NIPPON Kichi - 日本吉

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2007/11/29


延岡五月幟 Nobeoka-gogatsu-nobori Nobeoka Gogatsu Nobori

Jp En

Gogatsu Nobori are banners that are put up on “Boy’s Day” - May 5th along with Koinobori, Kabuto helmets and Gogatsu Dolls.  This is done to celebrate the boy and to pray for his success and prosperity in the future.  The custom is still preserved in many local areas, each of which displays its own unique banner.
Nobeoka Gogatsu Nobori are one of this type of banner and they have been produced since the Kan’ei period, nearly 400 years ago.  They are made in the Kyushu region, with a dye technique called Tsutsubiki Tezome which is rarely used in the region.
At first, rough sketches are drawn on high quality cotton fabric and the sketches are then hemmed with rice paste. The painting  is done in an elaborate way, using traditional techniques and 20 different colors.
The motif of the drawings varies from The Genpei War, heroic warriors, Kintaro (from a popular children’s tale) or a venerable sage. On completion, the banners, with their  unique color and tone, are solemn and imposing.  They have been designated as a traditional craft by the Miyazaki Prefecture.
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かるい Karui Karui Bamboo Basket

Jp En

Karui, made from woven bamboo, is a basket used to carry things on one’s back.  They have been used in the Miyazaki Prefecture to carry grains, mushrooms, manure and other things needed for farm work.
The bamboo used to make karui baskets is “madake bamboo”, which grows wild all over Japan. The bamboo used for the body of the basket is woven with six strands and the “masubushi” weave is applied to finish the edge.  Karui is a useful item made from all natural materials.
These baskets have an upside-down triangular pyramid shape which doesn’t allow the basket to sit on a flat surface easily. Although the baskets are unstable on level ground, they sit well on steep, mountainous hills.  The wisdom of this design was gained from living in deep mountainous regions.
Today, karui are used, not only as baskets for transporting things, but also as interior decorations such as vases, letter holders or newspaper racks.  They remain much loved by many people.
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久峰うずら車 Hisamine-uzura-guruma Hisamine Quail Toy Car

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Hisamine Uzura Guruma or Hisamine Quail Toy Car is a traditional folk toy whose history has been passed down for years in Miyazaki City, Miyazaki Prefecture.
Since Edo era, quail has been a familiar bird in Miyazaki region and local people adore them. It was a local practice to keep the birds to enjoy their calling.
Quail in Japan breed in Hokkaido and northeastern Japan from Spring to Summer, then migrate to warmer areas of Shikoku and Kyushu from Fall to Winter.
Uzura Gurum is a children’s toy based on the quail. Japanese Angelica tree is used for the body and bamboo is used to make the axle of the wheels. On its side is a word, “の”, to pray for children’s safety and happiness.
In old days, the quail toy car was sold at religious festivals in Hisamine Kannon and Kishibo Shrine. They are still loved by the locals and can be seen being displayed by the front entrance of each household.
There are two kinds of quail toy cars in Miyazaki City; One in Hokkedake Yakushi-ji Temple and the other one in Hisamine Kannon. Hisamine quail toy car has a more feminine look.
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日州透かし象嵌 Nissyu-sukashi-zougan Nisshu-Sukashi Zogan

Jp En

Zogan (or inlay) is a metalwork technique which involves engraving the surface of a metal sheet and then inserting different materials into it.
Nisshu-Sukashi Zogan was highly influenced by the Higo Zogan method, which was started in 1632 by Matashichi Hayashi.  He was an artisan who worked under Tadatoshi Hosokawa, the head of the Kumamoto Clan. He mostly used the zogan to decorate rifles and sword guards.
In zogan making, a metal sheet is prepared by casting or hammering it.  A design which can be as small as 0.3mm, is then engraved into it.  Gold is inlayed and the work is then further engraved.  The intricacy of this process is so fine that it is almost the ultimate in what a person can produce by hand.  The finished zogans are treasured because of their elegant patterns and rare beauty.
Nisshu-sukashi Zogans are still created today in the Nobeoka region. Because of the intricacy of the process, however, only a handful of them can be made each year.  This adds to the value of these rare and beautiful craftworks.
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のぼりざる Nobori-zaru Climbing Monkey

Jp En

Climbing Monkey is a folk toy that has been handed down for years in the Nobeoka, Miyazaki Prefecture. The toy is put up on a bamboo pole along with Koinobori or carp shaped streamers on “Boy’s Day” – May 5th to pray for the children’s good health and prosperity in the future.  When the wind blows, the monkey starts climbing up the pole.
The making of the Climbing Monkey toy is said to have started around 200 years ago as a homemade craft by the samurai wives of the Nobeoka Naitou Clan. There are some popular myths as to why a climbing monkey first appeared.  One story says that it was created to admonish Sarutahiko, a Monkey God during the mythical age, who acted violently and ran amuck. Another story is that, before he was victorious in battle, the head of the Arima Clan, a previous occupant of the region prior to the Nobeoka Clan, had a monkey drawn on the war banner that he carried on his back.
The toy is made by first creating a monkey shaped wooden mold. The mold is wrapped with many layers of Japanese paper and then, the back of it is cut to remove the mold. The remaining paper is then stitched up before it is colored. The monkey wears the golden-striped eboshi headgear worn by court nobles and it carries a kozutsumi drum and a gohei (a wand with paper streamers) on its back. His appearance resembles a dancer who performs the celebratory dance before a Kabuki performance. The monkey is then suspended from a banner on which iris flowers are drawn. Although it is not a modern creation, Climbing Money continues to delight children into the 21st Century.
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道才かるた Dousai-karuta Dousai Karuta

Jp En

Dousai Karuta is a kind of karuta, a card game, which became popular in Kyoto-Osaka area during Edo era.
In Edo era when Hanafuda, a card game played for money was outlawed, people began using karuta cards instead of Hanafuda cards so they could continue gambling. The karuta card was based on Ogura Hyakunin Isshu (One Hundred Poets, One Poem Each), the famous Japanese anthology of waka, and this form of gambling with karuta cards known as “Mubeyama” became widespread. Dousai karuta was based on the Mubeyama, but its gambling aspect was more emphasized.
In  Karuta game, there are two kinds of cards; yomifuda or reading cards, and torifuda or grabbing cards. When the words in the yomifuda are read, players have to find the corresponding torifuda before anyone else does. In Dosai karuta, a proverb is written on each yomifuda card and a torifuda card has its matching picture.  
Most of the proverbs ridiculed someone who never learned by experience. One of the cards read “Do learn a lesson this time, Dousaibou” which the karuta game was named after.
Dosai karuta appeared to be initially created for children’s educational purposes, however, it became prevalent as a gambling game for adults.  
Dousai karuta is a much valued karuta game that tells us today about the life and culture of common people during Edo era.
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うんすんかるた Unsun-karuta Unsun Card Game

Jp En

Unsun Karuta is a card game, based on the western deck of playing cards, that was first brought to Japan by a Portuguese sailor.
During the Tenshou Era (1573 ~1591), the very first copy of western-style playing cards was made in Japan. These cards, made in Mitsuike, Oomuta City, Fukuoka, came to be known as Tenshou Karuta.  In the Edo period, they were developed further and Unsui Karuta was born.
While Tenshou Karuta had 48 cards, Unsun Karuta has 75 cards and more complicated rules. The name, Unsun, is said to have derived from the Portuguese words for the number one – “un” and the best – “sun”.
As Unsun Karuta gained popularity, the gambling potential of the game became so popular that, in the middle of the Edo period, it was banned. Unsun Karuta was believed to have entirely disappeared until it was discovered that the people of the Hitoyoshi region in Kumamoto had been enjoying the game all along.
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石川 檜細工 Ishikawa Hinokizaiku Ishikawa Cypress Weaving

Jp En

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.
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