When most rooms in Japanese houses had tatami floors, an easy daily cleanup was done with broom and dustpan. Sweeping removed dust quickly and was a simple activity that kept everyday life clean.
Such scenes are seen less and less often these days, but is this a good thing, even though our lifestyles are getting more diverse? Just to clean up a small space, we have to pull out a vacuum cleaner, use it for a short period, then put it back.
Bearing this in mind, why don't you keep a broom and 'harimi' (paper dustpan) in your room? A harimi is made from Japanese paper coated with persimmon tannin, and the size is about 20cm. The color of a harimi is appropriate and it will fit in with any kind of room. The size is quite small and it does not appear jarring.
Daily tools like a harimi look wonderful, even when left lying around in a room. Moreover, a harimi is very useful when used with a small broom for little spaces such as desktops and shelves.
Originally Japan had many words to describe the moon according to its changing shape through waxing and waning. They are all elegantly named for the different phases: Shin-getsu (new moon), San-getsu (very fine moon of 2nd day), Mika-zuki (crescent, 3rd day ), Jougen no tsuki (bow shape moon of 7th day), Komochi-zuki (near full moon of 14th day), Tachimachi-zuki ( standing and waiting for the moon to appear, 17th day), Nemachi-zuki (Laying down and waiting for the moon to appear, 19th day), Ariake-zuki (morning moon, 26th day or general name after 16th) and so on.
The Moon Plate created by Mutsuko Shibata is a simple but imposing plate with a beautiful gold drizzled pattern. It has strength in its stillness. With a variety of food and seasonal ingredients available, you can enjoy the rich compliment of the two faces of the plate and food, a luxury in daily life.
You can arrange food to look like a hazy moon, or see a beam from the moon light in the golden drops. Besides being perfect to serve guests, the plate is also a good everyday item.
Large W 27 cm x D 27 cmx H 2.5 cm
Small W 15 cm x D 15 cm x H 2 cm
Tsumugi are silk textiles woven by hand using thread collected from the floss of the cocoons.
The floss is made from debris of the cocoons and spun by hand into thread. Because the thread is called “tetsumugi ito” or “ tsumugi ito”, the textile made from the thread became to be known as tsumugi.
Tsumugi is characterized by its unique texture and dull gloss coming from subtle variations of the tetsumugi threads. It is extremely durable and has been used for everyday clothes and working clothes since ancient times.
Thus, tsumugi, although it is silk, was not used for formal wear. However, during Edo period, many stylish, fashionable people liked tsumugi’s color palate and texture with its muted gloss despite it being silk. They found it expressed an austere elegance and considered it a stylish fabric that expressed their good taste nonchalantly. They generally wore it as outer clothing and dressing up in tsumugi became popular.
Though tsumugi is durable, because the newly woven cloth is hard and quite uncomfortable to wear, it is said that wealthy merchants had their clerks wear them first to break them in.
It could be fun to try a newly woven hard tsumugi and act cool like a rakugo comedian.
Mumyoi ware is a type of pottery made of mumyoi clay, which contains ferrous oxide and is obtained near the ancient goldmine on Sado Island in Niigata Prefecture. Originally, mumyoi was used for medical purposes such as relieving symptoms of palsy, digestive problems, burns, and helping to stop bleeding.
The pottery was first produced in 1819, when they were fired at relatively low temperature. The large-scale production adopting high-temperature firing was started in 1857. Unlike other clay wares, Mumyoi ware requires extra processing efforts such as raw-polish, a process that polishes the products with cotton cloth before firing, and a process of polishing with sand after firing.
As Mumyoi pottery is fired in a kiln at a high temperature, it becomes exceptionally hard. It is well-known that Mumyoi ware produces a clear metallic sound when tapped. The more it is used, the glossier it becomes. Mumyoi ware is more suitable for daily use rather than for decorative purposes.
The Shiiba Kagura dance is a Shinto ritual handed down in Shiiba Village, Miyazaki Prefecture. It is designated as a National Important Folk Cultural Property.
The worship for mountains has been practiced in Shiiba Village since the times of slash-and-burn agriculture and hunting. The Shiiba Kagura dance has been handed down in 26 sub-villages today as the prayer to the mountain god. It is performed at a private house or a shrine all through the night on one of the days from the middle of November to the end of January. The styles of the dance including the number of dances performed at a time differ from village to village.
One thing that is distinctive to this area is that people put an importance on Shogyo (the words dedicated to the gods). Since many special words to be used for gods have been handed down and used in people’s everyday life in the villages of Shiiba, words play a significant role in the Kagura dance.
Mingei is an abbreviation of “minshu-teki kogei,” which menas “hand-crafted art of ordinary people.” The Mingei products are mostly ordinary and utilitarian objects. The word “Jomon” literally means “patterns of rope” and “Zogan” is a damascene technique. Mingei pottery Jomon Zogan is a style of pottery which involves using silk rope to make impressions in the wet clay and filling the patterns with white slips of clay, which creates clear contrast with the black color of the buisque.
Jomon Zogan style of pottery was created by Tatsuzo Shimaoka (1919-2007), a designated National Living Treasure. He studied pottery in Mashiko, where he became an apprentice of Shoji Hamada, one of mingei’s founding proponents. Based on the techniques in clay kneading and glazing he acquired in Mashiko and the unpretentious creative spirit of mingei, he developed his own pottery of Jomon Zogan. His sober but innovative style of pottery has been highly esteemed at home and abroad.
The word “chise” in the Ainu means “a house,” which could be seen in the Ainu Kotan (village). It was normally built in Yosemune-zukuri style（a square or rectangular building.）The building materials of an Ainu house varied according to geographical and climatic conditions. Bamboo leaves, wild grasses, thatch, reed grass and tree bark were used for roofs and walls, which were tied with grapevine or tree bark. The wood of chestnut, Japanese Judas tree and Amur maackia were used for supporting pillars, which were directly set up without foundation stones. A chise has three windows; the one in the back is a rorun-puyar (god’s window), through which the gods entered, the one on the right is for letting in light, and the one near the entrance is for cooking ventilation. The orientation of the houses in a kotan (village) is identical; in most of the cases, a house is oriented from east to west with the god’s window facing the east. A chise was 33 to 99 square meters in area. It was a warm and comfortable home of the Ainu in the old days.
Takaoka lacquerware originated about four centuries ago in Takaoka, Toyama Prefecture. Takaoka lacquerware crystallises the wisdom and skills of this craft and is closely linked to the history of this area.
Takaoka lacquerware was first made in the early Edo period, when the head of the Kaga Domain, Maeda Toshinaga, built Takaoka Castle and needed the locals to lacquer weapons and daily commodities for him, such as drawers and trays with legs.
The local craft further developed when techniques for coloring lacquer, known as 'tsuishu' and 'tsuikoku', were imported from China. Other features of this craft are lacquering techniques that use ground powders ('sabi-e'), beautiful stones or iridescent shells to decorate surfaces with scenery, figures and patterns.
In the mid-Meiji period, another technique was established. Known as 'chokoku-nuri', it builds up various colored lacquers to give a three-dimensional sculptural effect that elegantly recalls the Kamakura period.
The mastery and skill of this craft were recognised in 1975, when Takaoka lacquerware was designated as a National Traditional Handicraft.