NIPPON Kichi - 日本吉

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敷居 Shikii Shikii

Jp En

Shikii is a long piece of timber laid between pillars, which functions as a threshold with grooves for sliding doors and shoji screens.
While shikii means the bottom part of the threshold, the upper part is called “kamoi”. They are used together as a pair.
The word, shikii, is derived from an ancient word, shikimi. A timber is carved to create grooves or to be fitted with a rail for shoji screens or fusuma sliding doors that partition off rooms.  For other sliding doors used for front and back entrances or windows, various methods are used to ensure smoother sliding.
The strength and smooth sliding surface is key to choosing materials, and the pine tree is generally used for shikii. Japanese hemlock, cherry tree and hinoki cypress tree are also favorably used.
In recent years, as buildings become more “barrier free”, in order to prevent disabled people and senior citizens from tripping on shikii, an increasing number of residences are eliminating difference in levels in a house by taking such measures as burying shikii under the floor.
Shikii create a sense of boundaries within space which is a very elemental concept of Japanese traditional architecture.
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京唐紙 Kyou-karakami Kyokarakami

Jp En

Karakami is the woodblock-printed paper mainly used for Japanese sliding doors. Karakami made in Kyoto is called Kyokarakami. The origin of Karakami, which literally means “Chinese paper,” dates back to the Heian period (794-1192), when Japanese craftsmen in Kyoto began to make paper by modeling after the paper brought from China. Karakami was first used to write poems on it and then in the later periods it came to be used for Japanese sliding doors.

Karakami greatly developed in the middle of the Edo Period (1603-1868). In the book illustrations depicting craftsmen of this time, drawn in 1685 by Hishikawa Moronobu, a Kyokarakami craftsman working in his studio is included.

Kyokarakami is used for sliding doors at historical sites such as Katsura Detached Palace and temples, Japanese tea house and other traditional places. However, there is only one Kyokarakami producing studio in Kyoto today. There, more than 600 woodblock patterns made in the 17th century, each of which is elaborately hand-carved, are preserved and used according to the purpose of use.

The pigments are mixed with mica dust and an adhesive to create paint. The paint is brushed onto a fine mesh sieve covered with gauze and applied on the woodblock pattern by gently patting the sieve. The Washi paper is then pressed down with a gentle sweep of the hands and then carefully peeled away.

Mica dust in the pigments creates gentle and graceful gloss. It is exquisitely beautiful when the patterns on the paper twinkle softly along with flickering flames of a candle.
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引手 Hikite Hikite

Jp En

Hikite is a door pull added to sliding doors to help open and close them with a pulling motion. Wood door pulls were common in ancient periods but in general door pulls were made of metal. Hikite is set in a sliding door so that it does not hit or scuff the other sliding door when the door is pulled open.

The original form of a sliding door first appeared in the 8th to 9th centuries, when the door had no pulls and people held the frame of the door to open and close it. A door pull appeared in the 13th century during the Kamakura period. Then in Azuchi-Momoyama period (1568-1598), when the Japanese tea ceremony was established, elaborate designs were given to sliding doors and door pulls. A door pull became an important element of interior decoration and elaborately decorated door pulls were made during this period.

Today, with the trend of new understanding of Japanese traditional culture, a Japanese-styled room has also attracted attention of young people and various kinds of door pulls are being made. Those include traditional ones with family crests, boat-shaped, and round ones. There are even white and square pulls in modern design, animal-shaped, and the ones made of cloisonné.
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旧杉山家住宅 Kyuu-sugiyamake-jyuutaku Former Residence of Sugiyama Family

Jp En

This is a designated National Important Cultural Property located in Tondabayashi-cho, Tondabayashi City, Osaka Pref. The Sugiyama family was one of the old families that founded and administered the town in the Edo period (1603-1868). The family carried on sake brewery business at this house from the Edo period to the Meiji period (1868-1912). At its peak, there were over 70 employees working for them.
The interior part of the house is in good a state of preservation. The scrolls picture of an old pine tree hung in the large alcove and the sliding door paintings were all painted by the Kano School painters, from which we can imagine the prosperity the family enjoyed. This house is thought to be the oldest existing tradesmen’s house in Japan.
It is also known as the birthplace of Tsuyuko Isonokami, a poet of Myojo School in the Meiji period. Her personal memento, letters and the description panel are displayed.
The former residence of the Sugiyama family is a historically important place that tells us the life style of townspeople in the near modern ages.
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花鳥画 Kachou-ga Flower Bird Painting

Jp En

Flower Bird Painting is a general term for East Asian paintings featuring flowers, birds and insects. this category forms one of three major painting subjects, the others being figures and landscape ('mountain-water').
Flower Bird Painting became an established genre in the Tang Dynasty in China, and reached heights of excellence in the Northern Song Dynasty.
In the Heian period, ink painting was introduced to Japan and by the Edo period the art of Flower Bird Painting had spread among samurai as pictures painted on folding screens and sliding paper fusuma doors at temples, shrines and castles. After that, because of the principles of civilian government, they also became popular among commoners.
In China, realistic painting was popular but in Japan, flowers and birds of the four seasons were painted more abstractly, more like painted haiku poems.
Flower Bird Painting is very popular not only in Japan but in China, Korea and elsewhere in the world!
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名古屋城 Nagoya-jyou Nagoya Castle

Jp En

Nagoya Castle, in Nagoya, Aichi Prefecture, was established by Tokugawa Ieyasu with the help of his daimyo, such as Maeda, Kato, Fukushima, Hosokawa and Kuroda.

It took Ieyasu 3 years to complete. It was built between Edo and Osaka because it was to control the Edo government and also to prepare for attacks from the western side. For 250 years, it was the residence of the Tokugawa family of Owari.

Nagoya Castle was built based on a design by Kato Kiyomasa, which was in the castle keep style. It has a 'shachihoko' on the roof. To enter the 5-layered large castle keep, one must first enter the small castle keep.

Paintings of the castle, by artists such as Kano Teishin, are still preserved. Most of them are designated as important national cultural assets.
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華蔵寺 Kezou-ji Kezo Temple

Jp En

Kezo Temple is located in Kira-cho, Hazu-gun, Aichi Prefecture.

Kezo Temple belongs to the Shingon Buddhist sect. The temple has a history of 1600 years and it is believed that Kira Yoshisada established it for the Kira family. There is a magnificent garden behind the main building. In addition, the temple is the site of the grave of Kira Kozunosuke Yoshihisa, who appears in the 'Chuingura'.

Also in the main building are 44 pictures of 'The Beauty of Nature' drawn by Ikeno Taiga. Usually the pictures may not be viewed, except in the New Year, when they are displayed.

A wooden statue created by Kira Kozunosuke Yoshihisa, is designated as cultural asset of the prefecture. Kira Yoshihara is commemorated every year on the 4th December.
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百人一首 Hyakunin-issyu 'Hyakunin-isshu'

Jp En

The 'Hyakunin-isshu' is a compilation of 100 exceptional poems from 100 famous poets, each individually chosen in chronological order.

The compilation was made by Sadaie Fujiwara, a poet of the Kamakura period, and the poems were carefully selected from the 'Kokinshu' and 'Shin-Kokinshu'.

The making of the compilation first started when Sadaie was requested to choose a poem to put on the fusuma door of Rensho Utsunomiya's villa, the Ogura-sanso, in Sagano, Kyoto. The compilation was first named the 'Ogura-sanso-shikishi-waka' or 'Sagasanso-shikishi-waka', but it is most famously known as 'Ogura-hyakunin-isshu'.

After the completion of the 'Ogura-hyakunin-isshu', many other private compilations of 100 poems, each from a different poet, followed. These include the 'Gosen-hyakunin-isshu', 'Genji-hyakunin-isshu', and 'Nyobo-hyakunin-isshu'. Additionally, there is a game called 'utakaruta', which is based on the 'Ogura-hyakunin-isshu'. This 'utakaruta' game started during the mid-Edo period and continues even now.
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