“If I have to accept an artificial heart into my body, I would like it to be painless and look cool”, said the designer, Kazuo Kawasaki, who sought functional progress and an aesthetic sense for an artificial heart even it resides inside the body and is invisible from the outside.
It was the technology of the stereolithography system that made his vision become real. Stereolithography allows for the creation of three-dimensional (3-D) objects, in this case using resin, from CAD data. Even complicated shapes like those that can be seen in Trompe-l'œil, or trick art, can be turned accurately into a real object.
Fusion is one of key words to describe the tendency of recent high-end technology developments. By fusing ideas and technologies from different fields, it becomes possible to break though the walls of limitation. Artificial hearts are seen as a new technology, an alternative to heart transplants, and their development is being advanced from areas beyond the medical field in a way that has not seen before. It is an exciting development that attracts lots of anticipation for the future.
Kameyama-juku was the 46th of the 53 post stations of the Tokaido Road in the Edo period (1603-1686). It was in the eastern part of current Kameyama City in Mie Prefecture. The town thrived as a post town and a castle town as well. There are a lot of historic sites such as the ruins of Kameyama Castle including the ruins of Edoguchi-mon Gate and Kyoguchi-mon Gate and the site where the Ishii brothers gained revenge.
In Ando Hiroshige’s “Kameyama” of his “The 53 Post Stations of the Tokaido Road,” he depicted a procession of a feudal lord ascending a steep hillside, under deep snow among the trees, to the entrance to Kameyama Castle. The brightness of snow is wonderfully expressed in this monochromatic ink painting, but at the same time we can’t help realizing keenly how hard it was to make a journey in those days.
Presently, there are many historic constructions remaining in the town. These remnants of an ancient castle town include a temple, which used to be a part of the castle compound, old samurai houses, and the right-angled streets.
Shoin Shrine was founded in 1890 to enshrine Yoshida Shoin, who had devoted to developing many Sonno Shishi warriors until he was executed at age 29. His discoples include Takasugi Shinsaku, Kusaka Genzui, Maebara Issei, Yamagata Aritomo and Ito Hirofumi, who respectively made an outstanding contribution to the Meiji Restoration.
In 1955, the shrine was removed to the present location, where the shrine building was newly constructed. The old shrine building also exists in the north of the precinct as an attached shrine Shomon Shrine, where Shoin’s disciples are enshrined.
There area many historic ruins remaining in the precinct, which include the old house where Shoin was sentenced to house arrest and ran Shokasonjuku Academy to teach the youth. It is now open to the public.
As the deity of study, Shoin Shrine is the most respected shrine in the city of Hagi and visited by a lot of people especially on New Year’s Day.
Naruko Kokeshi Festival is held in September every year at Onsen Shrine in Naruko Hot Springs in Osaki City, Miyagi Prefecture. From its historical importance and scale, it is considered as one of the two major kokeshi-doll competitions in Japan. Joining this competition is one of the goals for kokeshi-doll craftsmen all over the country.
During the festival, 200 kokeshi-dolls are dedicated to the shrine by kokeshi-doll craftsmen from all over the county in hope of making further more excellent dolls. The exhibition of the awarded kokeshi-dolls, spot sale and demonstrations of kokeshi-doll making are held at the gymnasium of Naruko Elementary School. The display and spot sale of Naruko lacquer ware and the kokeshi-kuyo (doll memorialization) ceremony are held at the town’s health center. Kokeshi-doll craftsmen compete against one another in their skills and ideas shown in both traditional-styled dolls and creative works. At night, the festival parade and the Kokeshi-bayashi (ohayashi music) competition are held at the Hot Spring Plaza.
Okazaki-juku was the 38th of the 53 post stations of the Tokaido Road in the Edo period (1603-1868). It was in current Okazaki City in Aichi Prefecture. The town of Okazaki was the castle town of the Okazaki domain enfeoffed with 50,000 koku of rice. Located at the point where the Yahagi River and the Otogawa River confluent, the town was also the waterway transportation center in the area.
The town was arranged into the present form by Tanaka Yoshimasa, who was enfeoffed with Okazaki Castle in 1590. He changed the route of the Tokaido Road, which had run in the outskirt of the town, and let it run through the town. Furthermore, he made so many right-angle bends in the road as to be called “27 Bends” to protect the town from enemy attacks. The construction took as long as ten years. Today there is a stone monument showing how this bending road is running through the town.
In the Edo period, the Okazaki domain was specially treated by the Tokugawa Shogunate as the birthplace of Tokugawa Ieyasu, and the successive domain lords were selected from Fudai daimyo (hereditary vassals of the Shogun).
Tsuchiyama-juku was the 43rd of the 53 post stations of the Tokaido Road. It is now ex-Tsuchiyama-cho in Koga City, Shiga Prefecture. The post station was located at the western foot of Suzuka Pass, which was a famous choke point of the Tokaido Road. As was sung in an old popular song, there was high rainfall in this area. Ando Hiroshige, a famous Ukiyoe painter in the Edo period (1603-186), also painted a picture “Spring Rain in Tsuchiyama,” in which a line of travelers are walking hurriedly in a pouring rain with their heads keeping down. Today, there are several historical spots such as the ruins of the honjin (the lodging for daimyo and nobilities) and other inns, an ancient milestone of the Tokaido Road, and a row of pine trees.
Otsu-juku in present Otsu City, Shiga Prefecture was the 53rd of 53 post stations of the Tokaido Road and the 69th of 69 post stations of the Nakasendo Road; that is, the last post station on the long way from Edo to Kyoto. Since the honjin (the lodging for daimyo and the nobility) was built in 1602, it had developed in to a large town with 100 sub-towns and the population of 18,000. It was the largest post station on the roads with 2 honjin, 1 sub-honjin and 71 inns lining along the street. The town was also the important point of traffic, where commodities via Lake Biwa were collected and distributed.
The famous Ukiyoe artist Ando Hiroshige depicted tea houses along the street, where travelers drank tea to relieve their thirst. The place where the tea houses were located was known for the clear spring water called “Hashirii no Shimizu,” which still springs out of the well in the precinct of Gesshinji Temple.
Hashirii-mochi, which was served with Japanese green tea at these tea houses, is a soft rice cake ball with bean jam in it. It is still loved by both local people and tourists. Contrary to the prosperity at the time, Otsu-juku at present is a quiet town, where only the stone monument tells us the thriving atmosphere in the old days.
Usui Checkpoint was built at Usui Pass in present-day Matsuida-cho, Annaka City, Gunma Prefecture as one of the checkpoints, which the second Shogun Tokugawa Hidetada ordered to build on the Nakasendo Road in 1623 to control “Irideppo ni Deonna” (guns coming into Edo and women leaving Edo). It was referred to as one of Three Great Checkpoints in the Edo period. It had functioned as the most important checkpoint on the Nakasendo Road until 1869, when the checkpoint system was abolished.
In 1959, the eastern gate of the checkpoint was restored to its original form after the design by Gaijiro Fujishima, a professor of Tokyo University and Doctor of Engineering. The posts and door boards of the original building were used for the new gate. It is made of zelkova wood, and metal fittings are used to reinforce the structure.
On the second Sunday in May every year, Usui Pass Checkpoint Festival is held, where people come to enjoy listening to Yagibushi song and Japanese drums as well as seeing the local children in the costumes of checkpoint officers.