Toto-Awase is a memory game in which the players have to match two cards to create a complete fish illustration and the kanji character that represents the name of the fish. Each card also has a brief description of the fish depicted. These fish are all familiar species in Japan and their illustrations have been beautifully done with colorful paper patterns. The game was created by Toto Koubou in Tango Uocchikan Aquarium, located in Miyazu City, Kyoto.
Since its début on the market in the Spring of 2003, Toto-Awase, with its beautiful illustrations, has gained popularity. The game has the added benefit for children of teaching them the various fish species and their respective kanji characters. The total sale of Toto-Awase games has now exceeded 100,000. The game received a Good Design Award in 2005 and a Good Toy Award in 2006. Currently there are eleven different sets of the memory game according to different regions. The illustrations are elaborate collages with colorful papers of traditional patterns and the box containing the cards is decorated in vermillion and ultramarine - the quintessential colors of Japan. An English version is also made under the name “Card Game Sushi Bar” and it is popular as a souvenir for people to bring abroad.
Chigusa is a greenish light blue color extracted from the small blue petals of spiderwort flowers that bloom in the summer.
Spiderwort is called “tsuyukusa” in Japanese. Tsuyukusa is also known as “tsukikusa” and chigusa is said to derive from the word, tsukikusa.
Spiderwort is a prairie wildflower that grows in fields and by the roadside in summer. The flowers open in the morning, closing again in the afternoon. It is a delicate flower that brings a beautiful touch to the Japanese summer. The color extracted from the flower is very delicate and is easily washed away with water. It is used to draw a rough sketch for Yuuzen style dyeing.
Kimonos which were provided by merchants in Kyoto for their apprentices were lightly dyed with indigo plants and had a pale blue color. After a while the color of the kimono would start to fade so it was dyed again. The color arising from repeated dying of the fabric became known as chigusa color, perhaps because when the indigo plant is used lightly as a dye, it is a light green in color that is similar to the blue of fabric dyed with spiderwort.
Gunjyou means literally “gathering of blues” and is based on the name of a paint from China. Gunjyou color, unlike blue or navy blue, contains purplish hints. It is a deep blue and also called konjyou, or Prussian blue.
The best natural gunjyou color was said to be the one that was made from a mineral called ruri, or lapis lazuli, and was very rare to find at that time. Azurite powder from indigo minerals was also used to produce the color.
Gunjyou color was regarded as a necessity to create the vibrant blue color in Japanese painting and was used often in pictures on luxurious room partitions during Momoyama Period. This deep color was also applied lavishly to such items as folding screens and fabrics.
EIZO LCD TV, which has become popular with its simple yet finely refined design and high quality, launched their new line of color LCD HDTV, under the brand name of FORIS.
FORIS HD can be used as both a television and computer monitor. It has a high resolution of more than 720 lines with an aspect ratio is 16:9. Accompanying its high definition, EIZO has developed new techniques which enable FORIS monitors to present a picture which is gentle on the viewer’s eyes.
By applying Pythagoras’ Theorem (3:4:5) to its sound technology, EIZO has succeeded in developing a highly effective and superb quality in both the bass and treble ranges.
It has vivid vermilion Bengal color on its side which is traditionally considered a noble color, making a definite mark of Japanese manufacture.
It is the further evolution of a new information terminal fusing the television and computer.
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.
Cape Sukai is one of the representative scenic spots of Rebun Island in the northernmost part of Hokkaido. You can get to the cape by sightseeing bus or by taking the 4 hour trekking route from Cape Sukoton via Cape Gorota.
The attraction of Cape Sukai is the beauty of the sheer cliffs and rugged coastline with many oddly-shaped stones and rocks as well as the plentiful alpine plants such as Ezo daylilies and Ezo gentians (Gentiana triflora var. japonica).
Looking down at the ocean below, you will be astounded by crystal clear water. The water is so clear that you will feel you can touch the bottom with your hand. It is one of the most beautiful parts of the sea of Rebun. The color of the sea changes to various colors such as light green and emerald green according to the depth of water and the course of sunlight. You will be so fascinated that you may not be able to turn your eyes away.
Yanagawa handballs are traditional Japanese handball made in Yanagawa City, Fukuoka Pref. It is designated as a Traditional Craft Product by the prefecture. In Yanagawa area, three is a custom to present “Sagemon” to a girl on her first girls’ Sekku day (March 3). Sagemon is a kind of mobile with a large handball set in the center of the ring and many small balls and handmade staffed-dolls, mostly lucky items such as a crane, attached alternately to the strings that are hung from the ring. Traditionally, Yanagawa handballs are used for this ornament. In making of Yanagawa balls, a wadded cotton cloth is covered with a sheet of cotton, which is shaped into a ball with basting yarn. Then the ball is whipped up with cotton thread that is dyed with Kusaki-zome technique or modern colored thread of synthetic fiber. It is said that Yanagawa handballs were first made by the waiting maids working at the residence of the domain lord of Yanagawa Province and then the technique spread among the townspeople in the castle town. The making of Yanagawa handballs has been handed down as a cultural property of the castle town.
Keiko Yoshida is the owner of Yoshida store in Daito-ku, Tokyo, that creates and sells Takarabune-kumade, or Treasure ship rakes, which are sold only at the Tori Fair of Ootori Shrine. Ms Yoshida was born in 1921 and is a master craftswoman recognized by Nihon Shokunin Meikoukai, the association for the Japanese Master Craftsmen.
Yoshida is currently the only store that creates Takarabune-kumade employing traditional methods, and Ms Yoshida continues to use the methods passed down since the Edo period. She initially started making the rakes to help her husband who was originally a carpenter. After his death, she became the head of the store and single-handedly manages the business.
Takarabune-kumade made by Yoshida store uses only natural materials of bamboo and paper. The whole manufacture process including cutting bamboo, cutting paper using a pattern, coloring, drawing faces, painting exterior, and insertion are done by hand. These techniques have been handed down to Ms Yoshida’s daughter, Kyoko.