Gyoki was a Japanese Buddhism priest of Nara period. He was a charismatic monk of the ancient Japanese Buddhism. He was called by the honorific title of Gyoki Bosatsu (Bodhisattva Gyoki).
Gyoki was born in Kawachi province (present-day Osaka Prefecture) in 668. He studied Buddhism under the priest Dosho of hokoji Temple in Asuka, and took Buddhist vows at the age of 15. He also studied civil engineering under Dosho. Advocating hat Buddhism should be independent of the regal power, he propagated Buddhism for salvation of the suffering people. He also contributed to social welfare like building temples, roads, bridges, irrigation reservoirs. The Imperia court was afraid of his overwhelming influence on common people and clamped down on his activities blaming that he had violated the law to regulate priests and nuns.
However, when Emperor Shomu asked Gyoki to help raise funds to build Daibutsu (a great Buddha statue) in Nara, Gyoki accepted the emperor’s request, and immediately began fund-raising campaigns. He was recognized by the Imperia court and was given a rank of Daisojo (the Great Priest). At the age of 80, he had passed away at Sugawaradera Temple in Nara in 749 just before the consecrating ceremony for the statue took place.
The legends about Gyoki Bosatsu are referred to in many books such as “the Nihon Ryoiki,” “the Honcho Hokke Kenki” and “the Nihon Ojo Gokurakuki.” It is said that he might have drawn the oldest Japanese map, “Gyoki-zu.”
A lock is a device for raising and lowering boats between stretches of water of different levels on river and canal waterways. It has a fixed chamber whose water level can be varied.
Ishii Locks are located at the junction of Kitakami Canal and the Kitakami River in Mizuoshi, Ishinomaki City, Miyagi Prefecture. It was constructed to adjust the water level of the canal. These brick-made classic locks were designed by Cornelis Johannes van Doorn, one of foreign advisors hired by the Japanese government for their specialized knowledge, by the order of Home Minister, Okubo Toshimichi, and was completed in 1880.
It is a representative remaining structure of Nobiru Port, which was planned and constructed by the Meiji government as the transportation base to develop the Tohoku region. It is also an earliest example of modern locks that were constructed all over the country from the Meiji to Taisho periods. Its historical value in civil engineering technology was highly esteemed and it was nationally designated as an Important Cultural Property.
Kiryu textile is the traditional handicraft handed down in Kiryu City, Gunma Prefecture. It is said that Kiryu textiles dates back to around A.D. 800, when Princess Shirataki, who had served at the Imperial Court, came to Kiryu after she married into the Yamada family and taught the art of sericulture and weaving to the people of the village. Kiryu textiles became well known throughout the country after Nitta Yoshisada raised an army at the end of the Kamakura period (1192-1333) and Tokugawa Ieyasu used a white silk flag produced in Kiryu at the Battle of Sekigahara in 1600.
In the middle of the 18th century, they invited two weavers of Nishijin to learn the most innovative techniques of the time. Then in the first half of the 19th century with patronage from the Shogunate, it became possible to produce high quality textiles. Being called “Nishijin in the west, Kiryu in the east,” the town of Kiryu was flourished as the production center of high quality textiles, which became one of the key industries of the country throughout the periods from Meiji to early Showa.
With unpopularity of kimono, the textile industry in Kiryu is also in a predicament now, but Kiryu is making its way to develop new products by introducing the latest technology.
Nitta-no-sho Ruins, a national Historic Site, is the ruins of the manor developed by Nitta Yoshishige in the late Heian period (794-1192).
The ruins are composed of 11 remains pertaining to the Nitta clan; the precincts of Enpukiji, Sojiji, Chorakuji and Meio-in temples, those of Junisho, Toshogu and Ikushina shrines, the ruins of Sorimachi Residence and Eda Residence, and Judono and Yadaijin headsprings. The remains spread in the huge area in the western half of present-day Ota City.
Nitta-no-sho Ruins are unique historic sites in that a number of the Middle-Age remains spreading in a huge area are collectively grasped as the components of one manor and designated as one Historic Site. The remains tell us the prosperity enjoyed by the Nitta clan, who played an active role in Japan’s history of the Middle Ages.
Tamamushi lacquer ware was developed in 1932 by Shun Koiwa (artist name: Komei), who taught at National Tohoku Craftworks Institute established in Sendai by the old Ministry of Commerce and Industry in 1928. Traditional lacquering techniques and some innovative techniques were combined together to create a product with styles favored by foreign people.
The origin of the name Tamamushi comes from the fact that it glitters just like a Tamamushi (jewel beetle). After a base coating with lacquer, silver power is sprinkled on the surface, over which lacquer is applied 10 times, or in special cases 40-50 times. Because of this silver coating and repeated lacquering processes, its color is iridescent and mysteriously beautiful. In the final stage, patterns are drawn and decorated with the techniques of Chinkin (gold-inlay carving) or Makie (gold and silver powdering).
In the post-war period, it became very popular in foreign countries and became the major lacquer ware item for export. Today, it enjoys a good reputation domestically and overseas as the lacquer ware that fits both Japanese and Western lifestyles.
Lake Mikawa in Habu Town in Toyota City, Aichi Prefecture, is a 107 hectare dam lake formed by the construction of Habu Dam in 1963. The lake was named so by the governor at the time of the completion of the construction work.
Surrounded by lofty mountains, this large lake is famous for its magnificent landscapes that change from season to season. You can go around the lake along the promenade. On the way, you can rent a boat or stop to enjoy the views from a landing pier or the observation platform.
The area around the lake has been developed as a recreation spot, where people can get acquainted with nature. Various facilities such as vast parking lot, a camping site, a boat club, a fishing zone and private hotels are provided. On the lake side stands a stone monument to praise the accomplishment of Kotaro Kawai, who devoted himself in the conservation and development of the area and the construction of the dam.
Kakiemon is a preeminent Japanese porcelain brand and is well-known worldwide. The most remarkable feature of Kakiemon is called “nigoshide”.
Nigoshide is the fine milky white base color developed to emphasize the beauty of paintings by Kakiemon. “Nigoshi” is a dialect of Saga, where Kakiemon wares are produced, and means “water after washing rice”, which is not pure white but a warm milky white color. It is this background color that enables the viewer to realize the beauty around the drawings that Kakiemon style is famous for. This technique was established at the beginning of Edo period by the fifth generation of Kakiemon when many wares were produced. However, mainly due to the high shipping costs, the production was discontinued temporarily. Later when there was an overwhelming demand by the Agency for Cultural Affairs and enthusiasts in general, production was revived around 1952 by Kakiemon XII and Kakiemon XIII.
In 1971, Nigoshide technique was designated as an Important Intangible Cultural Asset. Kakiemon X IV, a Living National Treasure, continues making new products blending traditional techniques passed on through generations with new modern techniques.
Embroidery is the art or handicraft of decorating fabric or other materials with designs stitched in thread or yarn using a needle. The art of embroidery was introduced to Japan from China about 1,600 to 1,700 years ago. Since then, embroidery had been the only way to decorate kimono until the pattern dyeing techniques of Yuzen was introduced. A lot of embroidery techniques were developed in every area of the country for a long time, which led to the present elaborate form of Japanese embroidery.
In ancient Japane, it was thought that stitches had a magical power. For this reason, there was a custome to add an embroidery motif called “Semori” on the back of a garment for children. Semori literally means a back protector. And as children’s kimono had fewer stiches than those of adults, Semori was added as a kind of charm to protect children from evil spirits.
From the similar ideas, embroidery was added to the junihitoe dress, a formal court lady costume in the Heian period (794-1192) and armors for samurai. These religeous element became a part of the bases for the development of embroidery in Japan and “stitches up” the Japanese style of elegance.