Located on the slope of Mt Oshitate (771.8m), Hyakusai Temple is one of the oldest temples in Kotosanzan and used to be known as Kudara Temple.
During the Heian period, Hyakusai Temple changed its principal belief to the Tendai school of Buddhism and began to flourish as a large temple. Back then, it used to have over 300 towers. However, because of wars most of them were burned down and now only the principal images and some main monuments are left.
When walking along the path from the main gate, plains can be seen beside the road. The path has an atmosphere similar to the approach to Ando castle. It is counted as one of Kotosanzan's temples, and many people are attracted to the subtle ambience of the temple.
Fukumi Shimura was born in Omihachirin, Shiga Prefecture, in 1924. In 1990, she was designated as a Living National Treasure for her work in Tsumugi-fabric.
When she was 17, she started learning weaving from her mother. When she was 30, she decided to work independently as a Tsumugi-fabric craftsman and divorced her husband. She learned plant-dyeing on her own and made lively works one after another.
Her work's charm is in its harmony of rich colors, carefully extracted from nature's plants. She integrated traditional patterns, like stripes, with plant-dyed silk and developed Tsumugi-woven kimonos into art. Her efforts and accomplishment have been highly valued.
Shimura has made many works on the theme of historical stories; she chose 'The Tale of Genji' in particular as her lifetime work. Her gracefully woven tsumugi with plant-dyed silk presents heartfelt images from these stories .
Kiju Fukuda was born in 1932 in Kyoto. In 1997, he was designated as a Living National Treasure, becoming the first person to receive this distinction for embroidery.
Fukuda extensively studied traditional embroidery techniques under his father Kizaburo, a leading expert in embroidery. After hard training, he succeeded to the family business. His work covers not just embroidery, but the selection and dyeing of the cloth, and its imprinting with gold or silver leaf. He has created subtle modern expressions that are unique to embroidery, and in doing so, developed his own style.
Most of his works achieve beauty by combining dyeing and imprinting with gold or silver leaf. As he says, embroidery is half-solid, threads swell on the surface and give off colorful lights depending on the angle you view them.
In 1999, he received the purple medal of honor from the Emperor.
Doi Bamboo Forest (Doi-chikurin) is located in Kodono-cho, Owase, Mie Prefecture. The forest was created by local millionaire Hachiroubei Doi, who had made a fortune in lumber.
Around 250 years ago, Hachiroubei imported several thousand moso bamboo trees from Kagoshima, then planted and cultivated them in a forest near his home. The warm yet rainy climate of Owase, and a time span of over 200 years, allowed the bamboo forest to grow to a height of 15m, covering more than 400m2. Among these are trees that have thickened to more than 30 centimeters in circumference.
At the entrance of the bamboo forest is a small museum called the 'House of Dolls'. This small house, built during the early Meiji period, was a country house for the Doi family, and currently displays a wide array of dolls collected from many different countries around the world.
The bamboo forest is silent except for the rustle of the leaves in the gentle winds, allowing the visitor to feel a sense of subtle and profound peace. Doi Bamboo Forest is a space for pure relaxation, and gives a pure Japanese sentiment to all visitors.
Japan is said to be a technology-oriented nation and 'technology' usually means high-technology, such as semiconductors. But Japan has had frontier technology in every historical period.
Civil engineering technology, traditional handicrafts and arts are described as 'takumi' and feature fine and careful frontier technology that equals any high-technology in modern times.
Handicraft symbolises the expression of things in a small world. Fine and beautiful patterns on relatively small works are unique to Japan. If you can work sensitively within the limits available to many Japanese craftsmen, it is evidence that you are Japanese.
This 12cm-long strap has become a work of art in the hands of a braid artist who has inherited the takumi technique used in Kyoto. In this craft, splendid silk threads in the traditional colors of light pink and verdant green demonstrate the unique artistic sense of Japanese people.
Kasekake is a classical female dance-form and a part of traditional Ryukyu dance in Okinawa. Kasekake was originally a process of weaving yarn into cloth.
Kakesake as a dance assimilates movements of weaving yarn with movements of affection and love that the young wives experience after their loved ones depart and go forth while they are left to stay. The dancers wear crimson costumes, with their right shoulder out of their sleeves, while holding a reel of yarn and enacting weaving.
The reason why the dancers' right shoulders are not in their sleeves is so they can accurately depict the weaving movements. The dance itself does not involve furious movement and steps, but expresses delicacy through the subtle dancing that requires great experience and talent from the dancers.
This dance-form is not captivating for furious movement or dancing, but for its ability to give people the utmost feelings of affection and emotion through minimal movements.