Neriagede is an artistic technique for creating ceramic pottery by layering or blending of clay of different colors to create a striped or marbleized effect. It requires high level of pottery techniques. Quite simply saying, it can be a little like making a tiered cake (baumkuhen).
The Neriagede shaping process comprises the steps of stacking alternately a plurality of clay boards differing from each other in color, which creates beautiful striped or marble-like patterns. In order to avoid cracking and breaking which come along with mixing a variety of different kinds of clay or during firing, high level of thechniques and extensive experiences are required.
The thechnique of Neriagede is said to be derived from the marbeling tchnique (called “Kotai” in Japan) in the Tang Dynasty China in the 7th century. It is said to have been introduced to Japan around the Azuchi-momoyama period (1568-1598), for there are several pieces of Neriagede pottery, which were supposedly made in this era, have been found.
In recent years, the techniques to color the clay itself is invented and more complex and highly artistic works are being created. New “layers” of the techniques are overlapped on to the traditional “layers,” which continuously propels the development of this high-leveled ceramic ware.
The Koori Castle ruins site is located in Hebinumayama, Sanbongi Koori, Osaki City, Miyagi Prefecture. The castle was resided by Shibuya Sagaminokami, a retainer of the Osaki clan, during the Warring States period (1493-1573). After the area was ruled by the Date clan, Shibata Muneyoshi, the father of Oyama-no-kata, one of Date Masamune’s concubines, temporarily resided in the castle.
Fortified with the Naruse River and the steep cliff facing deep mountains, it was presumably an impregnable castle. The ruins site is arranged into Tateyama Park, from which you can command a panoramic view of rice paddies in Osaki Plain. It is famous as a cherry blossom viewing spot. In spring, 900 old cherry trees beautifully come into bloom.
The annual grand festival is held at Osaki Hachimangu Shrine in Sendai City, Miyagi Prefecture, in September every year. Osaki Hachimangu is a historic shrine founded in 1607 by Date Masamune as the highest guardian god of the Sendai domain, which boasted the revenue of 620,000 koku of rice.
The gorgeous Shaden (shrine building) architecture represents the reins of power held by the clan. As the oldest structure ever built in the Toshogu style known as Gongen-zukuri, which brings the culture of the Azuchi-Momoyama period (1568-1598) to the present day, the shrine pavilion was designated as a National Treasure in 1952.
At the annual festival, the valiant Yabusame (horseback archery) ritual, which has been handed down since the Edo period (1603-1868), and the Noh Kagura, a designated Important Intangible Folk Cultural Property, are dedicated to the deities.
The Shinko (God’s Travel) Festival held during the grand festival period was revived in 1984. The magnificent procession of the black lacquered large mikoshi (portable shrine), which is said to have been dedicated by Date Masamune, goes through the city, attended by about 500 worshippers in white costumes. The procession route is crowded with spectators who want to see this grand parade.
It is said that Sendai Chests were created by a local carpenter during the Azuchi-Momoyama period (1568-1598). They are solid, yet elegant chests made of zelkova or chestnut wood. The surface of the wood is finished with kijiro lacquer to create transparent coating to bring out the beauty of the grains.
As Sendai Chests were originally made for warriors, they are contrived to contain long things such as a sword or a hakama (a formal men’s divided long skirt). They are also characterized with elaborate metal fittings on which patterns of dragons, Chinese lions, peony flowers and arabesques are hammered out. About 70 to 80 iron fittings are attached to one chest. This elaborate ironwork adds elegant and artistic flavor to a solid chest for men.
Further improvement has been made in skills and techniques, and products in new styles that fit the modern life have been added to the traditional product line. Going through a history of 500 years, they still keep on changing to add colors to people’s lifestyles.
Shino Ware is most identifiable for a squat and cylindrical shape with thick white glazes. It is one of the Mino-styled pottery, which started to be made in the Azuchi-momoyama period in the late 16th century. Using glazers mixed with feldspar and iron oxide, various colors are created. The color variation from white, gray, to red depends on the combination of the glazers and the firing time and method.
It was favored by tea masters of the time, but was gradually declined because many potters all over the country started to copy the style of this pottery, by which Shino ware lost its originality and were gradually fogotten by people.
It was in 1930 when Shino ware was revived by the hands of Toyozo Arakawa. Having been born in the Mino region, he had a special affection for Shino pottery and discovered the old Momoyama kiln. Then he developed the first modern Shino glaze by studying Monoyama Shino pots. Since then he had actively fired his Mino wares in a kiln very much like those of the Momoyama potters and contributed to the revival of this old pottery. Today, a lot of potters are fascinated by this pottery and eager to create thir original Shino pottery works.
Yamaage Festival held in July every year in Nasu Karasuyama City, Tochigi Prefecture is a dynamic performance of outdoor kabuki, which is nationally designated as an Important Intangible Cultural Property. The history of this outdoor kabuki dates back to 1560, when Nasu Suketane, the castellan of Karasuyama Castle enshrined Susanoo no Mikoto at Yakumo Shrine and prayed for the country’s stability and a rich harvest. During the Kanbun era (1661-1672), a dance performance was first dedicated to the deity in addition to the sumo wrestling matches and Kagura Loin Dance. In the Horeki era (1716-1763), kabuki dances began to be performed and later it took the form of the outdoor kabuki plays.
On the day of the festival, about 150 young stagehands quickly build a kabuki stage with “yama (backdrops),” which is made of bamboo and traditional Japanese paper produced in the Nasu area. When musicians start playing the Tokiwazu-bushi shamisen, local kabuki players appear on the stage and play kabuki dramas such as “Masakado,” “Modoribashi,” and “Yoshinoyama.” After the performance, the stagehand staff quickly breaks up the set, carries all necessary parts to the next locale and re-builds the stage for the next performance. The performances are held five to six times a day.
The region around Hikita, Higashikagawa, Kagawa Prefecture, formerly a castle town, was where Hikita castle once stood.
Hikita Castle was built by Ikoma Chikamasa, a general who played an active part during the Azuchi-Momoyama period. Today, only the slight remains of the castle walls are evident at the site.
Hikita is known for its manufacturing of soy sauce. The Sano Family's Izutsuya store, the Okada Family's Kamebishiya store and the Kusaka Family's Daishoya store were run by three successful and wealthy merchant families who were called the Hikita Gosanke (Hikita's big three merchants). The estates of these three merchants and private houses from the Edo period still remain. Many kinds of stores can be seen within the renovated kyuu-Izutsu-yashiki. A Kamebishiya, situated to the north of the Izutsu-yashiki, stands out from the rest of the buildings with its tiled roof and red walls. By walking to the south of the town, the majestic gate to the estate of the Hikita family can be seen, and in front of that, is the old Hikita post office. Compared to the long row houses seen in the town, the post office is built in a Taisho modern style, with its distinct octagonal windows positioned in an orderly line.
The scenery and the distinct atmosphere created by the buildings of Hikita help communicate the history of the town without leaving anything behind.