Kazuo Kawasaki was born in 1949, Fukui Prefecture. He is a design director and doctor of medical science. After graduating from Kanazawa College of Arts, he started working at Toshiba where he worked on developing and branding Audio Aurex, a revolutionary new audio system at that time. In 1979, he went freelance and two years later he moved his business base to his home town, Fukui. Since then, he has worked on a wide range of product designs including knives, LCD TVs, eyeglasses and artificial hearts. He has made significant advances in all of these fields.
He was the jury chair for the Japan Good Design Award from 2001 to 2003. He is currently a professor at Communication Design Center and Frontier Research Center at Graduate School of Engineering Osaka University. He is also a professor of Medical Center for Translational Research at Osaka University Hospital.
Mr. Kazuo believes that the designer is a professional that imbues idealism into a physical object. He incorporates many varied fields including mathematics, science, technology and art and builds reality hardheadedly and precisely.
Design is a dream. Here is at least one design director in Japan who earnestly believes that the power of design can change the world.
Masunaga Optical Mfg Co., Ltd is the oldest eyeglass maker in Japan and located in Fukui City, Fukui Prefecture, one of the three biggest eyeglass frame producing districts in the world.
Masunaga Eyeglass was designed by Kazuo Kawasaki who was born and raised locally. The eyewear was awarded Silmo d’Or at the Silmo Eyeglass trade show held at Paris in 2000.
Without using screws and by applying lightweight and flexible beta titanium in its frame, Masunaga eyeglass has achieved a high level of comfort for the wearer. By attaching the lenses to the frames at only one point, it is designed so that the vision is not distorted when the arms are flexed at the temple points. The lenses and the pupils are always equidistant.
Masunaga eyeglass, born from a concept of “smart and high technology”, achieved functionality and nobleness realized by the combination of the Kazuo Kawasaki’s industrial design and Matsunaga’s superb techniques.
This character means the season called autumn. The same in antiquity as now, its characteristic, the harvest is which is reflected in the grain-classifier. The part of the character apart from the left part shows the burning of harmful insects.
In the original character form, the fire is positioned below. It is the most effective position for exposing the larvae or insect’s eggs to fire. The original character form can be seen for the first time in the tortoise plastron and bone characters. The proper original character has the 灬 four dots fire element below the 龜 ‘insect’ of 龝 but has now come to be called ‘variant character’ (with a nuance of abnormality). Nevertheless, it shows the original meaning of the character more clearly. From the present Common Use Kanji 秋 the mutual relation of the character elements cannot be correctly understood. It has become an abbreviation which completely excludes the fire’s role of burning harmful insects. In the original character the four dots fire element is appropriately positioned below the character element representing the insect. Agriculture had already considerably developed in the Yīn (Shāng) period, and ashes and excrements were already used as manure. Rice stem borers and locusts could not be ignored. As grown insects easily flee, the fire most probably was rather directed at the larvae adhering to the rice plants or crops. The original character form also conveys a certain symbolic meaning as, there seems to have been a profound relationship to a seasonal ritual.
'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.
Goshiki-dai Plateau, located in the border of Takamatsu City and Sakaide City in Kagawa Prefecture, is the lava mass composed of five peaks. The five peaks are slightly different in color; hereby they were named Black Peak, Blue Peak, White Peak, Yellow Peak and Red Peak according to the five colors of Buddhism.
Driving on the road running on the hillside, you can enjoy fine views of the Seto Inland Sea and the mountains in Okayama Prefecture. You can also enjoy the seasonal changes in scenery including wild birds and azalea in spring and crimson foliage and orange picking in fall. The walking trails, the grass land and camping sites are provided on the hillside. You can also visit Kagawa Natural Science Museum and The Seto Inland Sea Folk History Museum (consolidated into Kagawa Prefectural Museum in April, 2008).
White Peak located in the western part of the plateau is presumed to have been where the retired emperor Sutoku, who had been defeated in the Hogen Rebellion and exiled to this province, was cremated. Many historic sites concerning the retired emperor remain in the mountain.
Shizuoka Pref. has been known for producing paraphernalia for the Hina Matsuri (doll festival), which included a sewing box, tea utensils, a chest, nagamochi (Japanese trunk), and a scissor case. Those items were originally made to mock the gorgeous bridal trousseau of a warrior’s family in the Edo period. Though miniature, they are made as elaborately as real things. Hina doll fittings had been already made in the Suruga district in the 16th century, when the Imagawa clan ruled the province. In the Edo period (1603-186), carpenters with advanced craft techniques were called together to construct Kunosan Toshogu Shrine and Sengen Shrine. Many of them settled down in this area and taught their techniques to the local craftsmen, by which the production of hina doll fittings greatly developed. The main characteristics of Suruga Hina industry is that all the parts are made separately by craftsmen specializing in woodwork, lacquering, Makie decoration, or metal work. It is said that the industry took off because of this style of specialization and it also made mass production possible. The warm humid climate of the area and its geographical condition of being located between the nation’s two largest consumption centers, Edo (Tokyo) and Kyoto, furthered the growth of hina doll fitting industry in the Suruga region.
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.
Chiryu Float Karakuri is performed at Chiryu Festival of Chiryu Shrine in Chiryu City, Aichi Prefecture, from May 2 to 3 once every two years. It is designated as a National Important Intangible Folk Cultural Property.
Chiryu Shrine is a historic shrine founded in 112 and was ranked the second largest shrine in Mikawa province in the Heian period (794-1192). The enshrined deities are Ugaya Fukiaezu no Mikoto and other three deities. The shrine is worshipped by local people as the god to prevent attacks by Mamushi pit-vipers as well as to bring rain and safe delivery.
Karakuri dolls have been made by the local people in Chiryu with creative ingenuity, and the techniques have been handed down since the Edo Period (1603-1868). They are made by the hands of the town people. The mechanism of the dolls is not sophisticated, and scrub bushes and scrap fabric are used for the material. It is unique and almost unprecedented in the way that dolls alone perform a whole play of Bunraku in response to Jorui chanting. It is said that Chiryu Karakuri is the most elaborate style of the float Karakuri in the country. It is a traditional culture that represents the pride of the people in Chiryu.