When most rooms in Japanese houses had tatami floors, an easy daily cleanup was done with broom and dustpan. Sweeping removed dust quickly and was a simple activity that kept everyday life clean.
Such scenes are seen less and less often these days, but is this a good thing, even though our lifestyles are getting more diverse? Just to clean up a small space, we have to pull out a vacuum cleaner, use it for a short period, then put it back.
Bearing this in mind, why don't you keep a broom and 'harimi' (paper dustpan) in your room? A harimi is made from Japanese paper coated with persimmon tannin, and the size is about 20cm. The color of a harimi is appropriate and it will fit in with any kind of room. The size is quite small and it does not appear jarring.
Daily tools like a harimi look wonderful, even when left lying around in a room. Moreover, a harimi is very useful when used with a small broom for little spaces such as desktops and shelves.
Takefu Knife Village is a brand created in 1982 by local curter artisans in Takefu, the biggest cutlery producing district that proudly maintains over seven hundred years of history.
In 1983 with the collaboration of Kazuo Kawasaki, a design director who was born and raised locally, Takefu launched its new series of kitchen knives, ARTUS.
While using the traditional method to create the blade part and by utilizing a unique design to unify from the tip of the blade to the handle, it achieved a simple yet innovative, hygienic and highly aesthetic product.
ATRUS is made by “fire casting”, a traditional craftsman’s striking technique, which uses a three-layer structure with steel forged by hand that is inserted between stainless steel. It is this technique that enables the knife to be sharp and resistant to rust.
ATRUS was born from a great trinity: the seven policies based on the Takefu’s commitment to create wonderful hand-made products; its traditional cutlery making method; and outstanding design by Kazuo Kawasaki. Its excellence is evident as even more than 20 years after its initial introduction it is still sold without any modifications.
EIZO LCD TV, which has become popular with its simple yet finely refined design and high quality, launched their new line of color LCD HDTV, under the brand name of FORIS.
FORIS HD can be used as both a television and computer monitor. It has a high resolution of more than 720 lines with an aspect ratio is 16:9. Accompanying its high definition, EIZO has developed new techniques which enable FORIS monitors to present a picture which is gentle on the viewer’s eyes.
By applying Pythagoras’ Theorem (3:4:5) to its sound technology, EIZO has succeeded in developing a highly effective and superb quality in both the bass and treble ranges.
It has vivid vermilion Bengal color on its side which is traditionally considered a noble color, making a definite mark of Japanese manufacture.
It is the further evolution of a new information terminal fusing the television and computer.
Tori no Ichi, or Tori Fair, is a religious fair that takes place every November and is believed to have originally started at Ootori Shrine in Asakusa. Takarabune-kumade, or Treasure ship rake, is a harbinger of good luck, coming from a belief that rakes gather up good luck and prosperity, and they are available only at the Tori Fair of Ootori Shrine. The Takarabune rakes are currently made only in Yoshida store in Asakusa. The size of the rakes varies from 6cm to 3.4m. The store starts making the rakes immediately after the fair, taking a whole year to prepare for the following years event.
At first, paper is cut using a pattern, then lines are drawn followed by coloring. After the faces of Shichifukujin or the Seven Deities of Good Fortune, are drawn, they are inserted into the treasure ship with other decorations and finely balanced to finish. Drawing faces with their unique looks for the seven deities is the most difficult part. This hand drawing technique has been passed down for years since the Edo period. It is now practiced by Keiko Yoshida, head of Yoshida store, and her daughter, Kyoko.
Takarabune-kumade has brightly colored decorations of the seven deities, treasures and a sea bream. Although it is a rake with the tip of a straw festoon arranged to look more like a bow of a ship, it is created to have the look of a treasure ship. The rake, with its dominant red color, is referred to as a “red type” amulet. Takarabune-kumade is one of the most popular good luck charms in the Tori Fair of Ootori Shrine.
Kyosudare is a hand-woven bamboo blind, which is known as a luxury item. Today, most of these handmade blinds are made in Kyoto. It is a traditional furnishing item to create a cool and elegant atmosphere.
The origin of Kyosudare is Misu (literally meaning “Holy Blind”), an indispensable item at the Imperial Palace in the Heian period (794-1192). Since Misu were forbidden to be used for the homes of the townspeople, they used bamboo blinds with no edgings.
Bamboo blinds have been passed down through the ages as an art craft in Kyoto, where there are many shrines, temples, restaurants and other traditional places. After the Meiji period (1868-1912), the square angular bamboo rods became rounded and Zashiki-sudare (an interior blind), which had edges on all four sides, came to be known as Kyosudare and spread nationwide.
The reed blinds, whose materials come from the eastern shore of Lake Biwa, are thought to be especially of high-quality. Its practicality as a partition and sun shade and its charming design has made it a popular product, which has been exported to the West as well.
Eidai Kagura in the Sakaki Style is a traditional folk performing art handed down in the Ogame area in Tomiya Town, Miyagi Prefecture. This kagura has its origin in Aoso Kagura in the Sakaki Style handed down at Aoso Shrine in present-day Miyagino-ku in Sendai City. It is said that it was introduced to this area in 1848. Since then it has been dedicated to the deities at Kashima Atariwake Shrine, or popularly called Ogame Shrine, on the 3rd Sunday of April every year.
In this kagura dance, neither dialogues nor words are employed and everything is expressed only by movements. Dancers wear the Heian-period court dresses and hats and dance elegantly in Kyoto style. The repertoire includes 14 dances about sacred myths in Kojiki (Records of Ancient Matters) such as “Yamata no Orochi Taiji (Susanoo’s slayer of the eight-headed serpent)” and “Umisachihiko and Yamasachihiko.” The music ensemble is simply composed of Odaiko (a big drum), Kodaiko (a small drum) and a seven-holed Japanese flute.
There is a tradition that only the people living in the Ogame area are allowed to dance. Keeping up this tradition, the dance has been handed down to only 23 families in the area for 200 years until today. It really is a secret dance.
Enzu-no-wari is a traditional lunar new year festival held in Miyato, Matsushima of Miyagi Prefecture. The festival includes the 'tori-oi' in the Tsukishima area of Miyato. This is a festival to pray for a good harvest, good catch of fish, family safety and success in business. The Enzu-no-wari is designated as an important intangible cultural folk asset of Japan, since it is a valuable example of an historical festival held today.
Every year, for seven days from 11-16 January, boys from 2nd grade in elementary schools and 2nd grade in junior high schools of the Tsukishima area stay at a grotto under the Isuzu Shrine. The boys eat, sleep and go to school together, and live by themselves during this period.
On the night of the 14th, all the boys visit every house in the Tsukishima area. As they walk, they strike their pine staffs against the ground chanting 'enzu-no-wari, touryouba, kasurawatte, suotsukete, enzogashimasanagase' ('When you go after the vicious bird, crush its head, and send it away to the island of Ezo').
On the next day, they wake up early and make a fire from gathered wood, then chase the birds by calling 'Ho-i, Ho-i'. The boys roast their bellies with the smoke and pray for their good health that year.
By respectfully following tradition, these children will hand down a tradition to future generations.
The furoshiki (wrapping cloths) made in the Izumo, Matsue and Yonago areas of Shimane Prefecture are designated as traditional hometown handicraft.
Before the Meiji period, there were aizome indigo dyers across the nation, however, around 1917 (Meiji 40), chemical dyeing had become popular. By 1950, of the 59 tsutsugaki aizome dyers in Izumo, only 4 remained. Today, only one tsutsugaki aizome dyer remains in Nagata, which is recognized by the prefecture as an intangible cultural asset.
Tsutsugaki aizome with a family crest were used as trousseau items up untilthe Taisho period. Furoshiki wrapping cloths were also included in trousseaus.
Making the tsutsugaki aizome requires repetition in dyeing. During the dyeing process, the patterns on the aizome are protected by paste, which is later washed off in the Takase River.