Hidetaka kakefuda is the third line of the Kyoto Kakefuda, a dye house which specializes in made to order “Furoshiki”, wrapping cloth. Mr. Kakefuda was born in 1977 in Kyoto. He entered Kyoto City University of Arts in 1996, majoring initially in Sculpture, later changing to Conceptual and Media Art. He started helping the family business while still a university student. After seeing the family crest book handed down in his family, he took a strong interest in traditional patterns and succeeded to the family business upon his graduation.
In 2004, Mr. Kakefuda undertook the design and production of the cotton furoshiki to be used as a complementary gift for the name-taking ceremony of Nakamura Kanzaburo XVIII. With this as a beginning, the following year he announced his new line of cotton furoshiki with Japanese traditional patterns such as Karakusa and Kamekou. “I wanted create furoshiki that everybody can use casually as a start”, Mr. Kakufuda says in a relaxed tone. Since 2005, he continues to produce new types of furoshiki based on Japanese traditional patterns, a style sometimes referred to as “Japanese Modern”.
Nishi-Iya Kazurabashi (Vine Bridge) is located at Zentoku, Nishi-Iya village, Miyoshi, Tokushima Prefecture. It is one of the three major 'strange' bridges in Japan. The bridge is a primitive suspension type using vines like 'shirakuchi' vines.
The origin of this bridge is uncertain: one story has it that the famous priest Kukai (Kobo Taishi) built it to help villagers cross the ravine; another story has it that an easygoing member of the Taira clan constructed the bridge with vines so that they could be cut immediately if an enemy was in pursuit.
The ravine of the Niya river is so deep that it was very difficult to cross between banks. The villagers most likely made this bridge after trying many ideas.
Now, Nishi-Iya Vine Bridge is 45m in length, 2m in width, and suspended 14m above the ravine. It has been designated an National Important Tangible Folkloric Property.
Crossing the bridge is a thrilling experience; even if a single person crosses the bridge, it shakes, while the crossing is simply made of rough logs. The ‘Iya Mill Song’ is a well-known song that describes the bridge.
Sendai Tanabata Festival is one of Tohoku's four major festivals, which include Aomori Nebuta, Akita Kanto and Amagata Hanagasa festivals.
Sendai Tanabata Festival is not a traditional local festival because it has taken place in various places since the Edo period. It is said that it the festival was beloved by the clan patriarch, Date Masamune.
Following the adoption of the Western calendar in the Meiji period, the festival diminished year by year. But in 1927, volunteer merchants revived it to shake off the economic recession at that time. It is said that children who saw the spectacle, applauded for a long time after it. Sendai Tanabata Festival deteriorated during the war in the early 20th century and did not take its present shape until after 1926.
A traditional craftwork and hand made paper; Sekishu-washi is still made on the western side of Ishimi, in Shimane Prefecture. It is said that this paper dates back 1,300 years. The materials are paper mulberry and the basts of certain plants. Merchants from Osaka used to favor Sekishu Japanese writing paper for account ledgers. For a merchant, the account ledger is the second most valuable thing after life, and when they encountered a fire disaster, they threw the ledger into the well to prevent it from getting burnt. It is also said that the Sekishu Japanese writing paper was made supple yet tough, therefore the merchants never lost the customer information. There are over 10 steps to making Sekishu-washi, from the procurement of material, the processing to the paper straining. All of the work is done by hand, and sophisticated skill is necessary to be a craftsman. It is designated as an Important Intangible Cultural Property.
he collection of villages comprising Gasshou-zukuri farmhouses located in Shirakawago of Gifu pref. and Gokakuyama of Toyama pref. was designated as a World Cultural and Heritage Site in 1996. Shirakawago is generally referred to as a village at Ogimachi in Shirakawa region. Most of the farmhouses were built between the late Edo Period and early Meiji Period.
Gasshou-Zukuri, or Gasshou-style, is made by laying timbers on beams to form a high mountain like shape and are characterized by a steep thatched roof. Its tall triangular roof is designed to displace heavy snow. The houses are built aligned in a north south direction so that they can minimize the wind’s effect and also receive plenty of sunlight; it is an effective system to keep the house cool in the summer and warm in winter.
Bruno Taut, a German architect, described the design in his book as “It is considerably logical and rational, and architecture designed for the common people which is rare in Japan”. This helped introduce Shirakawago to the world.
The view looking out over hundreds of Gasshou-Zukuri houses is full of serenity and may bring back fond memories of the landscape of your childhood home town.
It is said that brushes specially made for urushi work have been first used in around 12th Century for lacquering Buddhist images and altar fittings. Since then urushi brushes became indispensable tools for urushi lacquer ware all over Japan. In urushi lacquering, urushi must be applied evenly without surface irregularity. Therefore elaborate and taxing handwork is required for the making of urushi brushes. The bristles are usually made of human hair because it contains little oily substance that has the worst effect on urushi and it has little damages caused by chemicals. The best material for bristles is Japanese woman’s hair that is air-dried for appropriate time. The best selected human hair is impasted with noriurushi (a mixture of lacquer and rice paste), then set between a uniform pair of hinoki (Japanese cypress) boards, fastened together, and finally trimmed with a planer. Urushi lacquerers usually use their brushes for more than 20 years, during which when the brush top gets worn out, they trim it to adjust the shape again and again. Brush making methods vary according to the way lacquer is applied. Urushi brush making requires long experience and expert skills.
Nambu Diamond Embroidery is the needlework handed down in Nambu district centered around the present Hachinohe City, Aomori Pref. This craft dates back to 200 years ago, when the farmers were only allowed to wear clothes made of hemp or ramie, and cotton must be used only as thread. The women in the farming villages then contrived the way to reinforce the fabric and retain heat by stitching cotton thread into the hemp cloth. The skill has been handed down up to the present and become traditional crafts. It is characterized by various kinds of beautiful diamond patterns. There are collectors who have collected Nambu Diamond Embroidery works made in the Meiji, Taisho, and Showa periods. Currently it is not only popular among handicraft lovers but also among known to ordinary consumers all over the country.
Echizen Japanese candle is a traditional handicraft of Echizen City,
specified as the folk craft product by Fukui Pref.. Most of its
making process is done by craftsmen’s manual fashion. This candle was first
made in the Edo period (1603−1867) and has come a long way as an essential
item to Buddhism services. As a wedding ceremony is called “a ceremony of
brilliant candles” in Japanese, the candles have been indispensable for
Japanese ceremonies. Since Echizen district has been known for religious
devotion, Echizen candles also have been refined along with its history. The
candle body is made from wax-tree, and the core from Japanese paper
specially made for the candle. The cross section of the candle looks like
tree rings. Echizen candle is characterized by its constantly changing flame
shape, for oxygen is constantly supplied through the center core. Shimmering
flames are hard to be blown off and emit little lampblack. Its unique shape
and red color can fit in every space and brightly enwrap its surrounding. In
modern times it is mainly used for Buddhist altars, but may also be good for
parties or interior decoration.