NIPPON Kichi - 日本吉

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2007/10/15


【美】 Bi The Character for Beauty

Jp En

The character 羊 shows the form of a 'sheep.' It can often be seen as an element in Kanji. The reason for this is that in antiquity sheep were often used in rites. 'Sheep' stands out among Kanji with abstract meanings like 善 'good,' 美 'beauty,' and 義 'justice.' The character 'bi' 美 ('beauty') shows the whole body of a sheep. While 羊 shows the upper part of a sheep including the horns, in 美, its lower body including the hind legs are added. A person who possessed sheep was already considerably wealthy.

In the world of polytheism one tries to receive the favor of gods by beautiful and precious offerings. It was believed that offering a dog to the highest god was most effective. Offers to receive godly favor became especially important at the time of trials. As trials took the form of an ordeal by the gods, both parties submitted a sheep to be variously tested by the gods.

The origin of Shirakawa Kanji science follows the idea that characters were formed and developed as a means of communication between gods and man. From this standpoint, beauty has to be acceptable to the gods, or warranted by the gods. Interestingly, the Biblical idea of offering a sheep to God can also be found in Gospel St John 1, 29 and I Corinthians 1, 7.
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2007/1/30


奈良筆 Nara-fude Nara Brushes

Jp En

Nara calligraphy brushes are highly evaluated by calligraphers and specialists. The master skills and techniques with a long history and tradition have been handed down in the brush making in Nara. The origin of brush making here is dated back to about 1,200 years ago, when the monk Kukai, who had journeyed to China and studied about brush making, returned to Japan and passed on his skills to the people living in Yamato Province (presently Nara Pref.). The most sensitive part in brush making is said to be the selection of the material hair. Considering the overall conditions of a brush he is making, a craftsman selects the most suitable material out of more than 10 kinds of animal hairs including sheep’s wool, and the hair of horses or deer. The quality of hair differs according to a habitat, the time of capture, and the part of the body from which hair is taken. Craftsmen select and combine the hairs to create a brush that is best suited for the user’s taste, exerting his full experience and efforts. Every step in the making process is done by hand. Here in the making of Nara brushes, a machine has no role to play even today.
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2007/1/6


松江筆 Matsue-fude Matsue Brushes

Jp En

Matsue brushes are a speciality of Matsue in Shimane Prefecture, and are also designated as a Traditional Hometown Handicraft. The history of these brushes goes back 400 years, when the brush-making skills of the Old Imperial Palace of Kyoto were adopted in the Edo period (1686). Matsue brushes use various hairs depending on what kind of brush is being made, of which there are over 56 . Sheep, raccoon, or mink hair may be used, and with each, the elasticity and adhesion changes accordingly. The brushes are completed in 10 steps. The botan (peony) style brush, with the tip dyed red and green, is one of the most popular. From normal to special, many brushes are made according to their use, ranging from painting, calligraphy to haiku poetry, or for the occasion, such as the celebration of the birth of a child, where the brush is made from the hair of the newborn baby. Orders can be taken starting from just one brush. Each Matsue brush is made delicately by hand and for ease of use. .
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