Yoshinobu and Yusuke Yabe, a father & son, are a producer of inden, a traditional craft of deerskin with patterns stenciled on the surface with colored “urushi.” It is said that the technique was transferred to Japan from India about 400 years ago. With its soft touch, lightness, and durability, samurais utilized inden for their armors. Nowadays, inden is widely spread to the mass, applied to various goods, such as bags, wallets, and card cases.
Inden Yabe started its production in 1924, passing the technique and keeping the tradition for three generations. There used to be several workshops in Tokyo, but it is now the only remaining producer in the region. Yoshinobu Yabe is the third generation to lead the workshop and Yusuke, son of Yoshinobu, is currently working to succeed the tradition for the next generation.
Putting urushi on the deerskin evenly on the surface is delicate work. It requires long experience and skill to adjust the best mixture of urushi and pigment, which the condition changes according to the temperature and humidity. The city of Katsushika awarded Yoshinobu Yabe as a supreme traditional craftsman in 1999, and the governor of Tokyo recognized him as Tokyo Meister in 2015 for his outstanding skill and craftsmanship.
Colorful design is beautiful, but the real charm is in chic colors. Monotone design with black urushi has a striking appeal.