Tanabata Edoro Matsuri is a festival held in Yuzawa City, Akita Pref. in August every year. A lot of decorative strips and paperwork are attached to thick bamboo poles and boxes with pretty ladies painted on them are lit up at night. The festival dates back to the middle of the Edo period (around 1700), when a princess of Takatsukasa family, a court noble in Kyoto, married into Satake Yoshiyasu, the 5th head of the Stake Nanke clan, one of the branch family of the Akita domain lord. Gripped by homesickness, the princess wrote her nostalgic feelings on strips and put them on a bamboo pole. Accordingly the townspeople who heard of the princess’s grief began to display strips and streamers on the bamboo poles and prayed that she might get over the grief. After the Meiji period (1868-1912), the present lantern boxes were began to be displayed on the streets. The boxes are also displayed in the city hall all through the year. A lot of visitors come to enjoy this fantastic summer festival held to the memory of the princess.
Uesugi Snow Lantern Festival is held annually in Yonezawa, Yamagata Prefecture. 300 lanterns and 2000 bonbori lanterns, all of which are made of snow, are lined across Matsugasaki Park on the 2nd Saturday and Sunday of February.
The sight of the candles flickering in the wind creates a magical beauty, inviting visitors into a surreal fairytale-like world. An immense snow monument built for soothing the souls of those who were never able to return to their hometown alive during the World War II, stands on top of the Hill Of Requiem located in the center of the park. Throughout the night, citizens come to light candles in memory of the dead.
A snow-viewing party is held at the neighboring Uesugi Kinenkan hall, where the local cuisine can be enjoyed. It is a great luxury to toast and feast on the local sake and cuisine while quietly viewing the flickering snow lanterns outside.
The Lantern Float in the Hirose River is a representative summer event held during the season of Bon in August at the riverside between the Miyazawa Bridge and the Hirose Bridge over the Hirose River in Sendai City, Miyagi Prefecture.
The origin of this event dates back about 250 years, when the Tohoku region suffered from cold weathers and bad harvests and hundreds of thousands of people were starving. To rescue those starving people, the Sendai domain set up the relief center near the Hirose Bridge. Later, people began to float paper lanterns on the river to appease the souls of the victims.
The lantern float has been handed down for 250 years since then. After World War II, the fireworks display began to be held at the same time and it became a biggest summer event of the city. Although it was discontinued for a short time, it was revived in 1990. After a variety of events including an outdoor concert, fireworks are shot up over the lanterns afloat on the river surface. The festival ends with the illumination of the 130-meter wide Niagara Falls fireworks.
Bunaco is a technique where rolls of thinly sliced wood from a Japanese beech (‘buna’) are coiled, and then pushed by hand little by little to create solid geometric shapes. The buna tree, which made up much of the original forests of Japan, was used to create boxes for exporting apples before the development of the ‘bunaco technique’. However, as the bunaco technique developed, the buna began to be used in many other ways, such as for dishes and lighting instruments. The lamp above is actually two bunaco lights shaped like trumpets, attached together by a roll of buna tape. This lighting instrument is completely symmetrical at the point where the red beam of light is seen. What is unique about this bunaco lamp is the red light that delicately shines out from the middle part. This is because the central part of this lamp has fewer layers, making it thinner than the other portions of the lamp, and thus allowing the light to break through. The lamp was designed for a club called Lounge O. Perfect for interiors with dim lighting, this lamp releases magical and enchanting beams of light that give a room a unique feel. There are holes on the top and bottom of this lamp to release heat, and the bunaco can be detached from the metal base when changing the light bulb.
Size W×D×H (mm)400×400×1800
Produced by: Ubushina,Yudai Tachikawa
These illumination lamps can be seen at the HOTEL CLASKA, in Meguro district, Tokyo. The ceiling lamp on the left-hand side is made of tin. The design emphasizes the characteristics of tin, transforming it into a drum shape, and using it as a chandelier. Tin is one of the most stable of metals, and because the chandelier is 100% tin, it will not change color. Moreover, the inside of the chandelier gives out a clear luminous color. The lamp on the right-hand side creates a strange impression, because the light reflected by the brass plate seems to be floating. Brass is formed by the synthesis of copper and zinc. The color, the degree of hardness and the durability of the brass changes with the proportion of zinc added to it.
■ HOTEL CLASKA tin chandelier (left) ・ Wire foil lacquering ■ Illumination lamp (right) ・ Brass, glass, lighting apparatus ・ Size W×D×H (mm) 135mm×135mm×300mm ・ Designed (both) by Intentionars
Sumiyoshi Lighthouse stands on Funamachi Port site in Ogaki City, Gifu Prefecture. Ogaki used to be an important commercial port during the Edo period. In the old days, boats going down the Suimon River to Kuwana would dock in this port. The lighthouse is said to have been built during the Genroku period (1688-1704).
Ogaki is known for the place that Matsuo Basho concluded his journey of the Narrow Road to a Far Province. Having traveled 2,400 km from Fukagawa in Edo in 140 days, Basho aged 46 embarked from this port for Kuwana and headed for Ise Shrine. What kinds of memories recurred to his mind? He recited: “Sadly, I part from you / Like a clam torn from its shell / I go, the autumn too.”
An old-fashioned boat placed under the lighthouse as well as the vermillion bridge tells us the atmosphere of the days when Basho departed from the port. The riverside is a famous cherry blossom viewing spot today. The arch made of cherry blossoms entertains the viewers in the blooming season.
This brass lamp is used in the lobby of the Hotel Claska in Meguro, Tokyo. Its design makes good use of light reflected from the brass.
This same form is also used to produce other pendent lighting and wall-mounted lighting fixtures at the hotel.
For the craftsmen, the idea of shipping their products without final coloring was like selling their products naked. There was a risk that small pinholes made by air or dust within the metal would show. But the casting techniques they used overcame such a risk.
It is a great challenge for craftsmen to try something that they would never have thought possible or to rethink their established works. But through projects like this, craftsmen could create something new that provided a stimulus to old designs.
■ＨＯＴＥＬ ＣＬＡＳＫＡ brass lamp
* Namagata casting
* brushed finish using a potter's wheel
*designed by Intentionallies
■produced by Ubushina, Yudai Tachikawa
Namahage Sedo Festival is held at Shinzan Shrine in Oga City, Akita Pref. in February every year. The festival is carried out as a tourist event that combines the Sedo Festival, which is the ceremony of the shrine, and Namahage, which is a folk festival. At Sedo Festival, a big rice cake is toasted on the Sedo fire in the precinct and dedicated to the god of Mt. Shinzan in the hope of rich harvest and safe navigation. At the same time, Shinto rites of Yudate Shinji (the offering of boiling water ) called Yuno-mai (boiling water dance) and Chinkama-sai festival (a ceremony of pouring the boiling water) are carried out to calm the rough sea. After that a group of Namahage, who were inspired souls at the shrine returns to the mountain, and then come down to the villages looking for evil children. There Namahage rampage about and show gallant dancing to the rhythms of Namahage-daiko drums and returns to the mountain again to complete the ritual rites. The ogres dancing wildly together with burning fire and fallen snow in the winter mountain make the fantastic scene.