NIPPON Kichi - 日本吉

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2007/12/14


ベンガラ Bengara Bengara

Jp En

Bengara is inorganic red pigment whose main ingredient is iron oxide, Fe2O3, and it is the oldest coloring agent known to mankind.
Bengara is written弁柄, in some cases紅殻, in Kanji and is also known as Indian Red and Venetian Red.
Bengara was thought to be introduced from China, via the Korean peninsula, into Okinawa. The name Bengara was believed to have been derived from Bengal, the Indian province that most of the iron oxide came from.
Bengara’s ingredient, iron oxide Fe2O3, was produced naturally more than any other iron oxide based coloring agents. However because its mineral composition is very similar to that of red rust from iron, nowadays artificially composed dyes have become more common than naturally produced ones.  Nariwa-cho, Takahashi, Okayama Prefecture, is the only remaining place in Japan that still produces Bengara naturally.
In ancient time, Bengara was rare and much treasured as a noble color. Shuri Castle in Okinawa is known to have Bengara red color. Because Bengara was superior for coloring and sealing as well as resistant to heat and water, it was applied to wooden buildings to prevent aging damage.
The color of Bengara might lack certain brightness more common in other red based pigments, but its flamboyance today still keeps holding people’s affection.
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2007/9/5


紅型 Bin-gata Bingata

Jp En

Bingata is an Okinawan traditional paste resist dyeing technique. It was created in the 16th century as a dying process for the clothing of the royalty and the nobles of the Ryukyu Kingdom. Because of this, most of the dye-shops at the time were located around Shuri Castle and protected by the government. Although the word “bin-gata” literally means “red patterns” in Japanese, Bingata is generally multi-colored cloth dyed with various patterned stencil papers.

There are actually two methods of doing Bingata dyeing; “stencil dying” and “cylinder drawing.” In stencil dyeing, the boundaries of the patterns are set with the application of rice-paste resist through a stencil. In cylinder drawing, patterns are hand-drawn through what looks to be a pastry tube.

The bright colors produced by these careful hand processes fascinated the royalty and the nobility of the time. Especially the yellow color created by fukugi (Garcinia subelliptica) was allowed to be used only for the loyal family.

Today, Bingata resist dyed cloth is used not only for clothing but also for many other items such as bags and tapestries, all of which feature an exotic atmosphere of a southern land. Together with Yuzen dyeing, it is one of Japan’s representing dyeing techniques now.
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2007/1/11


琉球王朝絵巻行列 Ryuukyuu-ouchou-emaki-gyouretu The Ryukyu Kingdom Royal Procession

Jp En

The Ryukyu Kingdom Royal Procession is the main feature of the Shurijo castle festival, a major prefectural event held in the city of Naha. The procession re-enacts the arrival at Ryukyu of various emissaries from the Imperial Chinese court.

1,300 people participate in the event, including the people playing the roles of the Ryukyu king and queen and the Ming and Qing emissaries, plus the troupes of traditional performing actors dressed in elegant costumes playing 'rujigaku' and other classical music genres. They parade gravely along Kokusai-dori, the central thoroughfare of Naha city.

To increase the liveliness of the event, the parade includes many entertainers. All participants are chosen from the public. During the festival, traditional performing arts are presented at the stage inside the castle of Shurijo.

The Ryukyu Kingdom Royal Procession is a gorgeous and spectacular parade. It is a festival of history and fantasy that makes you feel as if you had slipped into the times of the Ryukyu kingdom.
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