NIPPON Kichi - 日本吉

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2007/6/22


旧日野宿本陣 Kyu-hinojuku-honjin Old Hinojuku Honjin

Jp En

Old Hinojuku honjin is the only honjin (the inn for the nobility and daimyo) building existing in Tokyo today. The original building was destroyed by fire on New Yea’s Day in 1849. What remains today was rebuilt by the proprietor of honjin and Nanushi (village officer), Sato Hikogoro. The construction works took as long as ten years until 1863. He lived here and reopened honjin in December, 1864. Keenly aware of importance of self-policing at the time of the fire, he enrolled at Tennen Rishin-ryu swordsmanship school. Being conferred full mastership later, he opened a dojo at home, where the members of the Shinsengumi including Kondo Isami, the commander, and Okita Soshi, the captain of the 1st unit, dropped in and practiced kendo on their way to Kyoto. There remains a room where Hikogoro’s younger brother in law, Ichimura Tetsunosuke was provided shelter after he visited Hikogoro to hand him the picture and a personal memento of Hijikata Toshizo, the deputy leader of the Shinsengumi. Old Hinojuku honjin is a historically important place not only as a honjin building but also as the place with many other roles.
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2007/4/12


広島 太田家住宅 Hiroshima Oota-ke-jyutaku Remains of Ota Residence

Jp En

Ota Residence located in Tomo, Tomo-cho, Fukuyama City, Hiroshima Pref. was a residence of the Nakamura family, who brewed and sold the town’s regional product, Homeishu (Japanese sweet herbal liquors), from the middle of the 17th century to the early 19th century. The main building stands in the southeastern corner of a vast site surrounded by alleys, along which other eight buildings including storehouses used for brewing liquors stand side by side. The white-walled storehouses look very impressive. These buildings were all built in the late Edo period (from the late 18th century to the early 19th century). The buildings as well as their interior are preserved well enough to show the atmosphere of the Edo period sake brewing store. These buildings form an important part of the historical neighborhood of Tomonoura. The residence was handed over to the Ota family in the Meiji period.
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2007/2/13


渋川問屋 Shibukawa-tonya The Shibukawa Merchant House

Jp En

The Shibukawa Merchant House comprises into one inn the shops, houses and warehouses of the largest seafood merchants in Aizu. The Shibukawa Merchant House used to be a large shop which sold seafood.

Today, the floors have absolutely no trace of dust anywhere and are always polished till they shine, in order for customers to feel at home. There is a room in the annex named 'Room of Patriotism' where the uncle of the late owner, Zensuke Shibukawa, spent his boyhood. In business since the early Meiji period, in addition to the Shibukawa Family, more than 50 servants lived in the mansion at the height of its prosperity.

Many locations for sightseeing such as the Amida Temple can be found in the vicinity. There are many activities for visitors, such as taking a stroll through the streets that had prospered during the Meiji and Taisho periods. These streets still retain their 'Taisho Roman' atmosphere, allowing visitors to enjoy the feeling of slipping back through time.
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2007/1/9


うだつの街並み Udatuno-matinami Streets Featuring Udatsu

Jp En

Streets featuring 'udatsu' may be seen in the town of Waki, Tokushima. The Agency of Cultural Affairs has designated these streets as Important Preservation Districts for Groups of Historic Buildings in Japan. In addition, The Ministry of Construction has selected these streets to be included among 100 (Famous) Streets of Japan and 100 (Famous) Urban Landscapes.

Udatsu are the white-plastered parts above the first floor of the houses, and were originally built to act as firewalls between each house. However, they slowly took on a more decorative function, becoming increasingly gorgeous. Eventually, roof tiles came to cover the plaster.

Fine udatsu were created for the houses of merchants around the Kansai area. The proverb 'Can’t build up the udatsu' comes from these udatsu.

To preserve these streets, the town of Waki followed national regulations for urban scenery in 1998, which led to Waki's streets being selected as the 28th Urban Landscape of Japan by The Agency of Cultural Affairs.

These streets featuring udatsu have a calm and nostalgic feel that makes you think of everyday life in Edo times.
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2006/12/22


石州和紙 Sekisyuu-washi Sekisyuu Japanese Paper

Jp En

A traditional craftwork and hand made paper; Sekishu-washi is still made on the western side of Ishimi, in Shimane Prefecture. It is said that this paper dates back 1,300 years. The materials are paper mulberry and the basts of certain plants. Merchants from Osaka used to favor Sekishu Japanese writing paper for account ledgers. For a merchant, the account ledger is the second most valuable thing after life, and when they encountered a fire disaster, they threw the ledger into the well to prevent it from getting burnt. It is also said that the Sekishu Japanese writing paper was made supple yet tough, therefore the merchants never lost the customer information. There are over 10 steps to making Sekishu-washi, from the procurement of material, the processing to the paper straining. All of the work is done by hand, and sophisticated skill is necessary to be a craftsman. It is designated as an Important Intangible Cultural Property.
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2006/12/20


北国街道 Kokkoku-kaidou The Hokkoku Kaido Road

Jp En

The Hokkoku Kaido Road is the generic name of the main roads in Hokuriku region in the Edo period. There were actually three roads running through this region; the Hokuriku-do Highway, which went to the west from Naoetsu (present Niigata Pref.), the Hokkoku Nishi Kaido (West Road), which linked Seba (present Shiojiri City) on the Nakasendo Road and Tanbajima (present Nagano City), and the Hokkoku Waki Okan (Byroad of the Hokkoku Highway). At the present, this byroad is often referred to as the Hokkoku Kaido Road. The road with a total length of 140 km crossed the whole area of Shinshu region and linked Oiwake (present Karuizawa) on the Nakasendo Highway and Takada (present Joetsu City) on the Hokuriku Highway. This road connecting the Pacific side and the Northern coastal side of the country played an important role as the gold route that carried the gold mined at Sado Gold Mine and the sankin kotai (the system of “alternate attendance”) route of the feudal lords including that of Maeda clan, who were given the fiefs in the Hokuriku region. It was also used for carrying commodities from the Hokuriku region to the Kanto region. The road was sometimes called “Zenkoji Kaido,” because it was used by the pilgrims visiting Zenkoji Temple in Nagano City. At the present, Route 18 traces about the same route as the Edo period Hokkoku Kaido.
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2006/12/17


大阪銅器 Osaka-douki Osaka Copper Ware

Jp En

Osaka copper ware is a prefecture’s designated Traditional Craft Product. Various items including tea utensil or cake bowls are made carefully by hand. This handicraft dates back to the 16th Century, when a smelting technology called “Nanbanshibori (cupellation),” which involves the extraction of gold and silver from crude copper, was introduced into Japan. At its peak, there were more than 10,000 workmen in Osaka district. In the Edo period, all the copper excavated from the mines was purchased by Doza (a government copper administration agency) in Osaka, and Osaka thrived as the center of copperware production. The traditional techniques in metal carving, molding, and forging are applied to the present production processes. The various items from Buddhist altar decorations to daily commodities are produced now. Osaka copperware is distinctive not only in its durability but in its design as well. The beautiful curved and folded lines are unique to copper boards, and the style is very solid and sober.
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2006/12/15


大阪唐木指物 Oosaka-karaki-sashimono Osaka Karaki Joinery

Jp En

The first article of manufacture made of wood called karaki (wood of Tang) was brought to Japan by the envoys to Tang China during Nara period. Several karaki items of those days are now housed in Shoso-in Treasure House in Nara. Later on Japanese craftsmen also began to manufacture karaki woodcraft, which finally bore fruit in superior skills seen in a current Osaka karaki joinery.The current formation of production areas was put into place as early as mid-Edo Period, when the wealthy merchant class emerged in Kyoto and Osakaand increasing number of people began to use karaki joinery as their utensils or furnishings for tea ceremony or incense burning.
Osaka karakijoinery also became established during this period. According to a record in Osaka pharmaceutical industry, most of karaki woods brought to Japan via Nagasaki were distributed through a whole saler of medicines in Osaka. A lot of craftsmen specialized in making karaki articles appeared, and their products have begun to circulate to the public widely.The main articles of Osaka karaki joinery are cabinets, tea shelves andtables including low tables and flower stands, all of which are made of karaki such as rosewood or ebonywood. Zataku (low dining table), which first appeared in Meiji Period, is one of the major products in the current karaki joinery.
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