NIPPON Kichi - 日本吉

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群青色(グンジョウイロ) Gunjou-iro Gunjyou Color

Jp En

Gunjyou means literally “gathering of blues” and is based on the name of a paint from China. Gunjyou color, unlike blue or navy blue, contains purplish hints. It is a deep blue and also called konjyou, or Prussian blue.
The best natural gunjyou color was said to be the one that was made from a mineral called ruri, or lapis lazuli, and was very rare to find at that time. Azurite powder from indigo minerals was also used to produce the color.
Gunjyou color was regarded as a necessity to create the vibrant blue color in Japanese painting and was used often in pictures on luxurious room partitions during Momoyama Period. This deep color was also applied lavishly to such items as folding screens and fabrics.
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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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延岡五月幟 Nobeoka-gogatsu-nobori Nobeoka Gogatsu Nobori

Jp En

Gogatsu Nobori are banners that are put up on “Boy’s Day” - May 5th along with Koinobori, Kabuto helmets and Gogatsu Dolls.  This is done to celebrate the boy and to pray for his success and prosperity in the future.  The custom is still preserved in many local areas, each of which displays its own unique banner.
Nobeoka Gogatsu Nobori are one of this type of banner and they have been produced since the Kan’ei period, nearly 400 years ago.  They are made in the Kyushu region, with a dye technique called Tsutsubiki Tezome which is rarely used in the region.
At first, rough sketches are drawn on high quality cotton fabric and the sketches are then hemmed with rice paste. The painting  is done in an elaborate way, using traditional techniques and 20 different colors.
The motif of the drawings varies from The Genpei War, heroic warriors, Kintaro (from a popular children’s tale) or a venerable sage. On completion, the banners, with their  unique color and tone, are solemn and imposing.  They have been designated as a traditional craft by the Miyazaki Prefecture.
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【清】 Sei Clean, Pure, Clear

Jp En

清 is a character combining the 氵 three dots water-classifier and 青 ‘blue-green,’ that can first be seen in the Tenbun (Zhuàn Wén) seal script. In reliable Kanji science, the classifier does certainly not always show the leading notion of the character’s meaning, here, however, it originally points to the clearness of water. The basis of its meaning is 青 ‘blue-green,’ which is a color that represents the aesthetic sense of the time when Kanji were created. The lower element of 青 is 丹, which means that there is 丹 ‘cinnabar, vermilion’ (pigment taken from earth and rocks including sulfur) in the mine’ s well for digging cinnabar. Cinnabar of green-bluish color was also collected from such mining wells. The upper element of 青 represents 生 which shows fresh, green, sprouting grass. Chinese characters were created by clerics of the ancient Chinese dynasty of the Yīn (Shāng) dynasty. In contrast to the following Zhōu period, the people of Yīn (Shāng) were a coastal people or were living in areas close to the seas. Even in the present sailors often have tattoos. Especially coastal people often had the custom of tattooing and ritual body painting, which is an expression of the religious view of that period. Such 青 was used as a ‘sacred’ color in rituals. Therefore, the 青 of the so called 青銅器 ‘Seidôki: bronze vessels’ (青銅 ‘Seidô: bronze’) also is no accident. Blue and vermilion were both used for curse exorcism and pacification. It was believed that a force working against curses that exorcizes evil spirits resides in the color used for ritual body painting and festive vessels. As was already emphasized in color theories like that of Von Goethe and Schopenhauer, it is evident that such sacred colors as green-blue and vermilion strike the visual sense intensely. Among them, 青 blue-green was thought of as an especially tranquil color with a pacifying and purifying effect most appropriate in curse exorcism.
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京唐紙 Kyou-karakami Kyokarakami

Jp En

Karakami is the woodblock-printed paper mainly used for Japanese sliding doors. Karakami made in Kyoto is called Kyokarakami. The origin of Karakami, which literally means “Chinese paper,” dates back to the Heian period (794-1192), when Japanese craftsmen in Kyoto began to make paper by modeling after the paper brought from China. Karakami was first used to write poems on it and then in the later periods it came to be used for Japanese sliding doors.

Karakami greatly developed in the middle of the Edo Period (1603-1868). In the book illustrations depicting craftsmen of this time, drawn in 1685 by Hishikawa Moronobu, a Kyokarakami craftsman working in his studio is included.

Kyokarakami is used for sliding doors at historical sites such as Katsura Detached Palace and temples, Japanese tea house and other traditional places. However, there is only one Kyokarakami producing studio in Kyoto today. There, more than 600 woodblock patterns made in the 17th century, each of which is elaborately hand-carved, are preserved and used according to the purpose of use.

The pigments are mixed with mica dust and an adhesive to create paint. The paint is brushed onto a fine mesh sieve covered with gauze and applied on the woodblock pattern by gently patting the sieve. The Washi paper is then pressed down with a gentle sweep of the hands and then carefully peeled away.

Mica dust in the pigments creates gentle and graceful gloss. It is exquisitely beautiful when the patterns on the paper twinkle softly along with flickering flames of a candle.
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赤坂人形 Akasaka-ningyou Akasaka Dolls

Jp En

Akasaka Dolls are clay dolls made in Akasaka, Chikugo City, Fukuoka Pref. It is designated as a prefectural specialty craft product. Three is no record about a precise history of this handicraft and its origin is unknown but it is presumed that those dolls were first made as an odd job of the potters who worked for the official kilns of Arima Province in the middle of the Edo period. The most famous one is an ocarina called “Tette-Poppo (meaning an awkward man in the local dialect), which was popular among children in those days. Now there are more than ten kinds of dolls including Fukujin (a lucky god), Tenjin (a god of scholarship), and a monkey. The doll is made by applying white pigment made of burnt seashell to a simple brown ware, to which colorful painting is given. It is a very simple clay doll but its simplicity reminds us of childish innocence. It is the representative traditional folk craft in Chikugo area.
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宮崎漆器 Miyazaki-shikki Miyazaki Lacquer Ware

Jp En

Miyazaki lacquer ware (Miyazaki Shikki) is a traditional handicraft, which is designated as a Traditional Craft Product by Miyazaki Prefecture. The history of this craft originates in Ryukyu lacquer ware, which started in present-day Okinawa in the Muromachi period (1336-1573), and the techniques of which we can see in the Shuri Castle Gate in Naha City.

In Miyazaki Prefecture, the lacquering techniques were introduced by some lacquerers, who came to live in this prefecture from Okinawa. Lacquering industry started in this area as the means of promoting local employment and developed as far as to produce the independent lacquer ware Miyazaki Shikki.

The high temperatures and ample humidity of Miyazaki's climate are well suited for drying the pieces, which are applied several times of lacquering; undercoating, middle coating and top coating. These processes are essential for making products strong and durable.

The distinctive way of applying the decorative pattern called Tsuikin characterizes Miyazaki lacquer ware. In Tsuikin techniques, pigment is crushed and mixed with transparent top-coat lacquer and hit by a hammer until it becomes gummy. This is then cut out according to the patterns and attached to a base board.

The outstanding beauty of the vermillion patterns is treasured by a lot of people all over the country. Presently products such as trays, teacup holders, candy dishes and letter boxes are being made.
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漆・テーブル天版(彫刻塗り) Urushi・Teburu-tenban(chokoku-nuri) Table ‘Tenhan’ (lacquer-coated carving)

Jp En

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

Produced byUbushina, Yuta Tachikawa
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