Aobana is a colorant that originated in Japan and that has been in use for years.
Aobana, literally meaning blue flower, is obtained from the petals of perennial plants such as tsuyukusa (blue dayflower) and hotarugusa (firefly grass). The blue liquid is then applied to a paper which acts as a carrier for the colorant. Aobana is therefore called aobana-gami (aobana paper) or ai-gami (indigo paper) on some occasions. Aobana colorant has been used to draw rough sketches, most often for sketching Yuuzen patterns.
If you tear a small amount of aobana, place it on a plate and pour some water over it, the blue liquid will appear. This aobana colorant appears only on contact with moisture which makes it an ideal colorant for sketching.
The fleeting nature of aobana has been well recognized since ancient times, which is evidenced by an old waka poem: “people’s minds are like the elusive blue dayflower that changes its color easily”.
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.
Ayutsubo Falls are located in Nagaizumi Town in Shizuoka Prefecture. The falls gush out of two cracks in the 10 meter high cliff formed by Mishima Stream of lava and flow down into the midstream of the Kise River. They discharge 3 to 7 tons of water per second.
They were named Ayutsubo (Sweet fish Basin) Falls because sweet fish stopped swimming and gathered together in the waterfall basins. As the water in the basins looks indigo blue, they are also called Aitsubo (Indigo Blue Basin) Falls. Or, the view of Mt. Fuji in back of the falls is so exquisite that the falls are called Fujimi-no-taki (Mt. Fuji Viewing Falls).
Ayutsubo Falls were prefecturally designated as a Natural Monument in 1996. When it rains heavily, water gushes out of every crack in the cliff with roaring sounds to form a dynamic cataract. The view of the falls from Ayutsubo no Kakehashi, the hanging bridge in the down stream, is further more beautiful.
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.
Kannonji City in Kagawa Prefecture uniquely has two Holy Sites of Shikoku in one premise; Jin’nein Temple (the 68th) and Kannonji Temple (the 69th). These temples were originally a part of Kotohiki (Harp Play) Hachimangu Shrine founded in 703 by Priest Nissho, who had received a divine message from Hachiman Daimyojin with the tune of Japanese harp heard from a boat on the sea. Jin’nein was also built at this time as an attached temple to the shrine.
In the Daido era (806-809), Kobo Daishi enshrined Amida Buddha、which was Honjibutsu (Buddhist counterpart of the deity of the shrine) and designated the shrine as the 68th of the 88 Holy Sites of Shikoku. Then he carved Sho Kanzeon Bosatsu (Sacred Form of Kannon) and built the formal seven buildings of a temple in the nearby mountain, and named it Kannonji Temple, which was designated as the 69th.
Later in the Meiji period (1868-1912), when temples and shrines were separated according to the Shinbutsu Bunri policy of the national government, Honjibutsu Amida Buddha of Kotohiki Hachimangu Shrine was removed to Nishi-Kondo Hall of Kannonji Temple, which became the main hall of Jin’nein Temple; hereby two temples has been located in the same premise since then. Jin’nein temple is up the stone steps from Kannonji Temple.
Zenpukuin Temple is an old and distinguished temple located in Kainan City, Wakayama prefecture. This temple was originally one of the five sub-temples of Kofukuji Temple, which was built in 1214 by the Zen priest Eisai. Kofukuji Temple, which was once a flourishing temple with the formal seven main buildings, fell into ruin with its sponsor having gone bankrupt. After that it was converted to Shingon Sect and repaired some of the buildings. In the Edo period, when the area became a part of the Kishu domain, it converted again to Tendai Sect. The three of the five sub-temples had remained until the Meiji period, but only Zenpukuin Temple remains to the present time. Shakamuni Hall in Yosemune-zukuri style (a square building) covered with a double hipped roofs and standing on the Ransekizumi podium (made of natural stones piled up in a random fashion) is designated as a National Treasure. Its Yosemune-zukuri style with a tile roof and the construction method using Heiko-darugi (rafters laid parallel to each other from the ridge) are considered as the typical examples of Zen architectural elements in the late Kamakura period, which can also be seen in Shariden at Engakuji Temple in Kamakura and Buddha Hall at Kozanji Temple in Yamaguchi.
Eirinji Temple located in Shimo-Yugi, Hachioji City, Tokyo is a temple of the Soto sect of Zen Buddhism. The main object of worship is Dakini Sonten. The temple is selected as one of Hachioji Hachiji-Hakkei (88 Scenic Places in Hachioji). The temple is pertaining to Oishi Sadahisa, a powerful warrior in the Warring States period (1493-1573), for there used to be a residence of Sadahisa at the place where the temple is located today. When Sadahisa moved to Takiyama Castle as the castellan in 1532, he founded the temple named Eirinji here. However at this time, the Kanji meaning “scale” was used for “rin (鱗)” as “永鱗寺.” Later when Tokugawa Ieyasu moved to the Kanto region, he praised the grove in the precinct of this temple. Then the Kanji meaning “grove (林)” came to be used for its name as “永林寺.”
Eirinji Temple is one of the most magnificent temples in Musashino area (the area including Tokyo and Saitama Prefecture). Passing through the three gates of So-mon, Ro-mon and Suzaku-mon, you will reach the main hall. On a hill behind the main hall is the ruin of Oishi Sadahisa‘s old residence.
Chokoji Temple in Toyota City, Aichi Prefecture, is a Bekkaku (a kind of title, which literally means “special”) temple of the Tofukuji school of the Rinzai sect of Buddhism. The principal object of worship is Juichimen Kanzeon Bosatsu (Kannon with 11 faces). Its mountain name is Shuunzan.
The temple was founded in 1335 by Nakajo Hidenaga, the castellan of Koromo Castle, as his family temple. The temple thrived in the early Muromachi period (1336-1573) possessing the precinct of 545 meters from north to south and 436 meters from east to west, where as many as 18 branch temples were built. After the Onin War (1457), when the Nakajo clan declined, the temple also lost its power. It was attacked by Oda Nobunaga and destroyed by fire in 1567. However, the temple was immediately restored by a retainer of Nobunaga, Yogo Masakatsu.
Chokoji Temple possesses several cultural properties, one of which is the portrait of Nobunaga. It was painted by Kano Motohide by the order of Yogo Masakatsu after his master’s death. The picture is now designated as a cultural property by the national government.