NIPPON Kichi - 日本吉

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2008/3/25


注連飾り(東北地方) Shimekazari(Touhoku-Chihou ) Shimekazari (Tohoku region)

Jp En

Shimekazari is said to come from shimenawa rope which is used in shrines to mark the boundaries of a sacred area.
In welcoming the New Year, it is hung over the front of the house to mark it as a sacred area. It is also used as a lucky charm to prevent misfortune or evil spirits from entering the house, or to bring long life and bumper crops.
Many areas in the Tohoku region still preserve customs that use, along with shide and daidai, some food to decorate for shimekazari.  This may include such things as mochi (sticky rice), Konbu (kelp), pine needles and fish.
Konbu stands for joy as it sounds similar to the word, yorokobu, (to be happy). Fish is used to pray for good health for the family and, in some cases, to indicate the elevated  social rank of the house’s occupants.  It is also believed to summon a big catch of fish.
The food used in shimekazari indicates appreciation for a rich harvest in the past year as well as hopes for the same in the coming year.
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注連飾り(福岡、宮崎) Shimekazari(Fukuoka,Miyazaki) Shimekazari (Fukuoka, Miyazaki)

Jp En

Shimekazari is said to come from shimenawa rope which is used in shrines to mark the boundaries of a sacred area.
In welcoming the  New Year, it is hung over the front of the house to mark it as a sacred space. It is also used  as a lucky charm to prevent misfortune or evil spirits from entering.
In Kyuushuu, especially in the Fukuoka and Miyazaki regions, the crane is often used as a design on shimekazari. Radially spread bundles of straw are positioned to indicate the wings and tail of a crane and the part that represents the beak is often colored in red. In rare cases, shimekazari may also have a turtle design.
Since ancient times, both the crane and the turtle have been valued as animals that bring good fortune and a long life. Their design has been a fixture at celebratory occasions. Pine, bamboo and plum trees as well as treasure ships are also added to the decoration of the shimekazari, combining, strong wishes for both a happy New Year and a long, healthy life.
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注連飾り(島根、山口) Shimekazari(Shimane,Yamaguchi) Shimekazari (Shimane, Yamaguchi)

Jp En

Shimekazari, a New Year’s decoration, in some parts of the Chugoku region often uses red chilies along with shide, a zigzag-shaped paper streamer, and a bitter orange called daidai.
Chili has been  used as a charm against evil sprits in many regions of the world. In Japan, it is hung over the front door of the house to prevent malicious spirits from entering.  
Plants with thorns or a strong smell are also believed to work against evil spirits. In Setsubun, a spring ritual to drive devils away, some regions have the custom of inserting branches of the holly tree and a sardine head in the front door of the house. Shide are also hung to absorb misfortune and danger from the outside.
The “Shime” of shimekazari means “to occupy” and the shimenawa rope is used to mark the boundary of a sacred area where a God resides and to prevent impurities such as epidemics  from entering it.  It is also used as a seal to prevent good fortune from leaving the same area
The concept of Shimekazari is said to derive from this creation of a sacred space using the shimenawa.
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2008/2/15


初代 林家木久扇・二代目 林家木久蔵 Shodai HayashiyaKikuou Nidaime HayashiyaKikuzou Hayashiya Kikuou I Hayashiya Kikuzou II , Ragkugo Storytellers

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Hayashiya Kikuou, a rakugo storyteller, was born in 1937, Tokyo. Kikuzou first studied under Katsura Mikisuke III, an established rakugo storyteller. However, when Mikisuke passed away in 1961, Kikuzou went on to become a pupil of Hayashiya Shouzou X III and named himself Hayashiya Kikuzou. In 1972, he was promoted to become “shin’uchi” and made his official debut as an independent storytelling performer. In 1965, he became a regular star on “Shouten”, a popular television program. He is also the chairman of the National Ramen Noodle Party and a member of trustees of the Rakugo Association. In 2007, he handed his name to his eldest son and gave himself a different name, Kikuou.
Hayashiya Kikuzou was born in 1975, Tokyo. He graduated from the Department of Performing Arts at Tamagawa University. He studied under his father, Hayashiya Kikuzou. In 1996, he became “zenza”, meaning he was allowed to perform on the stage for the first time, and named himself Hayashiya Kikuo. In 2007, he was promoted to “shin’uchi” and became Hayashiya Kikuzou II.
Together Hayashiya Kikuou and Kikuzou launched a performing tour to celebrate their double name-taking ceremony starting at Suzuki Performing Center at Ueno, Tokyo, in 2007. It was an unprecedented occurrence for a pupil to take on his master’s name while the master was still alive.
“Even for rakugo which is a rather gentle performing art, it is essential to be assertive and think outside of the box, and not just maintain the tradition”, says both Hayashi. It is evident that they thrive on developing rakugo, finding new ways of working while keeping its tradition alive.
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2008/1/8


菅田天神社 Kandaten-jinja Kandaten Shrine

Jp En

Kandaten Shrine located in Koshu City in Yamanashi Prefecture is a shrine pertaining to the Takeda clan. Enshrined are Susanoo no Mikoto and other seven deities. It is said that the shrine was founded in 842 by the provincial governor, Fujiwara Iseo, by the Imperial order. When Sugawara no Michizane was enshrined together in 1004, the kanji “suga (菅)” was borrowed and the shrine came to be called Kandaten (菅田天). In the precinct is the statue of Zagyu (lying cow), which is believed to be the messenger of Sugawara no Michizane.

During the Warring States period (1493-1573), the shrine was protected by the Takeda clan as the god to guard the ominous direction of the provincial capital. The shrine is known for the possession of Kozakura Kawaodoshi Yoroi, which was one of the 8 armors handed down to the descendants of the Genji (the Minamoto clan). This armor was so strong that the one who wore it didn’t have to use a shield, so it was called “Tate-nashi-no-yoroi (the armor without a shield).” It was handed down to the heads of the Takeda clan, one of the rightful descendant family of the Seiwa Genji, as the family treasure together with Japan’s oldest Rising Sun flag.
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2007/12/25


増永眼鏡 Kazuo Kawasaki Ph.Dのアイウェア Masunaga-megane Kazuo Kawasaki Ph.D-no-Aiuea Masunaga Eyeglass by Kazuo Kawasaki Ph.D

Jp En

Masunaga Optical Mfg Co., Ltd is the oldest eyeglass maker in Japan and located in Fukui City, Fukui Prefecture, one of the three biggest eyeglass frame producing districts in the world.
Masunaga Eyeglass was designed by Kazuo Kawasaki who was born and raised locally. The eyewear was awarded Silmo d’Or at the Silmo Eyeglass trade show held at Paris in 2000.
Without using screws and by applying lightweight and flexible beta titanium in its frame, Masunaga eyeglass has achieved a high level of comfort for the wearer. By attaching the lenses to the frames at only one point, it is designed so that the vision is not distorted when the arms are flexed at the temple points. The lenses and the pupils are always equidistant.
Masunaga eyeglass, born from a concept of “smart and high technology”, achieved functionality and nobleness realized by the combination of  the Kazuo Kawasaki’s industrial design and Matsunaga’s superb techniques.
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CARNA Kaana Carna Folding WheelChair

Jp En

Carna was named after the Roman goddess who had power over entrances and exits and was considered a guardian angel of daily life.
Carna folding wheelchair, which was completed after eights years of prototyping, has a jaunty and stylish design giving it a feeling more like the newest pair of sneakers. With light weight titanium being utilized for the frame, the Carna can be folded down into a compact size. It is designed to be finely adjustable to fit different needs and body sizes. Above all, a user will be comfortable using the chair for extended periods of time. It can be said that this wheelchair becomes the legs of the user.
Carna folding wheelchair is the permanent collection of Museum of Modern Art (MoMA).
The Carna will become like a trusted guardian and it plays an important role to support the user’s everyday life, just as the word means.    
■Carna
・H86 x W61 x D90 cm
・9.5kg (seat 3kg)
■Design Director
Kazuo Kawasaki
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2007/12/14


ベンガラ Bengara Bengara

Jp En

Bengara is inorganic red pigment whose main ingredient is iron oxide, Fe2O3, and it is the oldest coloring agent known to mankind.
Bengara is written弁柄, in some cases紅殻, in Kanji and is also known as Indian Red and Venetian Red.
Bengara was thought to be introduced from China, via the Korean peninsula, into Okinawa. The name Bengara was believed to have been derived from Bengal, the Indian province that most of the iron oxide came from.
Bengara’s ingredient, iron oxide Fe2O3, was produced naturally more than any other iron oxide based coloring agents. However because its mineral composition is very similar to that of red rust from iron, nowadays artificially composed dyes have become more common than naturally produced ones.  Nariwa-cho, Takahashi, Okayama Prefecture, is the only remaining place in Japan that still produces Bengara naturally.
In ancient time, Bengara was rare and much treasured as a noble color. Shuri Castle in Okinawa is known to have Bengara red color. Because Bengara was superior for coloring and sealing as well as resistant to heat and water, it was applied to wooden buildings to prevent aging damage.
The color of Bengara might lack certain brightness more common in other red based pigments, but its flamboyance today still keeps holding people’s affection.
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