Hida Shunkei lacquer ware is a traditional handicraft in the cities of Takayama and Hida in Gifu Prefecture. The origin of this craft dates back to 1606. A head carpenter, who were engaged in building temples and shrines in the castle town of Takayama, happened to discover beautiful straight grains, when he chopped a piece of sawara cypress wood apart. He made it into a tray and lacquered the surface. Because the coloring of this tray resembled “Hishunkei,” a famous tea ceremony tea jar made by master potter, Kato Kagemasa, the name Shunkei was given to this lacquer ware.
What makes Hida Shunkei lacquer ware so special is the way that the beauty of the surface of the wood is brought out by the application of a transparent coating of lacquer. It is also characterized by its delicate technique of hegime (grooves that are carved out between the wood grains). When exposed to the light, the grains with hegime grooves glow gold through the transparent lacquer. The more it is used, the more gloss it takes on. Hida Shunkei is extremely appealing and robust form of lacquer ware.
This form of this table is known a sumitsubo, which is an essential tool for a carpenter. Just like nested boxes, this low table-desk can be paired with a chest or a box.
The table is ebonized with black sumi ink which has been fixed by a special technique that does not stain the person using the furniture.
In former times, carpenters drew a straight line on wood using a string blackened with sumi. The memory of sumi living in the wood is beautiful.
*solid Melapy wood with stained black finish
*low chest W950×D430×H305 (mm)
box W950×D405×H205 (mm)
desk W1200×D405×H380 (mm)
*designed by Makoto Koizumi
■produced by Ubushina, Yudai Tachikawa
In the 8th year of the Keicho period (1603), the daimyo Tsugaru Tamenobu, who helped unify the Tsugaru domain, first made plans for this castle. But it was not until two generations later, in the 15th year of the Keicho period (1610), that Nobuhira commenced construction to complete the castle two years later. The castle became the Tsugaru family house and remained the center of Tsugaru domain politics for 260 years until the abolition of the domain.
The castle consists of six parts: main, second, third, fourth, north and west in grounds of about 49.2 ha. It is very rare that so much of a 400-year-old castle has been preserved, including a tower, gate, and triple water moats.
There is a small three-storied castle keep located near the southwest wall. The tower harmonizes tastefully with the four seasons that include cherry blossom in spring, the moon in summer, the moon, the maple in autumn and snow in winter.
Miharu-goma horse toys are part of a traditional wooden-toy craftmaking tradition in Miharu, Tamura district, Fukushima prefecture. Miharu-goma, along with Yawata-goma of Aomori prefecture and Kinoshita-goma of Miyagi prefecture, are known as the three best wooden horse toys of Japan.
Wooden horse toys were first made following a legend that a wooden horse had appeared to help the Heian shogun, Sakanoue no Tamuramaro, in a close battle with Emishi.
These toy horses come in two basic body colors, white or black, while the whip, saddle and accessories are painted in red, black, gold and purple.
These toy horses express the love the Miharu people have for horses. Miharu has traditionally been a horse-breeding area.
The wooden horses consist of two basic carved pieces that fit perfectly together using joints and notches. Several accessories are added to show the dynamism of the horse. When the white and black horse are placed together they are extremely cute. There is a Miharu wooden horse decorating the finishing post of the Fukushima racecourse.
Every year in the middle of September, a folk song event called Mugiyamatsuri (Mugiya Festival) takes place over two days in Nanto, Toyama Prefecture. The melody played during the festival is called 'mugiyafushi' and was composed by farmers working in fields of wheat ('mugi'). The melody emanates sadness and sorrow, but with the linear, brisk dancing, the result is a serene and meticulous collaboration of sound and movement.
About 800 years ago, the once-powerful Heike clan fell after their defeat at the battle of Dannoura. The Heike clan sought refuge in a secluded area called Echugokayama. The Heiki people became farmers, and sang the mugiyafushi as they harvested the land.
It is said that the 'mugiyafushi' originated from a song from Wajima on the Noto Peninsula, that was sung while making noodles. The merchants who sold noodles and wheat would travel from Noto to Echu, spreading songs such as the 'notomugiyafushi' and 'madara'. These songs eventually made their way to Gokayama, where they became known as the 'echumugiyafushi'.
Today, events such as performance competitions between citizens, as well as the 'mugiya odori' dance, take place on a special stage placed within the Johanabetsuin Zentokuji.
Ikou Temple is located in Masuda, in Shimane Prefecture.
Sukanji Temple, built in the year 1363, was the predecessor of this temple. Later, Souken Masuda combined the two into the new Ikou Temple.
The big gateway remaining at the entrance to the temple originally came from Masuda Castle after the battle of Sekigahara. During the Edo period, the temple reformed its roof in Ryugu style. The temple became affiliated with the Masuda clan.
The garden, created by the 5th resident priest, Sesshu, is still there. The garden’s samurai-manor style, with its crane shapes and the turtle rock inside the lake, has Muromachi-period characteristics. The garden follows the shape of the pond. It is designated as a historical spot of national importance.
There is a sense of Sesshu’s ink painting here in the garden, from the trimmed ericaceae on the slope at the back, to the linear stone arrangements, and the groupings of the cherry trees that blossom in the spring.
It is a garden that has different faces for each season.
Naniwa bamboo craft is characterized by its beautiful combination of straight and curved lines of quality matake bamboo, which is over-woven many times. The craft was designated as a prefectural Traditional Craft Product. Currently it is produced mainly in the cities of Osaka, Tondabayashi, and Sakai, Osaka Pref. In the Nara period (701−794) there were a lot of high quality bamboos growing around this district and the local people began to make bamboo baskets for agricultural use. Later in the Edo period (1603−1867), when flower arrangement and tea ceremony were flourished, flower vessels and charcoal baskets began to be made. Thus by the middle of the Edo period a large producing area had been formed. A cut bamboo is split into strips with the equal thickness and width, which are called higo. Then higo are woven over and over to form the main part called do. Next, a cut rattan is also sprit into strips with the equal thickness and width to be used for the frame of a vessel. After the shape is formed, it is dyed in hot water twice, dried, and polished with a rotten stone. Finally urushi lacquer is applied and polished again to give it gloss. It this shine black finish that characterizes Naniwa bamboo craft works. At the present, items such as flower baskets, large food baskets, and other articles of daily use are produced.
The origins of Osaka Ranma (Transoms) is said to date back to the beginning of the 17th century. The original forms of this traditional wood working skill can be seen at Osaka’s Hijiri Shrine and Shiteno-ji Temple. Duringmid-Edo period, transoms were mainly introduced into merchants’ houses notonly for practical reasons of ventilation and lighting but also as homede´cor to keep the home decency.There are many techniques in Osaka transom woodwork, including chokokurannma (curved transom), which makes use of light presence of the grain of Yaku cedar, and osa rannma (reed transom) or kumiko rannma (latticetransom), which harmonize with beauty of a Japanese house. The materials of Osaka transoms are precious wood of Yaku cedar, other cedar from Kasuga, Yoshino, and Akita regions, Aizu paulownia, and Japanese cypress, and they are processed with tools peculiar to Osaka region. Even a small brush line drawn on a sketch is curved out by making full use of special tools and delicate expression is shown in form.