NIPPON Kichi - 日本吉

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大野勇太郎 Oono Yuutarou Yuutarou Ohno

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Yuutaro Oono was born  in Tokyo in 1935. He is currently the CEO of Ohno Seimitsu Kogyo Co. Ltd.
     After graduating from Hokunoujima Technology High School, Mr. Oono was employed by an 8mm film company. In 1978, he started Ohno Seimitsu Kogyo Co. Ltd which specializes in making gears. He also dedicated himself to bringing back Karakuri dolls , which were popular in the Edo period, to modern times, using the advanced techniques of  modern  gear making.
     Mr. Oono first learned about Karakuri in an engineering book and he became passionately interested in them.  He had acquired a copy of “Karakuri-zui”, an illustrated compendium of mechanical devices written by Hanzou Hosokawa, a legendary karakuri artisan of the Edo period. Mr. Oono began studying the book intensely and, for the last 20 years, he has been reproducing the Karakuri dolls most loved by people in the Edo period such as “tea serving doll”, “shinan guruma” and the “Karakuri clock”.
     Each doll is made using about 80 different parts, not counting its face and clothing.  The dolls are created in such a way as to preserve traditional methods as much as possible. The fusion of the Edo period and modern times shows both beauty and functionality.
     Mr. Oono’s next project is to bring back “Yumihari Warawa, or “ Boy Archer”, which shows  a boy shooting an arrow at a target. His tremendous respect for  the Karakuri artists of the Edo period motivates him to try to recreate the Karakuri Dolls most beloved in that period, so that people can remember and appreciate their heritage.
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小鹿田焼民陶祭 Onta-yaki-mintousai Onta Folk Pottery Festival

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Onta Folk Pottery Festival is held on the 2nd weekend of October every year in the mountain village of Sarayama in Ono Motoemachi, Hita City, Oita Prefecture. Onta pottery is a high-fired ceramic ware made in this area for more than 300 years. It is said that the first kiln was built in 1705 by a potter from the Chikuzen province (present-day Fukuoka Prefecture). Today, the traditional techniques are handed down by ten potters, who are producing practical and simple but very beautiful ceramic ware. The potters in the village were designated as a holder group of a National Important Intangible Cultural Property in 1995.

Onta Folk Pottery Festival is held in appreciation for the development of Onta pottery as well as for the founder, ancestral potters and customers who favors their products. Plates, dishes, tea cups, flower vases and so on are displayed in the garden of each potter’s work place and sold on the spot. A part of their works are displayed at Ono Folk Cultural Museum “Kototoi no Sato.” As people can get Onta ware at the prices much lower than usual, the quiet village of Sarayama, where one can only hear the grinding sounds of the “karausu (a crusher that uses river flow for molding clay),” is bustled with tourist on the festival day.
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砥部焼 Tobe-yaki Tobe Pottery

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Tobe pottery is one of Ehime Prefecture’s traditional crafts. Its simple design in deep indigo on pure white rather thick porcelain of uncomplicated form is very impressive. Tobe pottery is said to have begun in the 6th or 7th century. Pottery started in this area such a long time ago because the mountainside of Tobe Basin was suited for building kilns and since surrounded by rich forests it was easy to get plenty of firewood. The indigo blue patterns of flowering grasses drawn with strong touches of brushes against simple white porcelain have been handed down from the predecessors. Its simple and plain design, which gives warm and familiar impression and its beautiful but practical shape are appreciated by many enthusiasts. Nowadays there are a lot of woman  potters in Tobe area and the works adopting new materials and modern designs also attract people’s attention.
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