NIPPON Kichi - 日本吉

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2007/6/1


鬼岩公園 Oniiwa-kouen Oniiwa Park

Jp En

Oniiwa Park is a scenic spot in Hida-Kisogawa Quasi-National Park. It is located along the mountain stream flowing into Lake Matsuno, which is near the headstream of the Kako River. There are a lot of strange-shaped granite rocks towering along the gorge. Each rock is named according to its shape such as Usu-iwa (Mill Rock), Taro-iwa, Hasami-iwa (Scissor Rock), Byobu-iwa (Folding Screen Rock) and Gyoja-iwa (Mountain Practitioner Rock). There are three routes to walk through the park, which include “Iwato-kuguri Course,” where visitors can enjoy going through an 80-meter-long and narrow tunnel.

The name “Oni-iwa (Ogre’s Rock)” is derived from the legend that once upon a time there lived an ogre named Seki no Taro. In the park is the cave, which is believed to have been his dwelling. At the Bean-scattering Ceremony on Setsubun (February 3) held in this park, the throwers chant “Demons in! Luck in!” in stead of chanting “Demons out! Luck in!”

The granite rocks that have been eroded for tens of millions of years give fine contrast to the deep forest, where visitors can enjoy various seasonal changes including cherry blossoms in spring, fresh green in summer and crimson foliage in fall.
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2007/2/15


飴細工 Ame-zaiku Candy Craft

Jp En

Candy craft in Japan involves the processing of sweet and water candy into various colors or shapes.
  
The history of candy making in Japan is very long and one theory is that a craftsman in China dedicated his candy to Toji Temple in the Heian period. Another theory has it that a pipe craftsman made the candy in order to draw customers' attention.
  
Candy craft is not only made in Japan, but in Southeast Asia and Europe, too. There are many kinds from those sold in stalls to those used to decorate cakes.
  
In Japan, candy craft is supposed to be made by craftsmen at stalls or at fairs. Water candy is warmed, mixed with three food colorings, and shaped with scissors and brushes.
  
Candy has to be processed in one minute before it turns cold, and this requires great skill.
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2006/12/18


握り鋏 Nigiri-basami Nigiri-basami Japanese style scissors

Jp En

There are generally two types of scissors used in Japan; western and Japanese style called nigiri-basami. Western style scissors are mostly used for everyday situations, while nigiri-basami is superior for use during needle work. They do not have a hinge like western scissors and have open blades, so cutting a thread can be done simply in one move. Their sharp edges are suitable for detailed work, another reason they are often used in sewing.

Ubukeya is an edged tool specialty store founded in Edo period with 220 years of history. Ubukeya literally means downy hair store and was named to indicate the store selling knives and razors that can shave even the finest hair, tweezers to pick delicate hair, and scissors to cut the softest hair. Not to mention unique tweezers that were loved by stylish local folks in Edo city, nigiri-basami is highly regarded and the store has customers that have continued to patronize the store for many generations.

Nigiri-basami uses steel fashioned by hammering and is totally different from mass produced items. They are very ergonomic and, with little force, cut through a thread. Plus, the cutting blade retains its sharpness due to being manufactured from fine steel.
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2006/12/15


将棋遊び Shougi-asobi Shogi Game

Jp En

Shogi is a Japanese chess game using a board and 40 pieces. In the formal type of the game called Hon-Shogi, the game is played between two players of Sente (the first player) and Gote (the opponent player). The two players alternate taking turns and the game is won when a king is captured. The pieces are divided into eight kinds, each of which is moved or captured according to the rule defined to each piece. The appeal of Shogi lies in the process of running the king to ground by capturing the opponent pieces and using it as the friendly pieces or promoting the pieces to add them different movement. Other than Hon-Shogi, there are some variants such as Hasami-Shogi (sandwiching shogi), in which the game is won when the agreed number of pieces are captured, or Mawari-Shogi for children, in which players cast four king pieces move according to how the piece fall.
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2006/12/11


越前打刃物 Echizen-uchi-hamono Echizen forged blades

Jp En

Echizen forged blades, one of the traditional handicrafts of Echizen City,
Fukui Pref., has its own distinctive sharpness produced through 700 years of
its history, where craftsmen have competed in refining their skills. The
history dates back to the Nanbokucho period (1336−1392), when a swordsmith
from Kyoto came to this area. This swordsmith, Chiyotsuru Kuniyasu visited
Fuchu (present Takeo City, Fukui Pref.) in search of a suitable place for
sword-making. He also made grain sickles for the local farmers and this
evolved into forging in the area. Since then Takeo is a big producing area
of edged farming tools, which were spread throughout the country by peddlers
unique to Hokuriku region. Using aged-old Japanese forging skills before
being finished by hand, kitchen knives, sickles and trimmers are now
produced. Echizen forged blades were awarded the nationally recognized
Traditional Craft Product in 1980, as daily commodities combined with
accomplished skills and artistic sensitivity.
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2006/11/29


菊和弘 Kiku Kazuhiro Kiku Kazuhiro Forged Blades

Jp En

Kiku Kazuhiro Sohizukuri Forged Blades are kitchen knives and pinking shears hand forged by the Ogawara brothers. Their products are designated as Traditional Craft Products of Tokyo Metropolis. Sohizukuri is a hand forging technique where the iron bar is softened by heating at 1,000℃ and hammered out into the shape of the blade. This technique was originally used for making a sword in the Edo period and was handed down to the craftsmen at Kazuhiro Forged Blades. Take pinking shears for example, the handles and the blades are not welded but hammered out of an iron bar into the shape of the shear as a single-piece. They are light in weight and comfortable to use. The craftsmen’s caring for details can be seen in their selection of the materials. As for the steel materials, they use the best steel of the country, blue paper labeled Hitachi Yasuki Special Steel, and the coal made of pine wood for firing. They also take part in various activities for training of successors, hoping that this traditional technique of Sohizukuri will be continuously handed down.
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