Kumiko latticework is a traditional architectural fixture used in sliding shoji screens, standalone room dividers called shoin-shoji, and transom windows called ranma. The use of good kumiko is a sign of taste, refinement, and luxury. Thousands of precisely cut, tiny pieces of wood are assembled to create intricate screens without nails. Kumiko originated about 350 years ago, in the Kanuma region of Tochigi Prefecture.
Nikko Tosho-gu is a Shinto shrine located in Nikko, Tochigi Prefecture. It is part of the "Shrines and Temples of Nikko", a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Tosho-gu is dedicated to Tokugawa Ieyasu, the founder of the Tokugawa shogunate. Initially built in 1617, during the Edo-era, while Ieyasu's son Hidetada was shogun, it was enlarged during the time of the third shogun, Iemitsu. Ieyasu is enshrined here, and his remains are entombed here. During the Edo-era, the Tokugawa shogunate carried out stately processions from Edo to the Nikko Tosho-gu along the Nikko Kaido. The shrine's annual spring and autumn festivals reenact these occasions, and are known as "processions of a thousand warriors. Five structures at Nikko Tosho-gu are categorized as National Treasures of Japan, and three more as Important Cultural Properties. Additionally, two swords in the possession of the shrine are National Treasures, and numerous other objects are Important Cultural Properties. Famous buildings at the Tosho-gu include the richly decorated Yomeimon, a gate that is also known as "higurashi-no-mon." The latter name means that one could look at it until sundown, and not tire of seeing it. Carvings in deep relief, painted in rich colors, decorate the surface of the structure. The next gate is the karamon decorated with white ornaments. Nearby, a carving of the sleepy cat, "Nemuri-neko", is attributed to Hidari Jingoro. The stable of the shrine's sacred horses bears a carving of the three wise monkeys, who hear, speak and see no evil, a traditional symbol in Japanese culture. Hundreds of stone steps lead through the cryptomeria forest up to the grave of Ieyasu. A torii at the top bears calligraphy attributed to Emperor Go-Mizunoo. A bronze urn contains the remains of Tokugawa Ieyasu.
To build Nikko Tosho-gu, there were many carpenters from all over Japan. Kumiko was developed in order to decorate Tosho-gu, then spread all over Japan.