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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2008/8/4


本阿弥光悦 Honami-kouetsu Hon’ami Koetsu

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Hon’ami Koetsu was a calligrapher and artist in the early Edo period. He was also well known as the leading tea master of the time.
Hon’ami Koetsu was born into a family of swordsmiths who created and sharpened swords in Kyoto. He showed talent in a wide range of fields including calligraphy, pottery, lacquer, publishing, architecture and landscape design.
He especially excelled in calligraphy and, along with Konoe Nobutada and Shokodo Shojo, he came to be known as one of the Three Brushes of the Kan’ei Era (Kan’ei no Sanpitsu) . He founded his own personal style known as Koetsu-ryu, developed from the Japanese calligraphy style.
Hon’ami is also credited with founding the Rimpa School in the field of painting, together with Tawaraya Sotasu and Ogata Korin. His works include Rakuyaki Kamigawa-chawan ceramic teacups and Funabashi Makie Suzuribako lacquer work- both of which are designated as National Treasures, and Tsurushitae-wakakan painting, designated as an Important Cultural Asset.
In 1615, Hon’ami began an artist community called Koetsu-mura or Koetsu village in Takagamine, north of Kyoto, in the land granted by Tokugawa Ieyasu. He developed his own artistic style further and was also believed to have supervised all the work there.
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2008/6/24


大野勇太郎 Oono Yuutarou Yuutarou Ohno

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Yuutaro Oono was born  in Tokyo in 1935. He is currently the CEO of Ohno Seimitsu Kogyo Co. Ltd.
     After graduating from Hokunoujima Technology High School, Mr. Oono was employed by an 8mm film company. In 1978, he started Ohno Seimitsu Kogyo Co. Ltd which specializes in making gears. He also dedicated himself to bringing back Karakuri dolls , which were popular in the Edo period, to modern times, using the advanced techniques of  modern  gear making.
     Mr. Oono first learned about Karakuri in an engineering book and he became passionately interested in them.  He had acquired a copy of “Karakuri-zui”, an illustrated compendium of mechanical devices written by Hanzou Hosokawa, a legendary karakuri artisan of the Edo period. Mr. Oono began studying the book intensely and, for the last 20 years, he has been reproducing the Karakuri dolls most loved by people in the Edo period such as “tea serving doll”, “shinan guruma” and the “Karakuri clock”.
     Each doll is made using about 80 different parts, not counting its face and clothing.  The dolls are created in such a way as to preserve traditional methods as much as possible. The fusion of the Edo period and modern times shows both beauty and functionality.
     Mr. Oono’s next project is to bring back “Yumihari Warawa, or “ Boy Archer”, which shows  a boy shooting an arrow at a target. His tremendous respect for  the Karakuri artists of the Edo period motivates him to try to recreate the Karakuri Dolls most beloved in that period, so that people can remember and appreciate their heritage.
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2008/4/22


アクリルのからくり人形 Akuriru-no-kawakuri-ningyou Acrylic Karakuri Doll

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The word Karakuri was used to describe traditional Japanese mechanical devices. In the Edo period especially, gears from clocks were first used to make moving dolls and the elaborate Karakuri doll tradition began.
  It was Hanzou Hosokawa from the Tosa region who first revealed to the general public the way the Karakuri work, using easily understood illustrations. His book, Kkarakuri-zui, had a tremendous impact on many artisans who later developed their own techniques in the field.  This book is considered to be the foundation of Japanese robotic technology.
In the 20th century, acrylic resin was invented and the Karakuri techniques were handed down to Yuutarou Oono.  Mr. Oono not only successfully revived Hosokawa`s Karakuri but,  in a similar spirit of openness, he made them out of transparent acrylic.  It is exciting to see a doll in a beautiful kimono bringing and serving tea but people were doubly delighted to to see the dolls’ inner workings as well. The transparent gears developed by modern technology allowed this to be possible.
It is the spirit of true Karakuri artists to honor the people’s desire to know and also create such beautiful dolls that are totally in keeping with the Japanese people’s sense of esthetics.
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2008/3/5