Rokutanji Temple located at the foot of Mt. Nijo in Taishi-cho, Minami-Kawachi-gun, Osaka Pref. is the oldest rock-cut temple in Japan. In the Nara period (710-794), the temple was created by carving natural tuff rock bed. At the center of the precinct stands a 13-story stone pagoda. The sitting images of Nyorai Sanzon-butsu (Nyorai Triad) are carved in line on the rock in the alcove hollowed in the eastern cliff. The head and chest of the Nyorai on the left have already been weathered away. Although a lot of rock-cut temples ruins are found in the Asian continent, they are rare in Japan. Rokutanji Temple ruin is one of those rare rock cave temple of Japan’s ancient Buddhism.
Hideaki Tokita, born in 1979, Tokyo, is a rising star in the world of “netsuke”. There are said to be less than a hundred netsuke artists left in Japan.
Netsuke, which became popular during Edo period, is a small accessory which serves as a toggle on a crafted box called “inrou”, or money pouch both of which hang from obi sash. Today, there are more netsuke collectors abroad than in Japan. Mr. Hideaki was exposed to netsuke for the first time while studying in New Zeeland which also led him to start learning jade sculpture
He met with Mr. Mick, a sculptor, who later became his teacher. Under Mr. Mick’s guidance, Mr. Tokita started carving and soon attracted attention and praise from world leading netsuke collectors. In 2007, he received a Newcomer Award from Japan Ivory Sculpture Association.
“Time spent observing is the same as time spent learning. Even for a piece of leaf, if you make an effort to learn something, you will be rewarded”.
His work, born from his ethos in which he pushes himself to the edge in order to sharpen and polish his artistic intuition, releases a powerful presence which is unique in the world.
Chinkin is the technique of decorating lacquerware by carving patterns into the lacquered surface using a special chisel called “chinkin-to,” then gold leaf or powder is inlayed into the curved design. The technique is said to have been introduced from China in the Muromachi period. It is the traditional handicraft in Wajima City, Ishikawa Pref. Fumio Mae (1940-), the holder of National Important Intangible Cultural Property (Living National Treasure) in Chinkin, studied under a master craftsman and his father, Tokuji Mae after his graduation from the Japanese Painting Department of Kanazawa College of Art in 1963. He advanced his studies in Chinkin-to chisels and even contrived his own chisels. Using a variety of excellent Chinkin techniques, he has created original, sensitive and expressive works. He is also contributing to the technical training in lacquering at the Wajima Lacquer Technique Training Center.
Kyoto Kakefuda, founded in 1925, is a long-established dyehouse in Shijyo Horikawa, Kyoto. Since its beginning, the store has been known as a custom order specialty store making the silk “furoshiki” wrapping cloth and the “fukusa” wrapping cloth which traditionally has a family crest and is passed from one generation to the next.
Hidetaka Kakefuda, upon succeeding as head of the family business, undertook the design and production of the cotton furoshiki used as a complementary gift for the name-taking ceremony of Nakamura Kanzaburo XVIII, a famous kabuki actor. He was so impressed with the practicality and usefulness of the cotton furoshiki that the following year, he announced his newly designed line of cotton furoshiki with traditional Japanese patterns which is designed off the shelf for more casual use. Aligned with his new line, the store changed its name to Kyoto Kakefuda and created a special logo for the cotton furoshiki, whose design took inspiration from his family crest.
Now that most design and manufacturing is split between different companies, a specialty store that undertakes the whole process of design, pattern making, dyeing, cutting, finishing and retailing under one brand has become rare and treasured. Despite the store's long established history, Kakefuda is also flexible and open to new ideas, and is pioneering a new direction away from the other established stores reluctant to change.
This geometric table with lacquer-coated carving was originally created as a display piece for the Milano Salone. Craftsmen were not used to working on the unusual patterns and size of a table such as this. In general, pictures were on the lacquer coated cravings, not geometrical designs. Some voices even exclaimed, “This project might be better done by machines!”. On the other hand, with a machine, there would be risks of pigments spreading into the grooves of the carving, during the lacquer coating.However, the craftsmen’s pride motivated them to create this table. When the table was completed, it gave a rich impression that could not have been machine-made. ‘It was difficult, though I had this chance to encounter a completely different set of values. This gave me a new idea in spatial craft making”, one craftsman commented with pleasure after completing the table. As a result, this table is a unique fusion of design and craft.A new state appears in which the environment is arranged to make design and craft combine and function together.
Table “Tenhan”・Lacquer-coated carving・ SizeW×D×H (mm) 800×800×25 (not including the leg)・ Designed byIntenionallies
Every surface of this side table is finished with tortoiseshell like carving, then covered in cloth, and finally coated with lacquer and polished. The hexagons that make up the surface of the table are carved to perfection and are aligned flawlessly. The texture and appearance of the table is abstract, yet eloquent. carving ＋ kikkou (tortoiseshell) design ＋ urushi (lacquer).Many different techniques and designs are used together to create something new and fresh in conventional times. The techniques and designs themselves aren’t modern or original. It is how the creator correlates these already existing techniques and designs in his or her unique way, to create something someone has never thought of before.
Side Table for Private Residence
Kikkou-bori (tortoiseshell carving) cloth covered and lacquered
Design: MLINARIC HENRY & ZERVUDACHI LTDl
Produced by: Ubushina,Yudai Tachikawa
Saga Giant Camphor Tree is a gigantic tree standing in Ookusu Park, Kawako, Wakagi -cho, Takeo, Saga Prefecture.
The tree is over 3,000 years old and towers over twenty five meters high with a trunk circumference of twenty one meters, and is ranked as the fifth largest surviving tree in Japan. It is designated as a natural monument of Japan.
The origin of the name of the town Saga is said to come from Yamato Takerunomikoto, a legendary hero who lived around the second century. Upon visiting Saga, he saw large camphor trees growing and called the country “Saka no kuni (prosperous country)”, which was shortened over time and became “Saga”.
The park preserves a Gyouki Buddha statue which was directly carved in the tree’s trunk by Gyouki, a noted Buddhist priest in Nara period. The Buddha statue remained on the tree until 1985 when it was removed from the tree due to worsening conditions.
Neighboring areas also have many giant camphor trees, notably one in Takeo and in Tsukazaki both of which are said to be over 3,000 years old and, along with the Kawako camphor tree, create a solemn majestic atmosphere.
Lion Head is a traditional handicraft handed down in Ishikawa Prefecture for hundreds of years. Lion Head is an indispensable element for Lion Dances in Kaga, in which the performers dance with the lion heads in their hands. The origin of Kaga lion head was that when Maeda Toshiie, the founder of Kaga clan, entered into Kanazawa Castle, the townspeople of Kanazawa celebrated it by dedicating a lion dance. Lion dances flourished as a means of martial arts training and lion heads were placed in each town as guardians. Production of lion heads also flourished because of the custom in private homes of displaying a lion head in the tokonoma alcove to celebrate the birth of a boy.
The materials used in lion heads are paulownia from the foot of Mt. Hakusan. Sculptors or busshi (sculptors of Buddhist images) manufacture lion heads with Itto-bori (one-knife carving) techniques. Kaga lion head is characterized by its glaring eyes, which gives a gallant and powerful impression. As it is hand-carved, no two products are exactly alike. Craftsman’s neat skill is fully exerted in this craft product.