Old Toyoma Higher Elementary School located in Toyoma Town, Tome City, Miyagi Prefecture, was built in 1888. It is a nationally designated Important Cultural Property. The Japanese architectural style is attractively combined with the Western-styled design.
It is a U-shaped cloistered building surrounding a courtyard, which is a characteristic of the Meiji-period architecture. Over the entrance door is an impressive white balcony, from which the whole building can be viewed. Decorations are given to the uppermost part of the pillars supporting the balcony, making it look like a Greek temple.
The school building was designed by Kisaburo Yamazoe, who had studied architecture for 3 years in Europe. No deformation has occurred even after 100 years since it construction.
Born in Tokyo. Miwa Natori went to Germany age sixteen and studied commercial design there. After returning to Japan, she worked in the magazine fields of editing and advertising production. She went to Europe later again and worked as a designer, coordinator for a film production company and translator. When she came back to Japan, she ran an antique store in Tokyo specializing in western goods. Then, she moved to Thailand, where in 1997 she founded a “Ban Romu Sai”, a home for children who lost their parents to HIV and are infected with the virus themselves. The home produces original products for sale and Ms Natori manages the production and marketing as well as working as a designer. The products are now available on their web site and began to be sold at selected retail outlets in Japan. Since 2001, an exhibition called “Under the Tree” is held every year and exhibits work by the children in the home. In March 2007, she opened the first direct store “Ban Ronmu Sai Kamakura”.
Candy craft in Japan involves the processing of sweet and water candy into various colors or shapes.
The history of candy making in Japan is very long and one theory is that a craftsman in China dedicated his candy to Toji Temple in the Heian period. Another theory has it that a pipe craftsman made the candy in order to draw customers' attention.
Candy craft is not only made in Japan, but in Southeast Asia and Europe, too. There are many kinds from those sold in stalls to those used to decorate cakes.
In Japan, candy craft is supposed to be made by craftsmen at stalls or at fairs. Water candy is warmed, mixed with three food colorings, and shaped with scissors and brushes.
Candy has to be processed in one minute before it turns cold, and this requires great skill.
Sitting, with your back leaned against the wall of a station built in the image of an European chapel, you can see a range of nifty general stores and the like along Yunotsubo Street. This street leads to Kinrin Lake and is a good place to take a stroll. Depending on the season, you can enjoy different kinds of scenary here.
In the spring, cherry blossom trees extend from the Jo bridge to the Miyuki bridge all along the Oitahe river while rape-blossom fields cover the ground like a yellow carpet to the south. During the summer, Japanese wisteria and irises are prominent while fall foliage and morning mists around Mt. Yufu create a lovely sight in the autumn. In the winter, snow blankets the entire area. After taking in the charming scenary at Yufuin, you can take a dip in the famed hot springs nearby and wash away any tiredness from roaming about.
Why are there places in this area that are written 由布院 and others that are written 湯布院? The pronunciation is the same, both are pronounced Yufuin, but that first kanji in the name varies. In the 30th year of the Showa period, when the towns of Yufuin (由) and Yunohira (湯) merged, the resulting town was named Yufuin (湯布院). This is why older places like Yufuin Station and Mt. Yufuin are written with 由 rather than 湯.
Goryoukaku is a late-Edo period fortress located in Hakodate, Hokkaido. The star-shaped fortress is also known as Kameda Yakusho Dorui.
Goryoukaku was constructed on the orders of the Tokugawa Shogunate to provide an administrative center and place for defense following the opening of Hakodate as a port with the declaration of the Convention of Kanagawa.
The fortress is designed in a Western style, which was a standard form for war purposes. It was preliminarily made as a fortress against foreign threats, although it was later transformed into a government institution.
In 1922, the fortress was designated as a national ruin and in 1952 it was chosen as a special national ruin. Nowadays it is known as a beauty spot for cherry blossom.
Kakiemon Sakaida was born in 1934 in Arita, Saga Prefecture, and graduated from the Nihonga (Japanese Painting) Department of Tama Art College, Tokyo.
In 1983, he succeeded to the title of 14th Kakiemon. In 1984, he won the Japan Ceramic Association prize and, both in 1986 and 1992, the Japan Handicraft Association encouragement prize at the Japan Traditional Handicraft Exhibition.
In 2001, he was designated as a holder of an Important Intangible Cultural Asset (Iroe pottery), and a Living National Treasure. Now, he is director of the Japan Handicraft Association, a leading member of the Japan Handicraft Association West Branch and a professor of art at the Kyushu Industry Graduate School.
Kakiemon was the name awarded to the first ceramicist in Arita, Hizen country, who developed Iroe-jiki porcelain. Kakiemons are famous for the unique styles of Iroe ware: with red glaze, or with a milk-white ground and bright, vivid overglazed decoration. Their Iroe ware are both splendid and graceful, elegantly employing blank spaces. The work of various Kakiemon has influenced Meissen pottery in Europe and Jingdezhen pottery in China.
Kakiemon Sakaida says: 'I have made new dishes and designs, but pottery for daily use is more difficult to make than art.' He has always endeavored to follow his clients' wishes when creating new work. He currently makes decorations based on strawberries or foxtails.
Kyoto incrustation is a traditional craft that is made by inlaying pieces of shaped gold and silver into the base metal. Nowadays the artistry is used in personal belongings, such as necklaces and brooches, and for interior decorative objects, such as clocks and picture frames.
The technique of incrustation originated in Damascus, Syria, in the Middle East. Later it spread to Europe, China, Korea and finally to Kyoto in the 14th century. The technique became prevalent in Kyoto in the late-Edo period, with the trend for incrusted inlay work on the scabbards of samurai swords.
In the Meiji period, incrustation workmanship was admired in America and became a major export. Due to its delicacy and elegance, no other craft could follow. Each of the pieces crafted by proficient craftsmen show different characters and are brilliant.
Fallen camellia is one of the spring season words in haiku, or 5-7-5 poems. Camellia japonica is a major evergreen broadleaf tree which flowers from winter to the beginning of spring.
The camellia flower does not fall separately as petals, but as a complete flower from its root. It was said that after the Meiji period, samurais hated the camellia because of the way it appeared to drop from the neck. In fact, it was already being propagated in the Edo period.
The flower is both beautiful and useful, so it has been famous since the time of 'Collection of a Myriad Leaves' (750). In modern ages, it was loved as a tea flower and many garden varieties were invented. It has also been featured in art and music.
In the 18th century, a Jesuit sub-cenobite, G.J. Kamel obtained its seeds in the Philippines and introduced it to Europe. In ‘The Lady of the Camellias,’ the novel written by Alexandre Dumas fils, it appears as the flower loved by the leading character.