筆記用具【Writing Tools】

Which came first, the pen or the pencil? Actually, the pen came first, but it didn’t look like anything we use today. It was a piece of wood, or reed. In later years, it became a feather quill, which will hold some ink in re-serve and not require constant dipping, as the brush does. I gave a friend of mine a quill set, as they were called in those past days. It included a knife to sharpen the point of the feather (quill). It is beautiful.


The lead pencil is the most recent invention because people didn’t want to carry pens or brushes around with them. The ink was dirty and the lead pencil eliminated the need for the ink and the time it took to write with a quill. Writing in Japan didn’t really become a nationwide trait until around the 8th century when Buddhism was accepted as a national religion. That is why history in Japan is not well-documented. In China, the brush was an early arrival (date unknown). It came to Japan and was used steadily after its introduction.


One system of use was the yatate, an ink and brush carrying tool. This was a common accessory of everyone who could write, and was a very clever invention. It is not used today, but is collected by many people. Many of them are very precious, made of valuable metals, and designed by artistic metal workers. I have three or four, but they are rather common types. I wish they were better. The yatate was carried in the sash (obi) by everyone and gained its name by being carried in the case for carrying arrows. Many things were carried in the arrow case because all warriors carried it and it was a convenient case for such a service.


The ancient man found in the mountains of Austria four or five years ago, had some things in his arrow case, and his arrows were feathered. The age and origins of cultures can be determined this way. I really enjoy this type of study. The origin of the yatate is not actually known, but it became popular early in the Edo Era and its design was very practical since it could carry the brush and the ink, in a hard form, needing only a little water to be used. In fact, it was most convenient. The ancient people were very clever indeed, but writing didn’t really become used countrywide, until around the 8th century.


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