In 2005, at a department-store event sponsored by Dunhill, an established English brand, urushi (Japanese lacquer) was adopted as the wall material.
Urushi lacquer gives a temporary space a very luxurious finish, but the Dunhill creative team wanted to create a mysterious space like a black hole; the smooth and elegant appearance, which only urushi can express, drew the attention of passers-by. This was the most important reason why they decided to use urushi.
The surface of the urushi wall is also decorated with lines of silver foil. The contrast between ebony and silver produces a modern touch.
Ubushima produced the urushi area of the event space. It took them about half a year considering the project from many angles, to inspect and solve the task of using urushi in a public space. This event makes us understand and learn about some of the special qualities of urushi and take new steps with the material.
■Dunhill event space
*acrylic black lacquer
*designed by Kenichi Otani
■produced by Ubushina, Yudai Tachikawa
The Sarugaishi River running through the mid-western part of Iwate Pref. is a river classified as Class A River by Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport. It is part of the Kitakami River System. The total length is 73 kilometers and the watershed is 952 square kilometers. Springing out of Mt. Yakushi (1645 m) on the border of Tono City and Hanamaki City, Iwate Pref. the branch rivers including the Kogarase River, the Hayase River and the Otomo River join the main stream. Along the river are the folk tale town of Tono, which is famous for “The Legends of Tono,” Lake Tase for outdoor activities and the town of Towa in Hanamaki City, which is famous for “Naki-zumo (crying sumo wrestling).” Then the river finally flows into the Kitakami River near Igirisu Kaigan (English Coast) named by Kenji Miyazawa. The Sarugaishi River is well-known as the fishing place for Japanese trout, Yamame, Ugui and Iwana. The watershed area is part of Hayachine Quasi-National Park, where a variety of alpine plants, large and small waterfalls and beautiful gorges can be viewed.
Tsurumaru Castle is a prefecturally designated historic site located in Shiroyama-cho, Kagoshima City, Kagoshima Pref. It was built in 1601 by Shimazu Iehisa, who succeeded the clan after the defeat in the Battle of Sekigahara. According to the Satsuma style simple and sturdy philosophy, which is well represented by the words, “What defends the province is not a castle but men,” the castle was built in very simple style without a donjon. The name Tsurumaru (literally meaning a crane circle) came from the shape of the castle, which looked like a crane with its wings spreading. As the town of Kagoshima has been attacked by natural disasters many times, Tsurumaru Castle has also been destroyed or burned down and restored each time. During the Bombardment of Kagoshima, several cannonball shells were fired at Okugoten hall of the castle from the British battle ships. In 1871, the castle was destroyed by fire again and has never been restored. At the present time, the stone wall and the moats remain in the ruins. The remains of Saigo Takamori’s private school, Kagoshima prefectural historical museum “Reimeiken,” the prefectural library and the city museum are also located in the ruin.
Mikawa Fireworks are a traditional industry of Okazaki, Aichi Prefecture. Fireworks first began to be made when gunpowder became openly available during the Edo period. The making of firearms developed here in Okazaki and soon evolved into the production of fireworks.
The first fireworks entered Japan when the King of England presented them as a gift to the Shogun in Edo during the 1600s. On the night of August 6th, 1613, Hidetada, the second Shogun of Edo, set off the fireworks to welcome guests. Soon after, many fireworks were made and displayed, but much time was still needed to perfect the methods and skills of its production. Due to the many injuries caused by fireworks, they were once banned by the government.
Some of the most famous Mikawa Fireworks are the sea-based displays and the goldfish fireworks. The first fireworks display to take place in Mikawa was part of a festival held in 1948. The Okazaki Fireworks Display, as it is now known, is still held annually today.
Rokkaen is a garden located in Kuwana-shi, Mie Prefecture, which contains a mansion that splendidly harmonizes Japanese and Western building styles. It was built in 1913 as the residence of the second generation Moroto Seiroku.
Josiah Conder, who became famous for designing Rokumeikan (the Deer Cry Pavilion), was responsible for planning Rokkaen as well. The layout of the house consists of a two-story European-style building with four small rooms inside a tower, a natural slate roof, a Japanese-style building and a shed, as well as a garden around a pond.
Currently the house is open to the public, and tourists may come here to relax, or chat with other visitors. In 1997, Rokkaen was designated as an Important Cultural Property of Japan. In 2001, the garden, excluding one section, was nominated as a scenic spot of Japan.
The Rokkaen is a precious cultural heritage which represents the fusion of Japanese and Western architectural styles popular in the late Meiji and Taisho periods. It is a classic example of period architecture encapsulating Taisho romance and passion.
Born 1941, Sado Island. Mr. Itou is the fifth generation of his family working with the Sekisui kiln. Today the kiln maintains its long tradition of producing “Mumyoui-yaki” (Mumyoui porcelain), a unique pottery that originated in Sado Island and has nearly 200 years of history beginning in the late Edo period. “Mumyoui” is fine and delicate clay with a reddish brown color extracted from the gold mines of the Sado mountain. Historically the clay has also been used for medicinal purposes. Sekisui Itou (known also as Sekisui V), not being satisfied with the traditional pottery world, developed new clay working techniques that became highly regarded worldwide. The basis of his methods are two unique techniques: Youhen, in which the flame direction is altered to bring about the black and red contrasts and Neriage, the layering of different colors of clay, that produces his signature look. He has been awarded the Prize of the Prince Takamatsu’s Memorial in the Exhibition of Japanese Traditional Art Crafts and the Prince Chichibu Trophy in the Japan Ceramic Art Exhibition. He was designated as a Living National Treasure and the pottery Mumyoui as an Important Intangible Cultural Asset by the Japanese government in 2003. His works are exhibited in many museums worldwide including the Smithsonian Institute and the Victoria and Albert Museum.
Kashima Nishiki is a traditional hand-woven fabric made in Saga Pref. It is known for the delicate and gorgeous geometric patterns. The origin of this craft dates back to the early Edo period, when a widow of the feudal lord of Nabeshima Clan in Hizen-Kashima, who had been ill in bed, hit upon an idea of making a woven fabric when she saw the beautiful pattern of the bamboo ceiling, which was called the Ajiro pattern. At first, the weaving was passed on as a form of female education for young girls from samurai families such as the Sagas, the Ogis and the Kashimas. Many improvements had been made in the course of time and the techniques which are used today were established. In making of Kashima Nishiki, Japanese paper made of paper mulberry, which is coated with gold and cut into strips, is used as the warp, and dyed silk thread is passed through the paper strips as the woof. The subtle, delicate and time-consuming techniques are needed in the making process, in which the warp is worked with silk woof at every other thread to create enchanting patterns. Nishiki brocades were highly praised at the Anglo-Japanese Exposition held in Britain during the Meiji period and even today they are highly evaluated overseas as the perfection of Japanese hand weaving. Since this participation in the exposition, Nishiki brocades are known as “Saga Nishiki,” however, the ones made in Kashima area are still called Kashima Nishiki.