NIPPON Kichi - 日本吉

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日光彫 Nikkou-bori Nikko Carving

Jp En

Nikko carving is a traditional handicraft in Nikko City, Tochigi Prefecture. In 1634, the 3rd Shogun, Tokugawa Iemitsu declared that he was going to give a large-scale improvement to Toshogu Shrine, by which it was rebuilt into the present magnificent forms. Then he assembled as many as 1,680,000 workmen including miya-daiku (carpenters specialized in building temples and shrines), horimono-daiku (specialist carpenters engaged in transom sculpture), lacquerers, metal workers, and painters from all over the country. Among them, 400,000 were horimono-daiku and what they made at their leisure was the origin of the present Nikko carving.

After the construction of Toshogu Shrine, some of the horimono-daiku settled in the town of Nikko and were engaged in repair work or improvement work of Toshogu, while kept on making wooden trays or furniture, which were sold to sightseers as souvenirs. Since the Meiji period (1868-1912), a large number of Nikko carved products have been exported.

Most of the products are made of chestnut wood. Nikko carving products have a warm feeling of wood and a nice taste that is created by careful handiwork. There are also expensive products made with Tsuishu technique, in which thick layers of solid lacquer is engraved with designs.
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七夕絵灯篭まつり Tanabata-edourou-matsuri Tanabata Edoro Matsuri

Jp En

Tanabata Edoro Matsuri is a festival held in Yuzawa City, Akita Pref. in August every year. A lot of decorative strips and paperwork are attached to thick bamboo poles and boxes with pretty ladies painted on them are lit up at night. The festival dates back to the middle of the Edo period (around 1700), when a princess of Takatsukasa family, a court noble in Kyoto, married into Satake Yoshiyasu, the 5th head of the Stake Nanke clan, one of the branch family of the Akita domain lord. Gripped by homesickness, the princess wrote her nostalgic feelings on strips and put them on a bamboo pole. Accordingly the townspeople who heard of the princess’s grief began to display strips and streamers on the bamboo poles and prayed that she might get over the grief. After the Meiji period (1868-1912), the present lantern boxes were began to be displayed on the streets. The boxes are also displayed in the city hall all through the year. A lot of visitors come to enjoy this fantastic summer festival held to the memory of the princess.
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鳥獣戯画 Chou-juu-giga Choju Giga Scroll

Jp En

Choju Giga (Caricature Painting of Birds and Beasts) is a scroll painting in Toganosan Kozanji Temple in Arashiyama, Kyoto.
The official name of the scroll is 'Bird Beast Human Scroll'.  It consists of four volumes and is designated a National Treasure.
From the end of the Heian period to the early Kamakura period, a monk of the Tendai Buddhist sect, Toba-soju-kakuyu is supposed to have painted the scroll, but many people believe it to be executed by several painters.
In the caricature, animals are depicted as humanlike; rabbits, monkeys, frogs, cattle, dogs, giraffes and so on. The scroll is an ironic description of the world at that time. but some parts of the scroll have been lost or are hard to understand.
The depiction of animals as humanlike and drawn with an emphasis on quickly-painted line to suggest movement is said to be the origin of comic drawing and animation in Japan today.
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尾形光琳 Ogata Kourin Ogata Korin

Jp En

Ogata Korin (1658-July 20, 1716) was a Japanese painter and lacquerer. He was born in Kyoto, as a second son of a wealthy merchant, who ran a shop Kariganeya dealing in kimono fabrics. His father died when he was thirty. By this time, Kariganeya had already bankrupted, but Korin would not stop pursueing his pleasure. Faced with financial difficultied, he started painting in around 1701. Being patronized by noble men including the Nijo family as well as daimyo and actors, he created a lot of decorative paintings. When one of his patron, Nakamura Kuranosuke, who was a government official in Kyoto, was transferred to Edo (present-day Tokyo) in 1704, Korin also moved to Edo, where again his works were highly appreciated by wealthy merchants and daimyo. He went back to Kyoto in 1709 and left a lot of masterpieces including folding screens, ko-zutsumi (wrapping paper for incense wood), Japanese folding fans, makie, and paintings for the ceramics made by his ypunger brother , Ogata Kanzan. His work was characterized by careful composition, sense of rhythm, and gorgeous coloring. His brushwork was called Rinpa School, which became one of the major historical schools of Japanese decorative painting, and the decorative designs which resemble the work of Ogata Korin were called “Korin Monyo.”
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禅源寺 五百羅漢図 Zengen-ji Gohyakurakan-zu The paintings of Gohyaku Rakan at Zengenji Temple

Jp En

Zengenji is a Soto Zen temple in Hama-cho in Furubira-cho, Hokkaido. It was founded in 1858 by a Zen monk Taido.

480 paintings of Gohyaku Rakan (500 arhats) housed at Zengenji Temple were painted in oils, which is very unique for Buddhist paintings in Japan. In 1919 Tomitaro Taneda, a local fisherman, was on his way home from fishing in Sakhalin, when he was shipwrecked due to a heavy storm off the coast of Rishiri Island. He was saved by a Russian ship after drifting for two days and two nights. Tomitaro thought that he was saved by Kannon, which he worshipped every day, and decided to dedicate 500 Rakan to express his gratitude.

As a wooden statue is easy to get damaged and a Japanese-style painting is difficult to preserve, he decided on oil painting. Having received a request from him, Takejiro Hayashi, who was teaching fine arts in Sapporo, stated painting Rakan pictures in 1920. It took him as long as 20 years to accomplish this feat.
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浮世絵 Ukiyo-e Ukiyoe

Jp En

Ukiyoe are woodblock prints depicting aspects of life in the Edo period. 'Ukiyo' means the present world and ukiyoe are pictures that take as their subject daily life, scenery and people during that period.
Lives of the common people were first depicted in Kyoto during the Azuchi-momoyama period. After that, ukiyoe spread and became popular among many people in the Edo period.
In the beginning, depictions of people were only painted by hand or printed in a few light colours.  But with advances in printing techniques and the improvement in quality of paper, colorful prints called nishikie, were also made and became popular.
The subject matter of ukiyoe varies from figures, such as beautiful ladies, actors and samurai, to famous views and humorous stories.
Although the artistic level of ukiyoe is very high, they were only printed to be used as fliers or posters. In the Meiji period, they were even used as a wrapping paper for export pottery. Many foreign artists were influenced by the prints that they saw this way.
Ukiyoe is famous all over the world and attracts many people.
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うちのこ紋 Uchinoko-mon Uchinoko Insignia

Jp En

Recently branding has been the focus of increased attention in popular media; now the focus has shifted from organizations to the individual, and we are all expected to have a brand!

Uchinoko-mon is a design agency who design not family insignia but personal insignia or logo. You can have your favorite painter design a special insignia, your unique brand to distinguish you in the modern world. They have various motif designs from plants and animals to portraits. While they inherit the tradition of Japanese insignia, their characteristic designs reflect a more contemporary take on modern aesthetic.

Uchinoko-mon also offer goods featuring personal insignia such as new year's cards or shop cards. You can also order stickers or labels for bottles.

Your personal insignia is the only one in the world. You can enjoy not only seeing it but using it and applying it for your personal branding needs.
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越前和紙 Echizen-washi Echizen paper

Jp En

Among various Japanese papers, Echizen paper is especially preferred for its
delicate gloss and sublime daintiness. This handsome paper has been made in
a quiet mountain town of Imadate, Fukui Pref.. Legend has it that some 1,500
years ago, a beautiful princess came to the Okatagawa River in this town and
taught the people how to make paper. In the Nara period (710−794), the
paper was highly esteemed for copying Buddhist sutras. Later, when the
warrior class began to use paper in large quantities, papermaking skills
were improved and quantity production was possible. High quality papers such
as Echizen Hosho were also produced around this period. Then this area was
given the Shogunate patronage as a paper producing area and further
development was made. The high quality of Echizen paper, filtered through
clean water in its papermaking process, has been favored by a lot of artists
including the famous painter, Taikan Yokoyama. In recent times, it is used
for various purposes such as the sliding screens (fusuma of Japanese
traditional houses ), diplomas, writing cards, envelopes and writing paper.
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"Nippon-kichi" leads you to places, people and things that reveal a certain Japanese aesthetic.

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