Fishing fleet flags - "Tairyo-bata"

Choshi city,where our store is located,is well-known as one of Japan's busiest fishing ports. Fishing boats of all sizes chugging back to the harbour after a hard night or morning's work are a common sight. However,over the New Year break even the most diligent of fishermen deserve a rest. The ships are moored in the harbour and in keeping with the general air of festivity, their masts are adorned with colorful hand painted flags known as "Tairyo-bata". A walk along the quay on New Year's day with the rousing sight of hundreds of flags flapping in the cold winter wind is one of the highlights of the holiday! Decorative as they may be,"Tairyo-bata" are not displayed with the sole purpose of delighting the eye. They have an altogether more significant purpose. "Tairyo" means "large catch" and each ship owner comissions their own uniquely original flag in the hope that they will be blessed with abundant catches for many years to come. The flags are created by traditional craftsmen, working in small ateliers sometimes with different people engaged in the various stages of production from drawing the design, setting the colors and block-painting the shapes. Each flag bears the name of the ship and a design chosen from a sample book of auspicious motifs. Not content to leave such an attractive craft available only to those fortunate to own a ship, the people of Choshi have recently started commissioning flags for special occasions such as births, marriages and store openings. At a price worthy of the care and expertise involved in their production, "Tairyo-bata" make great family keepsakes as well as communicating a sense of hope for the future, for both the recipient and the artisans wishing to preserve their traditional craft.

Artistic Nippon by Yoshikawa Toki Co. [Home]