NIPPON Kichi - 日本吉

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青花 Aobana Aobana

Jp En

Aobana is a colorant that originated in Japan and that has been in use for years.
Aobana, literally meaning blue flower, is obtained from the petals of perennial plants such as tsuyukusa (blue dayflower) and hotarugusa (firefly grass). The blue liquid is then applied to a paper which acts as a carrier for the colorant. Aobana is therefore called aobana-gami (aobana paper) or ai-gami (indigo paper) on some occasions.  Aobana colorant has been used to draw rough sketches, most often for sketching Yuuzen  patterns.
If you tear a small amount of aobana, place it on a plate and pour some water over it, the blue liquid will appear. This aobana colorant appears only on contact with moisture which makes it an ideal colorant for sketching.
The fleeting nature of aobana has been well recognized since ancient times, which is evidenced by an old waka poem:  “people’s minds are like the elusive blue dayflower that changes its color easily”.
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千草色(チグサイロ) Chigusa-iro Chigusa Color

Jp En

Chigusa is a greenish light blue color extracted from the small blue petals of spiderwort flowers that bloom in the summer.
Spiderwort is called “tsuyukusa” in Japanese. Tsuyukusa is also known as “tsukikusa” and chigusa is said to derive from the word, tsukikusa.
Spiderwort is a prairie wildflower that grows in fields and by the roadside in summer. The flowers open in the morning, closing again in the afternoon. It is a delicate flower that brings a beautiful touch to the Japanese summer. The color extracted from the flower is very delicate and is easily washed away with water. It is used to draw a rough sketch for Yuuzen style dyeing.  
Kimonos which were provided by merchants in Kyoto for their apprentices were lightly dyed with indigo plants and had a pale blue color. After a while the color of the kimono would start to fade so it was dyed again.  The color arising from repeated dying of the fabric became known as chigusa color, perhaps because when the indigo plant is used lightly as a dye, it is a light green in color that is similar to the blue of fabric dyed with spiderwort.
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ケンケト祭 Kenketo-matsuri Kenketo Festival

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Kenketo Festival is held on Sunday near April 23rd every year at Suginoki Shrine in Ryuo-cho and Yasaka Shrine in Gamo-cho both in Higashi Omi City, Shiga Pref. The word “kenketo” comes from the echoic word of the sound of Japanese bells and drums in matsuri-bayashi music, which sounds like “ke-ken-kei, ke-ken-don, ke-ken-kei, ke-ken.” It has been held since the Heian period (794-1192) to pray for rich harvest. Dedicated together is the dance called “Naginata Odori,” in which the eldest sons of shrine parishioner families at the age of 11-12 in matching Yuzen kimonos parade to the shrine, dancing to the music of Japanese bells and drums. It is said that the boys’ costume is modeled after the dress of the local people who joined Oda Nobunaga’s forces as foot soldiers to attack Koga province. The festival is selected as a National Intangible Cultural Property. Kenketo Festival is an elegant festival with a history of 1,000 years.
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髙橋欣也 Takahashi kinya Kinya Takahashi

Jp En

With its picturesque quality and its scientific technique, Yuzen dyeing is an art form unique to Japan.
Takahashitoku, an elite dyeing studio in Kyoto, has for 100 years produced Yuzen dyes for the prominent manufacturer, Chiso.
The Takahashitoku studio is trying to preserve and make relevant this traditional art form for modern uses. They dye dresses and jeans for Yoji Yomamoto, one of world’s top contemporary designers. They also collaborated with a celebrated young artist and created scrolls and screens of his compute graphics paintings. For public, they hold classes for to experience hand painted Yuzen for fun.
“Tradition and techniques need to be accepted by people in order to survive’, says Kinya Takahashi, director of the studio. “But then what makes them acceptable? This question is always on my mind.”
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紅型 Bin-gata Bingata

Jp En

Bingata is an Okinawan traditional paste resist dyeing technique. It was created in the 16th century as a dying process for the clothing of the royalty and the nobles of the Ryukyu Kingdom. Because of this, most of the dye-shops at the time were located around Shuri Castle and protected by the government. Although the word “bin-gata” literally means “red patterns” in Japanese, Bingata is generally multi-colored cloth dyed with various patterned stencil papers.

There are actually two methods of doing Bingata dyeing; “stencil dying” and “cylinder drawing.” In stencil dyeing, the boundaries of the patterns are set with the application of rice-paste resist through a stencil. In cylinder drawing, patterns are hand-drawn through what looks to be a pastry tube.

The bright colors produced by these careful hand processes fascinated the royalty and the nobility of the time. Especially the yellow color created by fukugi (Garcinia subelliptica) was allowed to be used only for the loyal family.

Today, Bingata resist dyed cloth is used not only for clothing but also for many other items such as bags and tapestries, all of which feature an exotic atmosphere of a southern land. Together with Yuzen dyeing, it is one of Japan’s representing dyeing techniques now.
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伊勢型紙 Ise-katagami Ise-Katagami

Jp En

Ise-katagami is a Japanese traditional handicraft handed down for about 1.000 years in Mie Prefecture. Kkatagami is Japanese paper stencil patterns for kimono. Kimono stencil has been called Ise-Katagami because it was made primarily in Ise province (present-day Mie Prefecture) and the stencil paper making was protected by the Kishu domain in the Edo period (1603-1868) as the industry of the domain’s outland territory. They were sold all over Japan by itinerant traders called Ise Merchants.

Ise kimono stencil is made of Japanese washi paper with a persimmon stringent liquid, onto which elaborate and elegant kimono patterns are hand-carved. They are mainly used for dyeing kimono such as Yuzen, yukata and Komon. Today they are also used for drawing patterns on pottery ware, glass ware, and goza-mats as well as for the background mon-gara patterns for newspaper names.
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刺繍 Shisyuu Japanese Embroidery

Jp En

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.
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松井俊樹 Matsui Toshiki Toshiki Matsui

Jp En

Toshiki Matsui is a craftsman in Kyo Yuzen, a traditional handicraft handed down in Kyoto. His pen name is Shozui. He was born in Kyoto in 1940. He specializes in painting including base drawing, coloring on the part of the cloth which has been outlined with the resist (itome-nori) and musen-Yuzen, in which designs are painted directly onto the fabric with a brush. He was designated as a Traditional Craftsman by the Ministry of International Trade and Industry in 1988.
It is said that the yuzen technique of painting dye directly onto cloth was established by Miyazaki Yuzensai, a popular fan painter living in Kyoto toward the end of the 17th century. Yuzen’s modern designs as well as its vast range of dyeing, pasting, and other techniques such as embroidery and leafing have brought this industry to perfection. Different from Kaga Yuzen, brushes are used in painting in Kyo Yuzen.
Mr. Matsui uses as many as 3,000 brushes, which were all handmade by himself and used for different purposes. He applies the dyes on cloth, using his brushes free-flowingly like his own fingers. His excellent techniques and colorful designs are now used not only for kimono but also for a variety of products such as dresses and framed pictures.
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