The Group of Tile Kiln Site at Hinodeyama
The group of tile kilns was excavated at Hinodeyama Hill in Shikama Town, Miyagi Prefecture. They are thought to have been the ruins of one of the few roof tile producing factories in the ancient Tohoku region. The site is designated as a Historic Site by the national government.
It is thought that the roof tiles for Tagajo Fort, which was the administrative center of the Tohoku region in the early Nara period (710-794), were produced at these kilns. Up to the present, 6 sites have been confirmed and 7 kilns are preserved in the site, which is presently arranged into a history park, where azalea trees and green turf create fresh green oasis. You can see large holes dug in the slope of the hill located in the tranquil countryside.
The excavated roof tiles include the half-round eave-end pendant tile with a lotus pattern with double layered petals, the concave rectangular pendant tiles with a pattern of parallel lines, half-round tiles, and broad concave tiles. Besides roof tiles, pieces of Sueki pottery were found. From the bottom of the Sueki vessels and the kodai-foot, it can be seen that the static thread method, in which the vessel is cut from the wheel head with thread, was employed.
Gohara lacquer ware is a traditional handicraft in Hiruzen, Maniwa City, Okayama Prefecture. It is designated as an Important Intangible Folk Cultural Property by the prefecture. It is said that the craft dates back to the Meitoku era (1390-1400) of the Muromachi period. The production reached its peak in the Edo period (1603-1868), when a lot of Gohara lacquer products were shipped to areas in the Sanin region.
Local chestnut wood is cut in a round slice, which is directly placed on a turner and shaped into a desired form, by which the grains of wood remain unimpaired. Then natural lacquer from Bicchu area (the southwestern part of the prefecture) is applied many times to create solid surface.
Because of its beautiful curbs of grains as well as the practicability for daily use, Gohara lacquered vessels are still loved by many people.
Kyoto wood work is best known for joinery, the work of joining different shapes of wood to make a form. However, besides conventional joinery, carving, bentwood work, turnery, cooperage are all included in Kyoto joinery.
Wood turnery is the technique to produce wooden crafts in a concentric shape like bows and trays by applying a blade on a piece of wood that is spinning on a turner. A turner was operated by hand in the ancient times, but an electric turner is used today. However, adjustment of the rotational frequency and blade angle at the final stage is still done by hand to create beautiful curves. Some turnery works will be on the market as completed products and others will be further curved or lacquered. Making full use of the qualities of the wood as it is, Kyoto wood turnery works have fineness and warmth.
The chair on the left shows a carpentry technique of shaving bark, while the chair on the right shows a technique in which leather is attached to a chair.
A wooden chair with a single-leg is unique. The leg is made using a technique in which bark is shaved by turning a piece of wood on a potter’s wheel. Its shape is generated by a rotary motion that looks as if the chair has started rolling,
As for the other chair, its candy-colored leather is modern and elegant. It was designed for an apparel retail store. Thick leather is wrapped around steel bars. The leather wrapping and sewing requires great skill.
■ Single-leg chair（left）
*Mahogany with oil finish
*Ｗ×Ｄ×Ｈ×ＳＨ （ｍｍ） ５４０×４４０×７１０×４５０
*steel flat bar/leather
*Ｗ×Ｄ×Ｈ×ＳＨ （ｍｍ） ６２２×６７０×７５０×４２０
*Both items are designed by Intentionallies
■produced by Ubushina, Yudai Tachikawa
Yamanaka lacquer ware is a traditional handicraft handed down for 400 years in Kaga City, Ishikawa Prefecture. This craft dates back to the Tensho era (1570-1592) during the Azuchi-Momoyama period, when wood turners from Echizen (present-day Ishikawa Prefecture) moved to this area and taught turnery to the local workmen. In the Edo period (1603-1868), the techniques of lacquering and makie were introduced, by which the town became famous as the producing center of tea utensils.
Yamanaka lacquer ware is characterized by rokurobiki, or wheel wood carving skills, by which a block of wood place on a wheel is shaped into a bowl or a teacup holder. At the summit of wheel wood curving skill is kashoku-biki, or pattern adding wheel curving, in which quality of wood and beauty of grains are fully utilized. The turned pieces are perfect in shape without any deformation and they are works of art in themselves. In Yamanaka lacquer ware, the excellent skills of turners, which are beyond all imagination from the simple appearance of the finished works, are hidden behind the application of lacquer.
Ohi pottery is a traditional handicraft handed down for about 330 years in Kanazawa City, Ishikawa Prefecture. The making of Ohi pottery dates back to 1666, when the fifth lord of the Kaga domain, Tsunanori Maeda, invited the founder of the Urasenke school of tea ceremony, Senso Soshitsu, from Kyoto. At this time the first Chozaemon Ohi accompanied him to make tea utensils. Chozaemon found suitable clay at Ohi village and started making tea bowls and jugs that suited Soshitsu’s taste. He became the founder of Ohi pottery.
Ohi pottery masters have succeeded the name of Chozaemon Ohi and now the tenth generation of Chozaemon Ohi carries on the tradition.
Ohi pottery is made in a unique process, which uses no potter's wheels. The pottery is shaped by hand and working-out of the details is given by knives and planers. A special glaze is used to produce a unique amber coloring, which gives a very sensitive and mysterious impression.
The works of the successive generations of Chozaemon Ohi are displayed at Ohi Pottery Museum, which is located next to the kiln of the present generation.
This brass lamp is used in the lobby of the Hotel Claska in Meguro, Tokyo. Its design makes good use of light reflected from the brass.
This same form is also used to produce other pendent lighting and wall-mounted lighting fixtures at the hotel.
For the craftsmen, the idea of shipping their products without final coloring was like selling their products naked. There was a risk that small pinholes made by air or dust within the metal would show. But the casting techniques they used overcame such a risk.
It is a great challenge for craftsmen to try something that they would never have thought possible or to rethink their established works. But through projects like this, craftsmen could create something new that provided a stimulus to old designs.
■ＨＯＴＥＬ ＣＬＡＳＫＡ brass lamp
* Namagata casting
* brushed finish using a potter's wheel
*designed by Intentionallies
■produced by Ubushina, Yudai Tachikawa
Seiroku Nakamura is a craftsman in Imari-Arita ware, a traditional handicraft in Saga Pref. He was born in Hasami-cho, Nagasaki Pref. in 1916. He was designated as a Traditional Craftsman in 1979 and an Important Intangible Cultural Property by Saga Pref. in 1990.
The origin of Imari-Arita ware dates back to the end of the Warring States period (the beginning of the 17th C), when a Korean potter, Li Sanpei discovered fine porcelain stone in Arita. It is characterized by the gorgeous blue patterns drawn on the pure white surface. The porcelain used to be called differently as Imari ware and Arita ware, but being made in the same processes, they are commonly called Imari-Arita ware today.
Mr. Nakamura turns a large wheel with excellent skills and creates his own delustered porcelain. The beautifully curving lines and clam white color give the impression of delicate warmth. He always looks forward and munificently hands down his creative mind, which he himself learned from his teacher, to the younger generation. His graceful attitude is fully reflected in his works.