Ishikawa Prefecture was once ruled by the Kaga Clan, known as a “Hyakumangoku” clan or one million“Koku”clan. Koku was a measure of the domain’s production and the Kaga clan’s Hyakumangoku ranking indicated the extreme wealth of the region. Kanazawa Paulownia Woodwork, with its distinctly flamboyant design, has been produced in the region since the era of the Kaga clan.
Kanazawa Paulownia woodwork is unique-to-the-region. It combines the high quality Paulownia wood, which thrives in the region due to the heavy snowfall each year, and the Makie lacquer technique, a craft promoted by Maeda Oshitsune, the third lord of the Kaga clan.
While a more common Paulownia features a white chest of drawers, Kanezawa’s chests of drawers are different. Their surface is first burnt and polished to create a characteristic burnt look, then Makie lacquer is applied. The lightness of Paulownia wood and distinctive tone of its color result in woodwork that is truly original.
In the Meiji period, Shouku Oogaki, regarded as a great master of Kaga Makie, developed the technique of applying Makie lacquer to the Paulownia Hibachi, a charcoal brazier. These gained popularity all over Japan and greatly increased the desire for Kanazawa Paulownia woodwork nationwide.
In the Ishikawa prefecture, the Paulownia Hibachi became a necessary household article for new brides. Paulownia Hibachis were regarded as essential for heating in the winter and they were once widely used all over Japan.
Daishoji is located in today's Kaga city in Ishikawa Prefecture. This was once a thriving castle town within the highly productive million-koku branch domain of the Kaga Domain.
Daishoji is a place where history and tradition live. The streets still retain a mellow and relaxed atmosphere evocative of the Edo period. At the base of the Kinjo mountain castle are the old Zen and Nichiren Buddhist temples standing side by side. Visitors come all year round to see the historical sites here.
Among the temples, Jisshouin is famous throughout Japan for its beautiful wisteria. The gilt-painted shoji screens are also magnificent. Choryu-Tei pavilion and garden, located in the grounds of the Enuma Shrine and once part of the mansion of Daishoji's 3rd lord, seem to imitate the Kenrokuen garden. Here the elaborate and detailed drawing room and tea room are interesting. This garden is designated as an important national asset.
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.
Ishikawa cypress weaving is a traditional handicraft in Hakusan City, Ishikawa Prefecture. It was designated as a prefecture’s traditional craft product in 1988.
The beginning of cypress weaving was about 400 years ago, when a traveling priest visited a village in Hakusan and taught the villagers how to weave hats with cypress strips. By the middle of the Edo period, weaving hats had become the important source of income for the villagers.
Strips of cypress called hin-na, or hegi, are woven to make articles. The most famous product is the Hakusan cypress hat, which has been made since the early Showa period (1926-1989). As it is light in weight, strong and effectively blocks off the rain and sunlight, it is widely used by farmers. The time before busy farming season is the peak of the production of Hakusan hats. Today, 6 workmen undertake the annual orders of about 700 hats. Cypress weaving is also adapted in folk crafts such as oboke (baskets to store spun hemp thread), baskets, flower vases, etc. Each item is a charming handicraft with utility and beauty.
Chinkin is the technique of decorating lacquerware by carving patterns into the lacquered surface using a special chisel called “chinkin-to,” then gold leaf or powder is inlayed into the curved design. The technique is said to have been introduced from China in the Muromachi period. It is the traditional handicraft in Wajima City, Ishikawa Pref. Fumio Mae (1940-), the holder of National Important Intangible Cultural Property (Living National Treasure) in Chinkin, studied under a master craftsman and his father, Tokuji Mae after his graduation from the Japanese Painting Department of Kanazawa College of Art in 1963. He advanced his studies in Chinkin-to chisels and even contrived his own chisels. Using a variety of excellent Chinkin techniques, he has created original, sensitive and expressive works. He is also contributing to the technical training in lacquering at the Wajima Lacquer Technique Training Center.
Ganmon Cave, located about the center of Noto Kongo, the most scenic spot in Noto Peninsula, is a cave that wave erosion of the rough Sea of Japan hollowed out in the center of a huge rock. The cave is 15 m tall, 6 m wide and 60 m deep. A small ship can go through it. The towering rock is covered with old pine trees. There are several legends about this cave. The most famous one is that Minamoto no Yoshitsune hid himself in this cave when he headed for Oshu (presently Tohoku Region), escaping from his brother, Yoritomo. Near Ganmon Cave stand a lot of strange places of interest. To the south of Ganmon Cave lie Goban (Go board) Island, where Yoshitsune and his followers are said to have enjoyed playing Igo, and the Takanosu (hawk’s nest) Rock with a height of 27 m, where hawks made there nests, the Fukiagenotaki Waterfall with a height of 27 m, and Senjojiki Rock
Daisetz Suzuki was a great philosopher, who introduced the highly crystallized concept of Zen to the western world. He was born in Ishikawa Prefecture in 1870. While studying at Tokyo University, he took up Zen practice at Engakuji Temple in Kamakura, where he lived a monk’s life. He studied Zen under the Zen monk, Soen, and given the name Daisetsu, meaning “Great Simplicity.”
Suzuki intended to introduce Zen to the West, acting as a bridge between East and West. What he wanted was the unity of East and West, for which he accomplished a great feat of translating Zen texts into English. Suzuki wrote a translation of “the The Tao Te Ching,” a Chinese classic text, and then “the Daijo Kishinron (the Awakening of Mahayana Faith).” In 1907, Suzuki published his first original book in English, “the Outlines of Mahayana Buddhism.” His had a great influence on intellectual persons in the western world. During the ear of the counterculture in the 1960s and 1970s, the world of Zen, which was introduced by Suzuki, inspired adoration for Oriental world among the westerners.
Suzuki kept practicing Zen over a lifetime, and thought and talked of deep-rooted social problems including races, religions and racial disputes through the quest for the spirit of Zen.
Makie, a lacquer working technique, is a traditional craftwork passed down through generations for over 1,500 years.
While other lacquer techniques such as “Hyoumon” and “Raden” originated in China, the oldest evidence of Makie lacquer was discovered inside Shousouin Temple. It is believed the Makie technique is indigenous to Japan and is unique in the world.
The word “makie” come from “maki” meaning “sprinkle” and “e” meaning “painting”.
In the makie technique, patterns and pictures are drawn on to lacquer ware with lacquer, and while they are still wet, gold and silver metal powders are sprinkled on to designs adhering to the wet lacquer.
Any excess powder protruding from the drawings and remaining unattached to the surface are later brushed off, thus allowing beautiful patterns to finally emerge.
Makie is further divided by its techniques: Tokidashi Makie, Hira Makie, Taka Makie, Shishiai Makie, Rankaku Makie among others. The technique of “shading off” by a way of sprinkling the powder is also used. Makie is an art form with a wide variety of expressions.
The fact that metal powders are not pasted, but “sprinkled” might give some insight into the Japanese characteristic of being finely tuned to details.