NIPPON Kichi - 日本吉

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加賀獅子頭 Kaga-shishigashira Kaga Lion Head

Jp En

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.
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奈良一刀彫 Nara-ittou-bori Nara Ittobori Dolls

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Nara Ittobori Dolls, otherwise known as Nara Dolls, are traditional handicraft products in Nara Pref. A block of Japanese cypress, Japanese Judas tree, or camphor tree is dynamically carved into a shape of a doll with a chisel, onto which colorful painting is applied with leaf gold and iwa-enogu (stone pigment). These elegant dolls are made in the motif of Noh play, Maigaku (Japanese traditional dancing), deer, Oriental zodiac, or Hina Dolls. The origin of Nara Ittobori Dolls is said to have been the Noh-gaku dolls that were dedicated to the ceremonies held at Kasuga Taisha Shrine in the late Heian period (around the 12th Century). The original dolls were very simple in shape because they were used for sacred ceremonies and the least human manipulation was required. However, their gorgeous coloration, which is the most distinctive characteristic of Nara dolls, was already seen in the original forms. Later in the late Edo period, Nara dolls were enhanced to the level of art by Toen Morikawa. In 1893, the dolls were exhibited at Chicago World Exposition and gained high plaudit. The dynamic and powerful shapes and the delicate and elaborate colors are well harmonized in Nara Dolls. These elegant court dolls are still loved by a lot of people.
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