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.
Flower Bird Painting is a general term for East Asian paintings featuring flowers, birds and insects. this category forms one of three major painting subjects, the others being figures and landscape ('mountain-water').
Flower Bird Painting became an established genre in the Tang Dynasty in China, and reached heights of excellence in the Northern Song Dynasty.
In the Heian period, ink painting was introduced to Japan and by the Edo period the art of Flower Bird Painting had spread among samurai as pictures painted on folding screens and sliding paper fusuma doors at temples, shrines and castles. After that, because of the principles of civilian government, they also became popular among commoners.
In China, realistic painting was popular but in Japan, flowers and birds of the four seasons were painted more abstractly, more like painted haiku poems.
Flower Bird Painting is very popular not only in Japan but in China, Korea and elsewhere in the world!
Karasuma Peninsula features an extensive community of lotuses, which spread across Kusatsu in Shiga Prefecture. Stretching out for as much as 9.3ha, there is nowhere else in Japan that has so many lotuses in one place.
Lotuses flower between the middle of July and the middle of August. The best time to appreciate them is early in the morning around 6 a.m. The scene of thousands of lotus flowers swaying above the leaves is simply mesmerizing and takes viewers into a timeless bewitching world.
Alongside the lotus area is an aquatic botanical garden established by Kusatsu town and called Mizu-no-mori (Water Forest), with over 200 species of plants. The garden includes all sorts of lotuses and water lilies, and has a greenhouse (where many Southern garden plants and seeds are cultivated), as well as a small theater, which screens films and picture shows of lotus gardens and all kinds of lotuses.
During the lotus-flowering season, the garden opens earlier than usual at 7 to allow the people who have come to enjoy the lotuses to be able to relax afterwards.
The lotuses of Karasuma Peninsula make a charming and captivating spectacle, harmonizing perfectly with the scenery of nearby Lake Biwako.
Hiroshi Kibe is a craftsman of Edo karakami, and was born in 1931 in Asakusabashi, Tokyo.
'Karakami' means Chinese paper; 'kara' is the old Japanese name for China and 'kami' means paper. In the mid-Heian period, people started to make paper using Chinese methods. By the Edo period, Edo karakami was a well-established paper craft which used used many decorative techniques, such as stencilling, stripe-printing and dusting with powder dyes.
In 1950, Hiroshi succeeded to his father's business, and became involved in karakami printing. His karakami of colorful birds or people in 'sarasa' patterns are especially beautiful and are used for sliding doors.
Hiroshi says, 'No one will be either a master or a failure at this work. The important things are to work carefully and to think of who will be using the final product. Sliding doors involve completing a set of several doors, so I make efforts to ensure that each door is finished in the same way and is tasteful.'
Hiroshi was designated as a Tokyo Traditional Craftsman. In 1997, he was also designated as a Traditional Craftsman of Katsushika-ku.
Saga Nishiki is a traditional hand-woven fabric made in Saga Pref.. For Saga Nishiki, Japanese paper coated with gold, silver or lacquer and cut into strips is used as the warp, and dyed silk thread is passed through the paper strips. Various traditional patterns such as Ajiro (bamboo), Saya (Buddhist cross), and Hishi (diamond) are woven out. The origin of this craft dates back to the early Edo period (about 190 years ago), when a widow of the domain lord of Nabeshima Clan in Hizen-Kashima was inspired to make a woven fabric when she saw a bamboo ceiling. The technique was improved as time went on, and the design and expression has been widened. At present the intricate figures such as the natural flowers, birds, and scenery are woven out in addition to the original twilled fabric. Since the exquisite techniques are required and only a small piece can be woven each day, these fabrics are mainly manufactured into small items like handbags. This gorgeous and elegant fabric is highly evaluated as a work of art and called “the ultimate” of the traditional handicraft in Japan.
Kirigo peony is designated as a protected species by Saga Prefecture. It grows in “Botan to Midori no Oka (peony garden)” in Hizen-cho, Karatsu City. On first glance it looks as if dozens of peonies bloom together, but actually a multitude of branches are growing out of only one stock. You will be stuck with wonder to see it. Legend has it that about 400 years ago Kensuke Ide, a vassal of the local feudal lord, Hata Mikawanokami, who had been lost by Hideyoshi Toyotomi, found a peony blooming brightly in the castle ruin. He brought it back to Kirigo village and grew it with care. This stock of peony had been grown carefully by the hand of Ide family from generation to generation. It still produces as many as 500 blossoms. It is at its best in December, when you can enjoy seeing the same beautiful blossoms that the feudal lord must have enjoyed in his castle garden.