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.
Kongoin Temple located in Ueno-machi, Hachioji City, Tokyo is a Bekkaku Honzan (a special headquarters) of the Shingon sect. The main object of worship is Fudo Myoo. The temple is the 63rd fudasho-temple of the Kanto 88 Holy Sites, the 16th of the Buso 48 Kannon Sites, the 73rd of the Tama Shin-Shikoku 88 Holy Sites, and one of Hachioji Pilgrimage to Shichifukujin (the Seven Lucky Deities).
The temple was founded in 1576, when the priest Shinsei built a Fudo hall. In 1631, it was restored at this place as a sub-branch temple of Koyasan Kongobuji Temple and Jigenin Temple. The temple buildings were burned down by an air raid in 1945 and rebuilt in the post-war period.
Kongoin Temple is known for a large number of treasures, including the two statues of Jurojin and Fukurokuju of the Seven Lucky Deities, two Rokkyoku Byobu (six-panel screens) of Shihon Chakushoku Koyasan Zue (the illustrated description of Koyasan in color on paper) and Shihon Chakushoku Saiobo-zu (a painting of the Queen Mother of the West in color on paper), both of which are designated Tokyo Important Tangible Cultural Properties.
Bense Swamp located in Kizukuri Tateoka, Tsugaru City, Aomori Pref. is one of the largest swamps in Tsugaru Qausi-National Park. In the area around this swamp are numerous large and small lakes and pond. Surrounded by Hirataki Pond, Otaki Pond and Bense Pond, this swamp at an altitude of 20 m above sea level has an area of 20 ha, where the community of Nikko-kisuge (Hemerocallis middendorffii var. esculenta) forms a bright orange carpet in June, and the purple community of sword-leaved iris shudders in the breeze in July. The swamp was formed because dead plant layers such as peat moss have heaped up due to the severe climatic conditions. It is unusual that this kind of marshy plant community is formed near the beach. In Honshu and the northeastern part of Hokkaido, it can be seen nowhere other than in the wetland area around Mt. Byobuyama including this swamp. Bense Swamp is a scenic spot where visitors can enjoy bright-colored cute flowers.
With its picturesque quality and its scientific technique, Yuzen dyeing is an art form unique to Japan.
Takahashitoku, an elite dyeing studio in Kyoto, has for 100 years produced Yuzen dyes for the prominent manufacturer, Chiso.
The Takahashitoku studio is trying to preserve and make relevant this traditional art form for modern uses. They dye dresses and jeans for Yoji Yomamoto, one of world’s top contemporary designers. They also collaborated with a celebrated young artist and created scrolls and screens of his compute graphics paintings. For public, they hold classes for to experience hand painted Yuzen for fun.
“Tradition and techniques need to be accepted by people in order to survive’, says Kinya Takahashi, director of the studio. “But then what makes them acceptable? This question is always on my mind.”
Mukabaki Shrine located at the southern foot of Mt. Mukabaki in the western part of Nobeoka City, Miyazaki Prefecture, is a historic shrine founded in 718 by transferring the deity from Kumano Taisha Shrine in present Wakayama Prefecture. The enshrined deities are Izanagi no Mikoto, Izanami no Mikoto and Yamato Takeru no Mikoto. Being called Mukabakidake Sansho Daigongen (the Great Three Gods of Mt. Mukabaki), the shrine was worshipped by the successive lords of the Hyuga domain.
The huge precinct is covered with densely grown trees, among which the main hall stands in the tranquil atmosphere. The trail up Mt. Mukabaki starts from the precinct.
Mt. Mukabaki (813 m) is a fine mountain with precipitous flat cliff, which looks like a folding screen. It was named so when Yamato Takeru visited this place to conquer the Kumaso tribe and said that the mountain looked like a “mukabaki,” which was a fur to wrap around the waist.
Ryuunkaku was constructed in 1909 as a guesthouse for the Imperial family members and high-ranked government officers, who visited Niikappu Imperial Ranch constructed in Shizunai Town in southeastern Hokkaido in 1872 in order to breed horses for the Imperial family. It was originally named Ryounkaku, but was renamed Ryuunkaku in the Taisho period (1912-1926).
This stately house in Shinden-zukuri style (the style of the aristocrat residences in the Heian period) gives off a distinctive atmosphere in the tranquil meadowland. Apart from the cultural value of the building itself, there are a lot of precious cultural properties are preserved. Among them are the Chinese-style poem written Japanese ink by Ito Hirofumi and the picture painted on a folding screen by Kano Tanyu.
The interior of the building is open to the public only during the cherry blossom festival period. From the second floor, a vast expanse of the ranch can be viewed. You may sense the passion for the Westernization n the Meiji period.
Ogata Korin (1658-July 20, 1716) was a Japanese painter and lacquerer. He was born in Kyoto, as a second son of a wealthy merchant, who ran a shop Kariganeya dealing in kimono fabrics. His father died when he was thirty. By this time, Kariganeya had already bankrupted, but Korin would not stop pursueing his pleasure. Faced with financial difficultied, he started painting in around 1701. Being patronized by noble men including the Nijo family as well as daimyo and actors, he created a lot of decorative paintings. When one of his patron, Nakamura Kuranosuke, who was a government official in Kyoto, was transferred to Edo (present-day Tokyo) in 1704, Korin also moved to Edo, where again his works were highly appreciated by wealthy merchants and daimyo. He went back to Kyoto in 1709 and left a lot of masterpieces including folding screens, ko-zutsumi (wrapping paper for incense wood), Japanese folding fans, makie, and paintings for the ceramics made by his ypunger brother , Ogata Kanzan. His work was characterized by careful composition, sense of rhythm, and gorgeous coloring. His brushwork was called Rinpa School, which became one of the major historical schools of Japanese decorative painting, and the decorative designs which resemble the work of Ogata Korin were called “Korin Monyo.”
Oniiwa Park is a scenic spot in Hida-Kisogawa Quasi-National Park. It is located along the mountain stream flowing into Lake Matsuno, which is near the headstream of the Kako River. There are a lot of strange-shaped granite rocks towering along the gorge. Each rock is named according to its shape such as Usu-iwa (Mill Rock), Taro-iwa, Hasami-iwa (Scissor Rock), Byobu-iwa (Folding Screen Rock) and Gyoja-iwa (Mountain Practitioner Rock). There are three routes to walk through the park, which include “Iwato-kuguri Course,” where visitors can enjoy going through an 80-meter-long and narrow tunnel.
The name “Oni-iwa (Ogre’s Rock)” is derived from the legend that once upon a time there lived an ogre named Seki no Taro. In the park is the cave, which is believed to have been his dwelling. At the Bean-scattering Ceremony on Setsubun (February 3) held in this park, the throwers chant “Demons in! Luck in!” in stead of chanting “Demons out! Luck in!”
The granite rocks that have been eroded for tens of millions of years give fine contrast to the deep forest, where visitors can enjoy various seasonal changes including cherry blossoms in spring, fresh green in summer and crimson foliage in fall.