Chrysanthemum and Maple Leaf Festival is held at Hirosaki Botanical Garden in Hirosaki Park from the middle of October through the early November every year. It is counted as one of the four largest festivals in Hirosaki City, Aomori Prefecture. The festival originates in a chrysanthemum contest held by local chrysanthemum fancier group, who enjoyed appreciating the flowers grown by each member while viewing beautiful autumn leaves.
The highlight of the festival is the display of life-sized chrysanthemum dolls, which represent the famous scenes of the dramas including the NHK’s Taiga Drama of the year. Other objects such as Mt. Iwaki and the five-story pagoda made of chrysanthemum flowers are exhibited. Together with Japanese maple trees ablaze with red and yellow leaves, chrysanthemum flowers raised with loving care add gorgeous colors to the ruins of Hirosaki Castle.
The works of topiary, which is the art of ornamental gardening, are also displayed. The branches and leaves of chrysanthemum are trimmed into fantastic geometric shapes or animals.
This geometric table with lacquer-coated carving was originally created as a display piece for the Milano Salone. Craftsmen were not used to working on the unusual patterns and size of a table such as this. In general, pictures were on the lacquer coated cravings, not geometrical designs. Some voices even exclaimed, “This project might be better done by machines!”. On the other hand, with a machine, there would be risks of pigments spreading into the grooves of the carving, during the lacquer coating.However, the craftsmen’s pride motivated them to create this table. When the table was completed, it gave a rich impression that could not have been machine-made. ‘It was difficult, though I had this chance to encounter a completely different set of values. This gave me a new idea in spatial craft making”, one craftsman commented with pleasure after completing the table. As a result, this table is a unique fusion of design and craft.A new state appears in which the environment is arranged to make design and craft combine and function together.
Table “Tenhan”・Lacquer-coated carving・ SizeW×D×H (mm) 800×800×25 (not including the leg)・ Designed byIntenionallies
Koishiwara Ware is a pottery made in Koishiwara Village, Asakura-gun, Fukuoka Pref. It is a traditional handicraft with a history of 400 years. The kiln set up by the feudal lord of Kuroda Province in 1682 during the early Edo period was the first kiln in Chikuzen area (present northern Kyushu). It was originally called Nakano Ware and large porcelain urns, jars, and sake flasks were mainly made. In the middle of the 18th century, pottery began to be made under the name of Koishiwara Ware. It is characterized by a number of geometric patterns applied by unique techniques such as chattering (a curved metal tool is allowed to jump and cut into the surface), the application of a brush mark pattern, and combing. In many cases, biscuit firing is not given and the glaze is poured onto the main surface of the piece to produce a variety of random effects. Koishiwara Village used to be a small and quiet pottery village, but since the late Showa 30s Koishiwara Ware, taking advantage of the pottery boom, has attained national eminence. There are as many as 50 kilns in the village now, the oldest of which has a history of 300 years.
Komin Osawa was born in 1941, in the district of Takaoka, famous for its copper-utensil industry. In 2005, his 'chukin' work was designated as an important intangible cultural heritage.
Chukin is a goldsmith technique that encompasses metal-fusing, mold-injection and casting. The craft dates back to the Yayoi period. It includes various casting methods such as, 'sogata, 'rogata, 'sunagata' and 'yakigata'. With the yakigata method, large work such as statues could be manufactured. Yet experience and mastery of the technique are necessary in all processes of the work.
Through the yakigata method, Osawa discovered his original 'igurumi' method to achieve his own aesthetic effects. Moreover, he also experiments with the beauty of geometry.
It is common for Osawa to work until midnight, yet he asserts with a fresh smile, 'Something just comes out of my brain when I'm working really hard.'
Yayoi Amo was born in 1948 (Showa 23) in Tokyo. She is a traditional craftswoman of Nanbu lozenge embroidery, and lives in Aomori Prefecture.
In 1977, she started learning Nanbu lozenge embroidery by herself and, in 1988, she opened a lozenge embroidery school called the 'Plum Flower Studio'. In 1999, she held an exhibition in Paris with a French ceramic artist.
The history of lozenge embroidery dates back to the Edo period. The number of the geometric pattern is more than 400 and the pattern is sewn on hemp cloth with cotton yarn. Lozenge embroidery exists in the towns of Sannohe, Gonohe, Hachinohe and Kamikita to the south of Aomori. In olden times, farmers were allowed to wear only hemp kimonos and they sewed patterns on light indigo hemp cloth with navy blue and white cotton thread, which made the cloth stronger and warmer. The lozenge embroidery is beautiful and practical at the same time.
Ms Amo composes lozenge embroidery with her hand-made hemp cloth and her dyed cotton thread. Each work has a unique pattern. She says, 'I would be happy if someone wearing my work feels a warm heart.'
Hakone wood mosaic work and wood marquetry are craftwork made in Hakone-machi, Kanagawa Pref. This craft began at a village in the mountains of Hakone in the late Edo period. Later in the middle of the 19th century, the skills to create the repeated geometric patterns of the marquetry were established. This marquetry is well known for its extremely fine handwork and also as the only craft of its kind in Japan. The mountains in Hakone are one of the few places in Japan where there are so many different species of trees. The rich variety of timbers and the natural color of each wood are fully utilized to create geometric patterns of the mosaic work. In the marquetry, natural wood with different colors are joined to express various pictorial patterns. At the present there aren’t many craftsmen who have mastered this skill, and most of the items are made by some government recognized Master Craftsmen. Hakone Wood Mosaic Work and Wood Marquetry are the traditional handicraft unique to this area and at the same time very precious cultural property.
Osamu Suzuki, the famous ceramicist, was born in 1934 in Dachi, Toki City, Gifu prefecture. In 1953, he graduated from the Ceramics Department of Tajimi Industry High-school, and started working at a laboratory of Maruko-toen studying glazes and clays, in order to support his father, Michio. He made efforts to accumulate technological information even though traditional learning emphasized pottery making.
In 1959, he exhibited his first Shino-ware round dish form, a set of five dishes, at the 8th Modern Japanese Ceramic Exhibition and the 6th Japan Traditional Handicraft Exhibition. He won a prize at both exhibitions. After that, he received many awards and in 1982 he won the 19th Gold Prize from the Japan Ceramic Society.
Though wood-fired kilns were traditionally used in his local district, he has consistently made Shino ware using gas-fired kilns and has been highly-valued because of his great works, establishing himself as a leading proponent of modern Shino ware.
In 1987, he won the highest prize of all from the Ministry of Education. In 1994, he was designated as an Important Intangible Cultural Asset Holder (Living National Treasure).
Shino is the first example of full-dressed glazed ceramics in Japan. Its thick glaze is white, soft and pitted like an orange. Shino has a very unique image.
Ryukyu Kasuri is an ikat cloth woven in the town of Haebaru in Okinawa. It is also the collective term for any ikat made in Okinawa.
Ryukyu Kasuri is said to date back to the 14th and 15th centuries. It developed from South-East Asian ikat but its designs feature unique motifs based on Okinawan nature and fauna.
Silk is the main thread used for Ryukyu Kasuri, and is dyed with both natural and chemical dyes. It is mainly produced as a roll of cloth. Hanging wall cloths for the summer season are also made.
To make ikat, warp and weft threads are dyed and woven by hand in ordered patterns. Before weaving, the threads are mounted on a frame, tied in selected areas, then dyed. The threads are then dried and loosened, and carefully woven on a wooden loom to form the pattern.
The simple prints and the geometrical patterns of Ryukyu Kasuri create an exotic atmosphere.