NIPPON Kichi - 日本吉

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2008/9/19


高野純一 Takano Junichi Junichi Takano

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Junichi Takano works as the Store Manager at the Shirakiya Nakamura Denbei Store, an old store established in 1830.  Mr. Takano supports Satoru Nakamura, the seventh successor who inherited the name and the store.
Along the side of the Kyoubashi River in Tokyo that is now an expressway there once was, in the Edo Period, a commercial river port called “bamboo river bank” where 50,000 to 60,000 sticks of bamboo were unloaded every day.  It was also a trading hub for all sorts of materials used for daily products.
The founder of the Shirakiya Store, Toubei, began making houki brooms from bamboo and houki-morokoshi (millet), and this “Edo-bouki” (as Toubei’s houki are called) has been created in the same traditional way and at the same place since.
Junichi Takano initially came in as a part time delivery boy. He was soon fascinated by the “practical beauty” of Edo-bouki and the work being done by master houki maker Seiichi Takagi. Since then, he fell in love with making houki himself and he has now become an indispensable talent for the store.
A houki, unlike some modern disposable tools, lasts a long time.
The craftsmen, anticipating all the possible ways the houki might be used, give it lightness, firmness and pliancy. The user understands that the houki is a tool to purify a house and as he or she sweeps the tatami mat from inside to outside, he or she “collaborates” with the houki. The relationship established between the user and the tool is a further development of the relationship already established between the craftsman and the craft.
Using fine materials, expert techniques and human ingenuity, as an artist, Mr. Takano takes elaborate efforts to continue to preserve the relationship between human and tool and pass it on to the next generation.
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2008/5/20


三度笠 Sandogasa Sando-gasa Hat

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Sando-gasa is a hat woven with bamboo or sedge.
Unlike most other hats that have a triangular pyramid shape, sando-gasa has a thin flat shape that is rounded towards the top and, seen head-on, it looks more like a thick horizontal line.
Sando-gasa is most commonly seen worn by yakuza, or gangsters, in Japanese period dramas. However, it was generally an express foot messenger who wore the hat regularly.
The messengers would travel both ways between Edo (Tokyo), Oosaka and Kyoto three times a month, and thus, were called “sando hikyaku” or three time messengers. The hats they loved were, accordingly, named sando-gasa.
The hat is wide enough to cover a person’s shoulders and can protect sufficiently from rain if the rain is not too hard. It is also very light and was often used by traveling merchants who wanted to avoid any excess weight other than their wares.
Inside, the hat is equipped with a circular head pedestal called atamadai which makes the hat fit quite well on the head.
Sando-gasa is a simple yet well designed hat filled to the brim with ancestral wisdom.
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2008/5/19


茶杓 Chashaku Chashaku Teaspoon

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A Chashaku is a spoon-like utensil used to scoop maccha tea powder into a tea bowl.
The chashaku originally came from a metal medicine spoon used in China, which had a potato leaf shaped scoop. The other end of the stem was rounded in order to crush medicine easily.
     In the Muromachi period, when the tea ceremony was established, people began to think that metal teaspoons might damage the tea set.  They then started to make Chasaku from bamboo.
     Upon the ascendance of Sen no Rikyu as the most influential tea master in the Sengoku period, Keishuso first designed a chashaku with a joint for Rikyu.  Hochiku, who studied under Keishuso and who became a chashaku artisan for Rikyu, completed the establishment of chakasu design as an art form.  
     The bamboo most commonly used for chashaku is from the Nigatake bamboo family, especially Sarashitake bamboo.
     Chashaku is 17~21cm in length. The end used to scoop tea powder is oval-shaped, 1cm width and 2cm length, and it is bent to make the scoop.    
     Chashaku is considered to be essential to the traditional tea ceremony and it is as beautiful as it is functional.
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2008/3/25


注連飾り(福岡、宮崎) Shimekazari(Fukuoka,Miyazaki) Shimekazari (Fukuoka, Miyazaki)

Jp En

Shimekazari is said to come from shimenawa rope which is used in shrines to mark the boundaries of a sacred area.
In welcoming the  New Year, it is hung over the front of the house to mark it as a sacred space. It is also used  as a lucky charm to prevent misfortune or evil spirits from entering.
In Kyuushuu, especially in the Fukuoka and Miyazaki regions, the crane is often used as a design on shimekazari. Radially spread bundles of straw are positioned to indicate the wings and tail of a crane and the part that represents the beak is often colored in red. In rare cases, shimekazari may also have a turtle design.
Since ancient times, both the crane and the turtle have been valued as animals that bring good fortune and a long life. Their design has been a fixture at celebratory occasions. Pine, bamboo and plum trees as well as treasure ships are also added to the decoration of the shimekazari, combining, strong wishes for both a happy New Year and a long, healthy life.
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