NIPPON Kichi - 日本吉

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2007/1/24


間垣 Magaki Magaki

Jp En

Magaki are cane fences that rise higher than the tops of the eaves of houses, and which can be seen along Nishiho Shore in the town of Monzen, in Wajima, Ishikawa Prefecture.

Nishiho Shore has 80m-high cliffs and gigantic rocks and in winter is buffeted by strong winter monsoon winds blowing in from the Japan Sea. Magaki fences are built to protect the houses from these winds. The fences are built to a height of about 5m, using strong whangee canes (a kind of tall grass, often mistaken for bamboo) closely lined together. Magaki help to cool the houses in summer, while keeping them warm in winter. They reveal the wisdom of the Noto people in adapting to their natural environment.

In November, people start mending the magaki in preparation for the strong winter winds; it's a sign that autumn is ending and winter is coming.
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2006/12/17


大阪銅器 Osaka-douki Osaka Copper Ware

Jp En

Osaka copper ware is a prefecture’s designated Traditional Craft Product. Various items including tea utensil or cake bowls are made carefully by hand. This handicraft dates back to the 16th Century, when a smelting technology called “Nanbanshibori (cupellation),” which involves the extraction of gold and silver from crude copper, was introduced into Japan. At its peak, there were more than 10,000 workmen in Osaka district. In the Edo period, all the copper excavated from the mines was purchased by Doza (a government copper administration agency) in Osaka, and Osaka thrived as the center of copperware production. The traditional techniques in metal carving, molding, and forging are applied to the present production processes. The various items from Buddhist altar decorations to daily commodities are produced now. Osaka copperware is distinctive not only in its durability but in its design as well. The beautiful curved and folded lines are unique to copper boards, and the style is very solid and sober.
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肥前びーどろ Hizen-Bidoro Hizen Glass Ware

Jp En

Hizen Glass Ware or sometimes called Saga Glass Ware dates back to 1852, when Masanao Nabeshima, the domain lord of Nabeshima Province, built a finery to manufacture cannons on the Tafuse River, Saga City. At the finery, a glass kiln, which was very rare, was also built. Items such as beakers and flasks as well as table ware and lamps were made in those days. Hizen Glass Ware is made by the technique called “mouth-blown method,” in which a mold is not used but glass is made into shape by a workman blowing the air into the pipe. This traditional handicraft with a history of over 100 years is a city’s designated Important Intangible Cultural Heritage, which is still popular along with the nostalgic name of “Bidoro-fuki (glass blower).”
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2006/12/15


津軽びいどろ Tsugaru-biidoro Tsugaru Glass Ware

Jp En

This glassware, referred to as “Tsugaru Bidoro (vitrified glass)”, is a prefecture’s designated Traditional Craft Product. The technique used in this glasswork was originally that of making glass buoys for fishing in the area around Mutsu Bay. This glassware is made by “mouth-blown method,” which has been handed down for over 2100 years. The glass material is first fired at 1500 degrees, and then it is fired again at 1200 degrees to transform into glass. Next the red-hot glass is rolled up with a pipe and swollen by blowing the air into the pipe. After the glass begins to take shape, the craftsman adjusts it to the final form by swinging the pipe carefully. This is the moment when lively art is made out of inorganic substance of glass by the hand of a skilled craftsman. Its transparent refreshing color tones remind us of the ocean of Mutsu Bay. Tsugaru glass ware is not only beautiful but also practical. The main items vary from traditional incense burners and flower vases to daily necessities such as sake-cups or glasses, which are now very popular all over the country.
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尾崎人形 Ozaki-ningyo Ozaki Dolls

Jp En

Ozaki Dolls are pottery dolls handed down in Osaki Nishibun area in Kanzaki-machi, saga Pref. This craft is one of the oldest pottery works in the prefecture. It is characterized by the warm feeling of clay, the humorous look, and colorful paintings. Ozaki Dolls originates in the dolls that the Mongolian warriors captured during the Mongol Invasions of Japan (in 1281) made to blow tunes and remembered their faraway homeland. They taught the technique to the local people and since then the pottery in this district has developed. The locally obtained clay is molded into dolls and then holes are made in blowing types. After that they are dried for two weeks, fired in the handmade kilns, painted white first, and finally colored with bright iwaenogu (Japanese dry pigments). The bright red stands for the Mongolians’ blood, blue for peace, and yellow for nature. There are about 20 kinds of Ozaki Dolls including pigeon whistles, baby-sitter dolls, or sparrows. Among them a pigeon whistle, which is called “Tetteppu,” is the most popular souvenir.
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