Posts in Category: blog

    2017/10/23
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The Japanese folk art movement, or mingei, was originally developed in 1920s and mainly led by a Japanese philosopher Soetsu Yanagi (1889-1961).

It was only half a century since Japan opened up the county, and like other Japanese people at that era, he and his friends appreciated Western art very much. They firstly tried to collect Western art pieces and to open a museum to exhibit them. However, after Great Kanto Earthquake hit Tokyo in 1923, he moved to Kyoto, and while he travelled around Japan and Korea, he discovered true beauty in everyday items, such as ceramics, textile and woodwork, created by unknown local craftsmen.

He was fascinated with folk art and started collecting such items. Together with potter Kanjiro Kawai, Shoji Read More

    2017/2/14
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koi travel, origami

In Japan, origami is something for pleasure and also something praying for. Origami became popular in Edo period and it was incorporating in kindergarten education in the Meiji Period (1868 to 1912). It is now taught in a handicraft and drawing class at elementary school. Generally, it is very common for mothers to teach children how to make cranes and other various figures by origami at home. Origami is a very well known leisure activity and always loved by Japanese people.

Origami, especially crane shaped origami has a special meaning. “Senbazuru” is a string of thousand folded paper cranes. It is usually sent to a patient as a prayer for recovery from illness. The crane is one of the symbols of Read More

    2017/2/7
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koi travel, calligraphy

In 2014, 3 types of Japanese Washi papers, Sekishubanshi (石州半紙), Honminoshi (本美濃紙) and Hosokawashi (細川紙) were registered as Intangible Cultural Heritage by UNESCO.

Washi is Japanese traditional handmade paper which is designated as one of the intangible cultural assets. Washi has a long history in Japan. The Shosoin (National Treasure House) in Nara has a 1200-year-old book in which every page is cut from a different washi. As washi is generally long-lasting and strong, it is used for official documents, important papers and money. In Edo period (1603-1868), production volume of washi paper has been increased and origami for entertainment became more familiar to adults first of all and then children.

(Yoko)

Became interested in Read More

    2017/1/25
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ぽち袋

The techniques used in gift wrapping eventually gave rise to the sophisticated craft “origami”. Wrapping gifts has been a very common custom in Japan since Kamakura Period (1185 to 1333). When money or goods are handed, they are usually wrapped in paper or put in an envelope. It is etiquette to put money in an envelope when it is personally handed to someone. In case of handing money without wrapping in a paper or putting in an envelope, Japanese people do not forget to add the comments “sorry to be rude” or “sorry that my money is naked (meaning money is not wrapped)” In these days, wrapping has been simplified as it is realised that saving paper is needed. However, for Read More

    2017/1/20
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封筒や熨斗の写真

What comes to your mind when you hear the word “ORIGAMI”? Folded paper cranes? Colourful Washi paper? Origami is the traditional Japanese art of folding a sheet of paper into various shapes such as birds, animals and many other things without using scissors or glue. For centuries, origami has been a favourite leisure activity for people throughout Japan.

Ceremonial origami and entertainment origami

Origami can be categorised into two parts, ceremonial origami which is used in the ritual and the other is entertainment origami. The folding of paper firstly developed as decorations related to religion and ceremonies. In Kamakura Period (1185 to 1333), it becomes a custom to exchange gifts among samurai warriors. These gifts are wrapped with a paper or offered with a Read More

    2016/4/30
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koi travel, tea ceremony

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Tea ceremony was developed as a social activity among high-class men. They gathered and discussed various topics with a course of meal and tea. Senrikyu established that gathering as an ceremonial art in 16th century, having defined the manner and encouraged participants to appreciate the decoration and equipment used during the ceremony. Tea ceremony since 17th century functioned like salons in France in 18-19th century where people exchanged cultural and intellectual knowledge.

Today, tea ceremony is regarded one of the most important art in Japan because it is a comprehensive art that forms bases of Japanese art. Many other arts like room decorations, flower arrangements, calligraphy, tea related equipment, kaiseki dishes and sweets were invented or improved as tea ceremony was developed. Read More

    2016/4/5
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sakura

You may be surprised to hear that all sakura, cherry trees in Japan are clones grafted from a single tree.

During end of March and beginning of April is the cherry blossom season when tourists and locals rush to enjoy the beautiful but short-lived pale pink flowers. It is the type of sakura called Somei Yoshino that we see almost everywhere in Japan and that Japan Meteorological Agency gives forecast when it fully blooms in major cities. Somei Yoshino blooms at same timing under the same condition as they all have same genes. It is said that Somei Yoshino was first created at Somei village in Tokyo from Edohigan and Oshimazakura breeds in the late 19th century. By that time, enjoying cherry blossoms Read More

    2016/2/29
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koicha

koicha, thick green tea

usucha

usucha, thin green tea

Today, Japanese regard tea ceremony as a representative example of traditional Japanese culture. The full ceremony takes around four hours and it is composed with the first greeting, a course meal called kaiseki, sweet, sake (Japanese rice wine), short break to enjoy walking in the garden, thick green tea (koi-cha; three times thicker than normal matcha and its texture reminds us of potage soup), thin green tea (usu-cha; formed matcha green tea that we often see), appreciating decoration and equipment and the last greetung. There are so many rules to follow about behaviors and fashion, which are slightly Read More

    2016/1/31
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You may have tried green tea or matcha at Japanese café or somewhere else. Yes, it is the vivid green color tea with creamy forms on the surface. It is bitter and contains caffeine, a bit stronger than black tea. In order to enjoy matcha, put matcha powder, which is crushed green tea leaves, in tea bowl and pour hot water (approximately 85℃) in it. Then stir it quickly by using special bamboo-made whisk until smooth form covers the surface of the bowl.

Green tea was brought from China by Buddhist monks around 8th century. It was taken only among aristocracies and was regarded as medicine. It is said drinking match spread widely by late 12th century with the spread of Buddhism Read More

    2015/11/29
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joururi

bunraku; puppet play

As written in the previous post, Japan kept national isolation policy for more than 250 years. It refrained from developing the democracy and helped to keep feudal system with strict social classes. On the other hand, the long period without large wars helped make the society stable and increase the national population from approximately 12million to 30million during that period.

During Edo period, Japan developed many unique crafts and culture which are now regarded as “traditional”. Art pieces such as ukiyoe (woodblock prints), chrysanthemum doll, variety of potteries and art performances such as kabuki (a traditional stage drama performed exclusively by men with songs and music), bunraku (a classical puppet play performed with narrative ballads) and Read More