)

Tomegi or Yokogi (stopper) (It is also called Kagitsukesama in some areas.) This part could be a lucky charm such as a model of carp, red sea bream, small mallet, or fan. This culture is a culture desiring for happiness, which can be seen in how they placed the stopper and the hook. For example, the stopper with the shape of the fish faces to the North, and the hook itself is usually facing towards the door of the house, inviting good spirits in.


Kagi (hook) This is the part where the cooking tools are hung.

27. Haribako (Sewing Box)


This is a box for sewing materials.

In the past, colanders with paper pasted on them, or an oboke (a bucket used to bind hemp fibers together to make hemp strings) were used to contain sewing materials, but gradually, boxes exclusively for sewing materials were used.

When people used to make their own kimonos, sewing was a necessary skill for women. Therefore, young women would learn to sew as they came close to marriage.


A place for a pin cushion

A drawer for small items like scissors, spools, a tracing spatula, and small pieces of cloth

28. Hinoshi


This has the same function as a modern iron.

This tool was used for flattening creases and making finishing touches on clothes. This was an essential tool for flattening creases on kimonos as well.

This tool was used to flatten the clothes by putting burning coal into the fire pocket, and then pressing the bottom of the pocket against the clothes with another piece of cloth in between with the heat.

This tool sometimes left burn marks on the clothes, because unlike the modern iron, there were no heat adjusters.

Hire (fire pocket). This is a pocket for the burning coal. This was made of bronze, ceramics, or brass.

The handle was wooden.

The bottom was polished, and is made to slide well.

29. Tansu (chest)


This is a piece of furniture used to store clothes. Drawers are a major characteristic of tansu. Up until the Edo period, kimonos were stored in large boxes called nagamochi and karabitsu. Tansu first period appeared in the Edo period and became widespread, as it was easy to organize things in them and take things out of them. This change in storage methods was a major breakthrough.

After this period, the range of objects stored in tansu expanded. The way drawers and doors were placed on tansu also changed. There was even more diversity in tansu starting from the Meiji Period, including affixing Western-style hinged doors to them.

The upper part of the tansu on display has affixed to a clasp as shown in the left diagram. It was designed like this so that two people could move the tansu by pulling out the clasps and using a pole.

Paulownia wood is often used to make tansu in order to protect kimonos in the drawers from humidity, dryness and damage from insects. This exhibit is made from paulownia wood.

Other types of wood used include Japanese cedar, Japanese cypress, chestnut, and Japanese zelkova.

30. Oil Lamps


Lamps came into wide use during the Meiji Period. The item on display is to be hung, but there were also fixed and portable lamps.

The cap was placed on the container of oil, and a cotton string was threaded through it into the oil, which it then burned.

Brightness was reduced if soot accumulated on the lamp chimney, so it had to be cleaned regularly. Lamp cleaning was the work of children whose hands could reach into the tight space.


Hoya (Lamp chimney)

Cover over the flame. The top was narrow to make it easier for warm air to escape from the top, improving air circulation inside, and increasing the combustion efficiency.

Kuchigane (Cap)

The place through which the wick was threaded.

Aburatsubo Oil container

The place where oil was added.

31. Shokudai (Candlestick)

One form of lighting fixture using a lighted candle.

Candlesticks were used from a long time ago, but they were mostly placed in front of Buddhist altars or used as room decorations. They came into wide use as lighting fixtures during the Edo Period. However, candles were still expensive, so their use in homes was limited. The item on display has a metal ring to hold an oil pan and a projection to hold a candle, and it is thought that this was so it could be used in two different ways. When a candle was used, the metal ring served the function of preventing the candle from falling over.


Metal ring to hold an oil pan

Projection to hold a candle

32. Chabudai (Low Dining Table)


A small folding table.

Low dining tables appeared during the Meiji Period and came into wide use mostly in urban areas. The most common shapes were round, square, or rectangular (a ratio of length and width about 1:1.5). Low tables had folding legs and were small in size, and after use, they could be moved or stored away easily. This was the main difference from large tables that were difficult to move. Because they could be moved and stored away, it is thought that at first they came into wide use in urban areas, which had relatively more houses with small rooms.

General figures for size and number of people who could use low dining tables.

(Data is from the early Showa Period, but it is thought that this was the most common size of low dining tables)


Legs fold up

The lid is turned over for use

Before low dining tables came into use, each family member had their own dining table called ozen. A box-type table was most commonly used for ozen, with a personal bowl and chopsticks stored inside. For a meal, the lid was turned over to be used for eating over it.

34. Kotatsu (A low table with a heat source)


A heating apparatus whereby a container containing lighted charcoal was placed inside a wooden frame, which was then covered with a futon.

At first a small fireplace was made in the floor of the room into which were placed ashes, glowing embers, and charcoal, and a wooden frame was placed over it for heating. In the early Edo Period, tables with a foot warmer inside came into wide use, and eventually an earthen vessel was used to contain the heating material for safety, and the Safety Kotatsu was born.

The development of the portable heating apparatus made it possible to use table heaters in rooms without a fireplace.


Wooden frame

Charcoal was placed inside a container inside the wooden frame.

36. Okigotatsu (Portable Heating Tables)

A device with embers, charcoal and ashes inside, covered by a futon. It was used by rolling up a small cushion and then covering it with a futon. It was sometimes placed inside at the foot of a futon when sleeping.

The size was generally 30 cm wide, 20 cm long, and 20 cm tall. A fire container was placed inside. In the Meiji Period, tile or earthenware portable heating tables quickly came into wide use.


Charcoal container

Tile portable heating table

35. Hibachi (Charcoal Brazier)


Heating device using charcoal.

Used by placing lighted charcoal in the center of the ashes using chopstick tongs. A trivet could be placed above the ashes and water heated in an iron kettle.

In the middle of the Meiji Era, because charcoal-making technology advanced and charcoal became easy to obtain, the hibachi came into much wider use.

As for the shape, there were square and wooden ones, and also ones made by hollowing out a log, made of earth, iron, and ceramics. The item on display is made of ceramics.


Chopstick tongs

Metal chopstick tongs used to pick up embers of firewood or charcoal in a hibachi or a hearth


Three- or four-legged ring made of metal or ceramic

Placed over a hibachi or hearth fire, and an iron kettle set on top