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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2007/1/19


三十間長屋 Sanjikken-nagaya The Sanjikken-Nagaya (30-Ken Warehouse)

Jp En

Inside Kanazawa Castle grounds near the old castle keep are the remains of a 'sanjikken-nagaya' warehouse. This two-storey building is 65m long and 5.5m wide, and was originally built for military purposes. It is said that it had been first used for storing rice, then for storing muskets.

The building is a single structure with the entrance on the south side. The roof is made of lead tiles and the hips of the white-washed walls are decorated with 'sea cucumber' tiles. Across the hip of the wall of the second storey lies a keel of lead tiles.

It is said that there were once 14 warehouses in all inside the grounds of Kanazawa Castle including the one above, so it can be imagined that the view at the time would have been grand.

The single surviving sanjikken-nagaya was rebuilt in Annsei 5 (1858), leaving it and the Ishikawa Gate the only original remains in existence in the castle grounds. The Sanjikken-nagaya was designated as an Important National Cultural Asset in Showa 32.
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2007/1/6


出雲大社 Izumoooyashiro Izumo Shrine

Jp En

The main deity at Izumo Shrine in Shimane Prefecture, is known as the god of luck, peace, relationships, agriculture andmedicine. Within the grounds of the shrine, are structures built in the ‘shinkoden’ style, which means ‘luck from god’. They are two-storied and include the treasure hall, which exhibits treasures that prove the development of the Izumo Shrine. The main building, which is designated as a national treasure, is now 24m high, yet it is said that it was once twice the height, at 48m. Excavation in progress has proved this, with the discovery of a  gigantic column on the site. On March 19,  2007, the Shimane Museum of Ancient Izumo opened just beside the shrine and exhibits the original column of the main sanctuary. About 600,000 people visit the shrine during the first three days of the New Year
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