Saie-Hiogi is a crescent folding fan with blades made of Japanese cypress wood. Hiogi fans were made in the Heian period (794-1192) as the accessory used by the nobility on formal occasions in the Imperial court. The number of blades differed according to the rank of the person who carried the fan. At the present time, there are only seven Hiogi fans remain; one at Atsuta Jingu Shrine, five at Itsukushima Shrine and one at Asuka Shrine in Kumano.
Gofun (powder made from oyster shells) solution is applied as the base coat onto slats of cypress wood threaded with silk. Then after applying mica, pieces of gold and silver leaf and foil are sprinkled on the surface, where colorful pictures are painted with Iwaenogu (mineral pigment).
The motifs of Kachofugetsu (flowers, birds, wind, and moon), noblemen and court ladies are painted in well-mellowed brush strokes. Saie-Hiogi fan was not only an implement but also a work of art that was like a picture scroll. The existing Saie-Hiogi fans are designated as either National Important Cultural Properties or National Treasures.
Wahon, or Wasohon, is a book bound in a traditional Japanese bookbinding style. In the old days, school textbooks were also bound in the Watoji style. Even today, Watoji is used for some books on religion including sutras, culture, art and hobbies.
Watoji techniques were developed from the techniques used for rolled books and fold books in China. There are several kinds of Watoji, which includes Yamatotoji (used for paper printed on both sides), Yotsumetoji (bound four times), Asanohatoji (decorated with hemp-leaf patterns), Kikkotoji (decorated with hexagonal patterns) and Kokitoji (the Kangxi Emperor style). The most commonly used style is Yotsumetoji.
Watoji developed mainly in Kyoto, which had been Japan’s economical, cultural and religious center for a long time. The tradition of using Watoji together with warm-felt Washi paper and gorgeous Kinrandonsu (Woven decorated silk) covers has been handed down in this ancient capital.
Choju Giga (Caricature Painting of Birds and Beasts) is a scroll painting in Toganosan Kozanji Temple in Arashiyama, Kyoto.
The official name of the scroll is 'Bird Beast Human Scroll'. It consists of four volumes and is designated a National Treasure.
From the end of the Heian period to the early Kamakura period, a monk of the Tendai Buddhist sect, Toba-soju-kakuyu is supposed to have painted the scroll, but many people believe it to be executed by several painters.
In the caricature, animals are depicted as humanlike; rabbits, monkeys, frogs, cattle, dogs, giraffes and so on. The scroll is an ironic description of the world at that time. but some parts of the scroll have been lost or are hard to understand.
The depiction of animals as humanlike and drawn with an emphasis on quickly-painted line to suggest movement is said to be the origin of comic drawing and animation in Japan today.
Butsugenji Temple located in Monomigaoka, Ito City, Shizuoka Pref. is one of Nichiren-shu Reiseki Honzan (the temples where Nichiren himself conducted an important deed). The temple was given its name by Nichiren, who was exiled to Izu in 1261 and spent three years at this temple. The principal image is Kuon no Honshi Shakamunibutsu (Eternal Buddha, Shakamuni). The temple is formally named Kaiko-zan (literally meaning “Sea Light Mountain”) Genbutsuji (Emergence of Buddha) Temple, which comes from the episode that Ito Hachirozaemon, the Jito (the local manor manager) of this area presented Nichiren with the standing statue of Buddha, which he had brought up from the sea. Butsugenji Temple is counted as one of Ito Shichifukujin (the Seven Deities in Ito), where Bishamonten (the god of war and warriors), who brings good luck, purification of the evil, and luck with money, is worshipped. The temple also owns a mysterious scroll called “Tengu no Wabi-shomon (the apologetic letter from a Tengu),” which has been indecipherable until now. This is a historic temple with a lot of legendary stories.
Yoshino handmade Japanese paper (washi) is a traditional handicraft, and representative of Nara. It is sometimes called uda paper, misu paper or kuzu paper, and is known for its outstanding texture and strength. It is also designated as a traditional handicraft of Nara.
The history of washi dates back more than 1300 years and is said to have been begun by Oamano-oji (later Emperor Temmu) who taught the village people of Kuzu the art of papermaking. Oamano-oji is also known for gathering an army and fighting at Yoshino during the Jinshin rebellion in 672.
Yoshino paper began to spread nationwide in the Edo period. The paper was named uda paper because merchants from Daiwa Uda-cho sold it throughout Japan, and it was found useful for mounting or backing paper or fabric.
The handmade paper of Yoshino is very thin, yet sturdy. There are currently 12 families who still protect the tradition and techniques of papermaking here, and who make an important contribution to the making of paper for shodo sliding doors and for repairing national treasures.
Okayama Korakuen is one of Japan's three major gardens, as well as a National Special Place of Scenic Beauty. It is located in Okayama city, Okayama prefecture.
The 2nd Okayama domain head, Ikeda Tsunamasa, ordered his chief retainer, Tsuda Nagatada, to build the garden. The garden has not changed much since that time.
The center of the garden is Enyo-tei, where the domain head entertained guests. Okayama Castle and the circumjacent mountains form a backdrop to the garden scenery. Grass, ponds, miniature hills and trees are disposed around the vast grounds which are some 130,000m2 in area.
As you walk along the garden paths, the scenery unfolds before you just like a picture scroll.
This Iga-style Ninja Museum is located in Ueno, Iga City, Mie prefecture. Ninja is a kind of samurai warrior who engaged in espionage activities. Ninja House in the museum originally belonged to the local ruling family in Iga and was renovated and moved.
In Iga, people manufactured secret elixirs using medicinal herbs there, or they dispensed gunpowder. Thieves often broke in to steal the scrolls with the secrets of their production methods.
To deter intruders, many tricks were set up everywhere in the house so that it took longer for thieves to find the scrolls or escape. These tricks explain why the house is called Ninja House. The appearance of the house is like a typical thatched farmer's dwelling.
A visit to the house these days, includes demonstrations by Ninja actors who show the house's secret devices, like fake walls, trick doors and hiding places. Visitors to Iga Ninja House can experience the atmosphere of a former warlike period.
Hyogu (picture frames/hangers) are commonly used for Buddhist objects in temples and also for scroll pictures hung in the 'tokonoma' recess in Japanese rooms.
Hyogu have a history of 1200 years, during which time the techniques of making them became increasingly refined. Today, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry has designated Kyo-hyogu as a traditional handicraft of Japan.
The history of mounting pictures to frames goes back to the Heian period, when picture scrolls from China arrived with the Buddhist faith. Those pictures that came from China were framed in Japan. Later, it became common to mount the pictures with cloth and paper to make them up as scroll pictures, 'byobu' screens, 'tsuitate' walls and 'fusuma' sliding doors for preservation and appreciation.
Nowadays, the techniques of framing/mounting are used in various ways. In practical areas of our everyday lives, they are used as 'fusuma' sliding doors and wall decorations. They are also used in arts and crafts, as scroll pictures, frame decorations, 'byobu' screens, picture albums and scrolls. The techniques may also be used in restoration, which requires high levels of technique and experience. Each area demands unique expertise.