Ralph Kiggell is a British artist who was born in Zambia in 1960. He is a woodblock printer, whose work is strongly influenced by East Asia.
Since he was a child, he had always been interested in Japanese woodblock prints. Works by masters such as HOkusai and Utamaro could be seen periodically in special exhibitions at the British Museum in London.
In 1990, Ralph Kiggell came to Japan to study woodblock printing. He first studied at the Yoshida Hanga Academy in Tokyo under Tsukasa Yoshida, the son of Toshi Yoshida, and the grandson of Hiroshi Yoshida. Later, he learned contemporary woodblock printing techniques at Kyoto Seika University and at Tokyo’s Tama Art University.
Kiggell enjoys the sensitivity of Japanese woodblock printing, because the whole process is carried out by hand using hand-made and natural materials. There is an organic connection from hand to wood to paper. Kiggell thinks that in the digital age that we live in, woodblock printing has particular resonance as an important medium for contemporary artistic expression.
Old Daijoin Garden consists of the traces of a garden at Daijoin Temple in Nara Prefecture.
In the first year of the Kanji period (1087), Daijoin was built as a Monzeki temple of Kofukuji, one of the seven major Nanto temples. In the fourth year of the Jisho period (1180), it was burnt down during the attack on Nara by Taira-no-Shigehira. It was subsequently renovated at its present place. In the third year of the Hotoku period (1451), it was burnt down again, but Jinson, a monk of Daijoin, rebuilt it and it was Zeami who made a garden at that time.
Daijoin Garden remained as the best garden in Nanto until the end of the Edo period. In the Meiji period, because of the government's oppression of Buddhism, it disappeared. In 1909, the site was reused as part of the Nara Hotel.
Now, the garden is being renovated and you can see some parts of it at the Daijoin Garden Museum, to the south of the garden.
In Nagai, Yamagata Prefecture, there is a museum dedicated to archaeological sites excavated in the vicinity. The museum itself is in Jomon Village at the foot of Mt Nishi, an area peppered with many ancient sites from the Jomon period.
Extensive research in Showa 52 led to the recognition of the site as an ancient area of habitation dating to the paleolithic Yayoi period. Inside the museum are clay figures and artifacts, while outside on Kodai-no-Oka (Hill of Antiquity) in the center of the village are gigantic clay figures. Visitors can also experience 'camping' inside a restored pit dwelling.
The resource center was built with the idea of preserving the surrounding mountains, rivers and hills, and is populated with many rare animals and plants. Camping in the autumn, when the leaves turn, is also popular.
The Yumeji Local Art Museum Branch, located in Setonai, Okayama Prefecture, commemorates the birthplace of Yumeji Takehisa, who lived here until the age of 16.
Yumeji Takehisa was a lyrical and roving artist/poet whose work is representative of the Taisho Romantic style. Yumeji was born in 1884 (Meiji 17) in the town of Oku. Surrounded by beautiful mountains and rivers, this environment must lie at the roots of Yumeji's art.
The Yumeji museum exhibits Yumeji's sketches and block prints. Near the window are drawing marks he made for his beloved sister who had married. There is a monument at the museum entrance with the words, 'Takehisa Yumeji was born here' by Ikuma Arishima, one of Yumeji's best supporters. Next door, there is a recreation of Yumeji's studio, designed by him and now called the Yumeji Youth Lodge. Yumeji fans should definitely pay a visit to the poet's birthplace.
Oku-Noto Salt Pan Village is a facility for experiencing salt-production and a museum with exhibits describing the relation of the Noto people to salt.
Because Japan is surrounded by sea, techniques for extracting salt from sea water developed. Most settlements near the sea had salt-extracting facilities.
Salt-extraction techniques can be divided into two main regional types: 'agehama' and 'irihama'. Along the coasts of Noto Peninsula, salt was produced using the agehama technique. For example, in the town of Suzu, where Oku-Noto Salt Pan Village is located, the 500-year-old agehama technique is still used.
In the agehama technique, you draw sea water into a pail and sprinkle it on the sand many times, then let it dry under the sun. The salt itself is tasty and rich in minerals. Not only that but if you use it in cooking, it will make the food tastier.
At Oku-Noto Salt Pan Village, you can experience this traditional salt-production method and make your own original salt. The experience is available from May to September.
This Iga-style Ninja Museum is located in Ueno, Iga City, Mie prefecture. Ninja is a kind of samurai warrior who engaged in espionage activities. Ninja House in the museum originally belonged to the local ruling family in Iga and was renovated and moved.
In Iga, people manufactured secret elixirs using medicinal herbs there, or they dispensed gunpowder. Thieves often broke in to steal the scrolls with the secrets of their production methods.
To deter intruders, many tricks were set up everywhere in the house so that it took longer for thieves to find the scrolls or escape. These tricks explain why the house is called Ninja House. The appearance of the house is like a typical thatched farmer's dwelling.
A visit to the house these days, includes demonstrations by Ninja actors who show the house's secret devices, like fake walls, trick doors and hiding places. Visitors to Iga Ninja House can experience the atmosphere of a former warlike period.