Maruoka Castle, located in Maruoka town, Fukui pref, is the oldest standing castle with a remaining donjon. The castle, built with an old style stone wall that uses natural found stones, is rather small but has a simple beauty that remains unchanged to this day. The castle was built in 1576 by the order of Katsuie Shibata who was awarded the Echizen territory, now a part of Fukui pref., by Nobunaga Oda, who ruled a vast area of Japan in the Sengoku Period. The castle was built originally in Toyohara town, however, for more convenient road access, it was moved to Maruoka by Katsuie’s nephew, Katsutoyo. The castle employs a unique architectural method. It is three stories high with two layers of roof and there is a watch tower with handrails going around the donjon on the top story. The castle was roofed with Shakudani stone, a local stone, and has thick lattices and black wooden walls, which are unmistakable characteristics of the early style of castle making. The castle has lived through many war-torn periods of deadly strife and carnage. The castle is also known as Kasumiga Joh, Mist Castle, owing to a legend that, at a time of battle, a giant serpent appeared and blew mist over the castle and concealed it from attackers. In 1934, it was designated as a National Treasure. It was destroyed by an earthquake, then later reconstructed and was designated an Important National Property.
Kazuo Kawasaki was born in 1949, Fukui Prefecture. He is a design director and doctor of medical science. After graduating from Kanazawa College of Arts, he started working at Toshiba where he worked on developing and branding Audio Aurex, a revolutionary new audio system at that time. In 1979, he went freelance and two years later he moved his business base to his home town, Fukui. Since then, he has worked on a wide range of product designs including knives, LCD TVs, eyeglasses and artificial hearts. He has made significant advances in all of these fields.
He was the jury chair for the Japan Good Design Award from 2001 to 2003. He is currently a professor at Communication Design Center and Frontier Research Center at Graduate School of Engineering Osaka University. He is also a professor of Medical Center for Translational Research at Osaka University Hospital.
Mr. Kazuo believes that the designer is a professional that imbues idealism into a physical object. He incorporates many varied fields including mathematics, science, technology and art and builds reality hardheadedly and precisely.
Design is a dream. Here is at least one design director in Japan who earnestly believes that the power of design can change the world.
Takefu Knife Village is a brand created in 1982 by local curter artisans in Takefu, the biggest cutlery producing district that proudly maintains over seven hundred years of history.
In 1983 with the collaboration of Kazuo Kawasaki, a design director who was born and raised locally, Takefu launched its new series of kitchen knives, ARTUS.
While using the traditional method to create the blade part and by utilizing a unique design to unify from the tip of the blade to the handle, it achieved a simple yet innovative, hygienic and highly aesthetic product.
ATRUS is made by “fire casting”, a traditional craftsman’s striking technique, which uses a three-layer structure with steel forged by hand that is inserted between stainless steel. It is this technique that enables the knife to be sharp and resistant to rust.
ATRUS was born from a great trinity: the seven policies based on the Takefu’s commitment to create wonderful hand-made products; its traditional cutlery making method; and outstanding design by Kazuo Kawasaki. Its excellence is evident as even more than 20 years after its initial introduction it is still sold without any modifications.
Masunaga Optical Mfg Co., Ltd is the oldest eyeglass maker in Japan and located in Fukui City, Fukui Prefecture, one of the three biggest eyeglass frame producing districts in the world.
Masunaga Eyeglass was designed by Kazuo Kawasaki who was born and raised locally. The eyewear was awarded Silmo d’Or at the Silmo Eyeglass trade show held at Paris in 2000.
Without using screws and by applying lightweight and flexible beta titanium in its frame, Masunaga eyeglass has achieved a high level of comfort for the wearer. By attaching the lenses to the frames at only one point, it is designed so that the vision is not distorted when the arms are flexed at the temple points. The lenses and the pupils are always equidistant.
Masunaga eyeglass, born from a concept of “smart and high technology”, achieved functionality and nobleness realized by the combination of the Kazuo Kawasaki’s industrial design and Matsunaga’s superb techniques.
Carna was named after the Roman goddess who had power over entrances and exits and was considered a guardian angel of daily life.
Carna folding wheelchair, which was completed after eights years of prototyping, has a jaunty and stylish design giving it a feeling more like the newest pair of sneakers. With light weight titanium being utilized for the frame, the Carna can be folded down into a compact size. It is designed to be finely adjustable to fit different needs and body sizes. Above all, a user will be comfortable using the chair for extended periods of time. It can be said that this wheelchair becomes the legs of the user.
Carna folding wheelchair is the permanent collection of Museum of Modern Art (MoMA).
The Carna will become like a trusted guardian and it plays an important role to support the user’s everyday life, just as the word means.
・H86 x W61 x D90 cm
・9.5kg (seat 3kg)
Shizuka Shirakawa was a world-leading scholar of “kanji”, or Chinese characters.
Mr. Shirakawa was born in 1910 in Fukui Prefecture. He became fascinated with Kanji in his mid teens and subsequently worked voraciously to acquire more knowledge about the subject.
He published “Kanji”, a kanji dictionary in 1970, which established his unique viewpoint undermining commonly accepted theory in Kanji study.
Since then, he published “Shikyou”, “Kinbun no Sekai” and “Koushiden” all in which he introduced his original and innovative interpretation of Chinese philosophy and culture. “Jitou”, published in 1984, was a kanji etymology in which he studied the origin of letters. He pursued his unique approach to kanji study in which he found some magico-religious meaning in the composition of kanji. “Jitou” was followed by two more publications; “Jikun” and “Jitsuu”, all of which became highly influential as his trilogy on kanji studies.
In 1997, he was appointed the director at Institute of Letter and Culture. The following year, he was named as “Bunka Kourousha”, a recognition given to a person who has performed distinguished services in the field of culture.
In 2004, he received the Order of Cultural Merit, one of Japan’s highest honors. He passed away on October 30th, 2006, at the age of 96.
His insatiable quest in the universe of Kanji has influenced many scholars and his ideas are still being developed and advanced today.
Lantern Floating and the Great Fireworks Display are the features of a special event on 16 August on the Matsubara Coast in Matsushima-cho, Tsuruga, Fukui Prefecture.
These festivities began in 1950 (Showa 25) during the Bon Festival season of the lunar calendar, and were held to appease the spirits of those who had died in the war.
Various fireworks, such as water fireworks and 'star-mines' are set off against the scenic backdrop of Kehi-no-Matsubara. The Great Fireworks Display is the largest-class of fireworks display held along the Sea of Japan coast. 12,000 fireworks are set off in a dynamic show.
At the same time as the fireworks, 6,000 red, blue, and yellow lanterns are set afloat from the Matsubara Coast, while sutras are chanted by monks.
In recent years, lasers and sound systems have been added as massive settings and configurations to the festival. The pyrotechnics begin with bottle rockets and finish with special character fireworks and other elaborate fireworks.
Lantern Floating and the Great Fireworks Display create a harmony between water, light and sound. It is a solemn, even mystic, event.
Tojinbo is coastal area with spectacular scenery, most well known for its soaring cliff face. The harsh vertical rocks forming the cliff seem to be the result of a clash of strength between the sea god and the mountain god. Geologists deduce a volcano erupted about 1 million years ago and flowing magma formed pentagonal and hexagonal shaped pillar like crevices. The continually pounding waves of the Sea of Japan then carved the rock surface and, over time, produced cliffs towering as high as 25m. This astonishing scenery that continues for about 1km is geographically extremely valuable and has been designated as a National Scenic area and Monument. Tojinbo was named after a priest from Hiraizumi temple in Okuetsu, Fukui pref., who is said to have done many evil deeds throughout his life and, after a small dispute with another man, was thrown to his death from the cliff. When fierce winds and ferocious waves crash against the cliff, the soul of Tojinbo may also be heard howling.