Japanese cuisine is highly regarded worldwide for its beauty. This is often attributed not only to the food itself but also to the selection of serving dishes. When served on an elegant plate, home cooking looks even more appetizing. Handmade dishes in which each piece is subtly different in color and shape further heighten the dining experience. In an aesthetic unique to Japan people regularly assimilate nature into their everyday lives; the opposite of beauty being neat and orderly. This Wara White Lotus Serving Plate is handmade and each piece has subtle differences of color and shape. The plate with an inscribed lotus leaf pattern is otherwise plain and enhances the presentation of any dish. It is 20.5cm in diameter and perfect for any occasion. Acquiring a unique handmade plate produced by a small studio is reminiscent of an old Japanese saying, “treasure every meeting, for it will never recur”. Embracing beauty like this will further enrich your life.
'Dragonfly-ball'---do you know this small ball with an unusual name? In short, dragonfly-ball is a glass ball with a colorful pattern; a bead with a hole for string. In Japanese, it is called 'Tombo-dama' and in English 'glass beads'.
The dragonfly-ball has a very long history; it is believed to originate around 3500 years ago in Mesopotamia, the ancient Egypt civilization. Many different dragonfly-balls have been made over the years, attracting many people.
They arrived in Japan in the Edo period from Namban-trade, the trade with Portugal and Spain. The name originated because the surface was decorated with a circle pattern and it looked like the eye of a dragonfly. Since then, for about 400 years, different styles of manufacture or expression have been developed. Now many modern artists are creating beautiful dragonfly-balls.
Designated as the holder of National Important Intangible Cultural Heritage “Chanoyugama” (Living National Treasure) in 1996. Born in 1920 in Yamagata City, Miyagi Prefecture, Keiten Takahashi succeeded the family business of foundry at the age of 19 in 1938 and studied under Tetsushi Nagano, the holder of National Important Intangible Cultural Heritage “Chanoyugama.” By selecting high quality river sand and clay and persisting in continual production method from molding and casting to coloring and finishing, Takahashi creates Chagama (Metal Furo Brazier), which has an elegant shape and soft metal texture. To produce first-class product, he orders iron sand from Shimane Pref., which is said to be very difficult to obtain, and furthermore, he selects the superior ones by feeling with his own fingers. Saying that time and labor yield a good product, he is particular about every step in the making process and sometimes takes as many as 3 months to finish one work. The shape, patterns and metal texture, all perfectly harmonize in Takahashi’s Chagama. His Chagama is highly evaluated as a sharp and sophisticated art work.
Chinkin is the technique of decorating lacquerware by carving patterns into the lacquered surface using a special chisel called “chinkin-to,” then gold leaf or powder is inlayed into the curved design. The technique is said to have been introduced from China in the Muromachi period. It is the traditional handicraft in Wajima City, Ishikawa Pref. Fumio Mae (1940-), the holder of National Important Intangible Cultural Property (Living National Treasure) in Chinkin, studied under a master craftsman and his father, Tokuji Mae after his graduation from the Japanese Painting Department of Kanazawa College of Art in 1963. He advanced his studies in Chinkin-to chisels and even contrived his own chisels. Using a variety of excellent Chinkin techniques, he has created original, sensitive and expressive works. He is also contributing to the technical training in lacquering at the Wajima Lacquer Technique Training Center.
Mingei is an abbreviation of “minshu-teki kogei,” which menas “hand-crafted art of ordinary people.” The Mingei products are mostly ordinary and utilitarian objects. The word “Jomon” literally means “patterns of rope” and “Zogan” is a damascene technique. Mingei pottery Jomon Zogan is a style of pottery which involves using silk rope to make impressions in the wet clay and filling the patterns with white slips of clay, which creates clear contrast with the black color of the buisque.
Jomon Zogan style of pottery was created by Tatsuzo Shimaoka (1919-2007), a designated National Living Treasure. He studied pottery in Mashiko, where he became an apprentice of Shoji Hamada, one of mingei’s founding proponents. Based on the techniques in clay kneading and glazing he acquired in Mashiko and the unpretentious creative spirit of mingei, he developed his own pottery of Jomon Zogan. His sober but innovative style of pottery has been highly esteemed at home and abroad.
Embroidery is the art or handicraft of decorating fabric or other materials with designs stitched in thread or yarn using a needle. The art of embroidery was introduced to Japan from China about 1,600 to 1,700 years ago. Since then, embroidery had been the only way to decorate kimono until the pattern dyeing techniques of Yuzen was introduced. A lot of embroidery techniques were developed in every area of the country for a long time, which led to the present elaborate form of Japanese embroidery.
In ancient Japane, it was thought that stitches had a magical power. For this reason, there was a custome to add an embroidery motif called “Semori” on the back of a garment for children. Semori literally means a back protector. And as children’s kimono had fewer stiches than those of adults, Semori was added as a kind of charm to protect children from evil spirits.
From the similar ideas, embroidery was added to the junihitoe dress, a formal court lady costume in the Heian period (794-1192) and armors for samurai. These religeous element became a part of the bases for the development of embroidery in Japan and “stitches up” the Japanese style of elegance.
In the western world, a house is looked upon as a wall that separates people from the nature, in order to protect the people. Japanese, on the contrary, see a house as an extension of nature, a place to unify with the nature and live together with it. This philosophy is apparent in the architecture style, and window design is also affected. If a building is a place to unify with nature, a window is where the outside and inside unites and where the nature and people connects. With a window, the greenness of a garden and blooming flowers can be seen and the breeze can blow in the house. In the day, a house becomes bright when sun light shines in and at night, moonlight beams in. There is so much behind window design so that people inside a house can come to enjoy the nature and unify with it further. Marumado is a typical example that embodies this concept. The window, a circular shaped with some pattern, looks like the moon or the universe. Despite the artificial window design, it facilitates the appreciation of the nature. This is a beautiful example that embodies the concept of co-habitation with the nature.
Kyoto Kakefuda, founded in 1925, is a long-established dyehouse in Shijyo Horikawa, Kyoto. Since its beginning, the store has been known as a custom order specialty store making the silk “furoshiki” wrapping cloth and the “fukusa” wrapping cloth which traditionally has a family crest and is passed from one generation to the next.
Hidetaka Kakefuda, upon succeeding as head of the family business, undertook the design and production of the cotton furoshiki used as a complementary gift for the name-taking ceremony of Nakamura Kanzaburo XVIII, a famous kabuki actor. He was so impressed with the practicality and usefulness of the cotton furoshiki that the following year, he announced his newly designed line of cotton furoshiki with traditional Japanese patterns which is designed off the shelf for more casual use. Aligned with his new line, the store changed its name to Kyoto Kakefuda and created a special logo for the cotton furoshiki, whose design took inspiration from his family crest.
Now that most design and manufacturing is split between different companies, a specialty store that undertakes the whole process of design, pattern making, dyeing, cutting, finishing and retailing under one brand has become rare and treasured. Despite the store's long established history, Kakefuda is also flexible and open to new ideas, and is pioneering a new direction away from the other established stores reluctant to change.