Ms. Uchiyama, who makes Kimono gown was coordinator of this event and played “Watering Girl” role !
There was a male Shitate-ya (仕立て屋), who is very rare nowadays.
His live sewing can be seen at YouTube. http://www.youtube.com/user/KimoKame
Male Kimono maker
The house was decorated with several Kimonos and fabrics.
Although, the events finished and there were no live exhibition of sewing now, the place is very nice to visit.
It is only 400 Yen to enter the Museum.
If you have a chance to visit the suburb of Tokyo, why don’ t you try ?
May 5 is a children’s day(‘kogomo no hi’), and the day was originally called ‘Tango no Sekku(端午の節句）’ in Japan. Sekku means a season’s festival (there are five sekku per year). Tango no Sekku marks the beginning of summer or the rainy season. Tan means “edge” or “first” and go means “noon”. Until recently, Tango no Sekku was known as Boy’s Day while Girls’ Day (Hinamatsuri) was celebrated on March 3.
During this season, you will see carp streamers fluttering in the wind and the ornaments such as armors and helmets decorated at the alcove of houses. At this point we would like to introduce you to the meaning and origins of Tango-no Sekku (端午の節句) and how it is celebrated in the present day.
Although it is not known precisely when this day started to be celebrated, it was probably during the reign of the Empress Suiko (593–628 A.D.). In Japan, Tango no Sekku was assigned to the fifth day of the fifth month after the Nara period.
During the Kamakura Period (1192-1333), Samurai family controlled Japan. The Japanese word “shobu” means to honor military power or bravery. And the “calamus” iris decorations that were used as talismans of good luck during the “Tango no Sekku” ceremony are also called “shobu”. So “Tango no Sekku” was changed to “Shobu no Sekku” ( a day for honoring power and bravery ) by the Samurai. Armors and helmets, which were used for protection in battle, began to be displayed as celebratory decorations.
In the Edo Period (1600-1868), the Tokugawa shogun settled May 5th as one of the important Sekku. Whenever a boy baby was born to the shogun, banners and flags were flown at the front entrance of the palace to celebrate the event. This custom soon spread among the general public. People were proud to act in the same way as the shogun and designed “koinobori”, carp streamers.
The price of the doll varies from several thousand to fifteen million yen, depending on the size, the number of items, and the name of an artist. In many cases, a family and relatives dine together for a boy’s festival. Many young parents live in apartments which have little space for a large gorgeous doll. It is often said they put the doll in the closet and never let it out. In spite of this, parents would prepare dishes to please children, or take their children out for a recreation on the holiday.
Do you have a children’s day in your country ? and how do you cerebrate it ?
Do you like to design your nail as one of your favorite anime characters ? And what about nails with different character designs on each nail? According to the recent online survey, anime design nail art is becoming more and more popular by the day.
Expressing yourself through gel and 3-D acrylic nail art has become a really big thing right now. Also, the popularity of nail art stickers means anyone can get into nail art really easily. The demand for personalized anime character design nail, among both celebrities and ordinary people, seems to continue to increase.
There are many more designs you can check and some tutorial videos if you want to try by yourself.
There is even specialist shop in Akihabara, the famous hub for all things manga and anime. The nail artist will design whatever images you bring. Which anime character is your favorite ?
We see various technologies advancing everyday everywhere.
Cooking industry is not the exception.
When eating at Japanese restaurant namend “Hanasaka-Jisan” in Shibuya, Tokyo, we were surprised to find vegetables rapped with “Plastic” looking stuff put directly on the hot plate !
This is called CARTA FATA, invented in cooperation with an Italian chef, Fabio Tachella. This is heat-resistent until 230℃, and can be used for grill, steaming, boiling, frying in the oil, and freezing. The string that ties around the neck is made of silicon.
This amazing cooking technology have enabled cooks make more creative and new dishes that did not exist in the past !
Foodstuffs can be cooked by their own moisture and fat so that they will be healthy without adding other ingredients. What is good above all is it keeps juice and flavor of the food or extracts even better.
Technologies that make people lives better and happier are very much welcomed, aren’t they ?
Mitaka Forest Ghibli Museum is a museum featuring the Japanese anime work of Studio Ghibli.
Hayao Miyazaki designed the museum himself, using drawn storyboards similar to the ones he makes for his films. The design was influenced by European architecture, such as the hilltop village of Calcata in Italy. Miyazaki’s aim was to make the building itself part of the exhibit
Jusaburo Tsujimura is one of most authentic doll artists in Japan. Most of his dolls are traditional Japanese in Kimono, but he also makes some western style dolles. They are so sultry as if they are really alive.
There is “Jusaburo” museum shop in Nihonbashi, Tokyo.
You can learn doll making there as well. If you have any chances to visit Tokyo, it is one of the places worth to take a look at.
By the way, Jusaburo is 80 years old men still very active and energetic ! He was born in 1933. Today one of Japan’s finest doll-makers, he actively expands the scope of his art into areas such as costume design, direction, and script writing for stage and film. His performances have received high acclaim including those in America, Europe and Hong Kong.
The Japanese tend to value small things over big. This way of thinking evolved over thousands of years. It has both practical and religious roots. Also making miniature things are well aware to prove their skills.
For example, Sony created Walkman in 1979 which was less than half size of its competition at that time using their ability to miniaturise designs.
This time is the book that your reading glass might not help you with this one.
Japanese publisherm Toppan Printing Co. who have been making micro books since 1964, created the smallest ever printed book, with pages measuring 0.75 millimetres (0.03 inches) which are impossible to read with the naked eye.
Toppan Printing said letters just 0.01 mm wide were created using the same technology as money printers use to prevent forgery. has created the 22-page micro-book, entitled Shiki no Kusabana (flowers of seasons), contains names and monochrome illustrations of Japanese flowers such as the cherry and the plum.
The seasonal flower micro-book is currently exhibited at Toppan’s Printing Museum in Tokyo’s Bunkyo ward. The book, together with magnifying glass and enlarged copy, sells for ¥29,400 (about $300) at museum shop. This may be a good souvenir from Tokyo don’t you think ?
March 3rd is Hina Matsuri, Japan’s annual girls day festival. As part of the festivities, girls are given a set of ornamental dolls, representing the Emperor, Empress, attendants, and musicians in traditional court dress of the Heian period.
Th dolls are put on display from February through March 3 — a ritual believed to bring about good health for the girls. The dolls, which are sometimes made of materials as delicate as paper and clay, are believed to ward off evil and are usually kept within the family for generations.
There is a very good opportunity to see very best Hina Dolls at Mitsui Memorial Museum right now, Mitsui Memorial Museum is holding the exhition “Hina Matsuri Dolls from the Mitsui Family Collection” returns this year to showcase a number of Girls Day Festival ornamental dolls, from February 7 till April 7 this year.
The highlight of the show is a complete set of dolls, which is being displayed on a huge three-meter-wide, tiered platform. The dolls and accessories, such as miniature furniture, all belonged to women in the Mitsui family — including Motoko (1869-1946), Toshiko (1901-1976), and Okiko (1900-1980) — who have been passing them down for generations.
If you are in Tokyo around this period, it is nice to visit there.
Do you like Sushi roll, which is wrapped by seaweed ? Traditional Sushi roll is wrapped by a black squired seaweed. Have you ever seen sushi roll wrapped by design seaweed ?
These Design Nori (seaweed) carefully crafted into intricate and beautiful designs, take the sushi experience to the next level.
These Design Nori developed by I&S BBDO, Tokyo won the Best of Show Design Lotos at Adfest in Thailand for their Umino Seaweed designs. The designs merge traditional Japanese pattern design with the latest cutting technology. The five designs: Sakura (Cherry Blossoms), Mizutama (Water Drops), Asanoha (Hemp), Kikkou (Turtle Seashell), Kumikkou (Tortoise Shell) were developed to help the North East Japan company to rebuild itself after the 2011 tsunami. This area provides the seaweed which is thick, has luster, and is very delicious. It doesn’t stick and it enhances other ingredients. Thin seaweed is too weak to be used for Design Nori.
The creator of this Design Nori said that Japanese people are eating less seaweed than before and he wanted to do something about the decline in demand, make some waves in a positive way. He wanted people to know how interesting and appealing seaweed is, not to mention delicious.
It’s refreshing that such amazing technology and creativity wasn’t marred by some tacky logo branding. Instead, the designs conveyed a classic brand heritage and positive hope for the future. The designers carved various Japanese classic patterns that signify happiness and long-life right into the Nori.
Please visit their Facebook to get more information.
Kanzashi, which is a hair ornaments in traditional Japanese hir styles, came into widely use during the Edo period (1700s), when artisans in Edo (present-day Tokyo) acquired the techniques of making Hana Kanzashi in Kyoto. These kanzashi are created from squares of thin silk fabric by a technique called “tsumami-zaiku.” Each square is multiply folded and combined with another to create patterns of flowers and birds.
There is a video showing how tsumami zaiku kanzashi is made.
kanzashi came to be used as hairpins to put hair together with the growing aesthetic sense of women. What is more, kanzashi came to have a different aspect with the change. Other than the tool to put hair together, kanzashi became complete accessories to decorate the hair. It is said that the change of kanzashi made more variations of women’s hairdos.
At the present time, Edo tsumami kanzashi are popular hair ornaments worn at some formal occasions like New Year’s Day, coming-of-age ceremonies, and so on.The coming of age is Jan. 14 this year and many Japanese women wear Kimono to attend the ceremony. We see beautiful kanzashi that decorate the hair on such occasions.
These skilfully hand crafted flowers are made of Japanese Chirimen, silk and fine quality cotton. Our kimokame artisan, Rumi Tsuchihashi made them by Tsumami Zaiku technique. This eye-catching accessories are good for your western fashion.
Origami is the traditional Japanese art of paper holding, which started in the 17th century. ‘Ori’ means ‘holding’ and ‘gami’ means paper. The goal of this art is to transform a flat sheet of paper into a finished sculpture through folding and sculpting techniques, and as such the use of cuts or glue are not considered to be origami. Paper cutting and gluing is usually considered Kirigami.
The best known origami model is probably the Japanese paper crane. In general, these designs begin with a square sheet of paper whose sides may be different colors or prints.
Modern origami is a unique sculptural art. Each origami design must be individually folded; there is no mass-production process.
Satoshi Kamiya, 30 year old, is among the most advance origami master in the world. All his works are only single sheet of square paper, and it can’t be cut or glued.
There is a video showing how he make his amazing works. Simply, Amazing, and it worth watching. So check this video.
It is already in December. At the end of Year, there are many fairs in temples throughout Japan. My favorite one is Hagoita-ichi (Battledore Fair) in Asakusa and will be held in Sensou-ji Temple, Asakusa(Tokyo) from Dec. 17th to 19th this year.
The hagoita originated in China and was brought over to Japan during the Muromachi period(14 – 16th century). Hagoita were used as decorative battledores or presented as New Year gifts. Hagoita were believed to repel evil, and had connotations of healthy growth.
In the late Edo period(19th century), a Chinese technique called ‘oshi’ was first used for hagoita. A design is made, then cardboard is tacked against a board, which is covered with cloth to give a 3-d effect.
At that time, like ukiyo-e, hagoita featured similar designs with portraits of Kabuki actors being very popular. At the annual year-end fairs in Edo, many people bought hagoita with portraits of popular actors. Today, beautiful hagoita make a popular gift as a traditional Tokyo handicraft to bring luck at New Year.
Hagoita-ichi is a traditional fair dating back to the Edo Period, but it was apparently only after World War II that the name Hagoita-Ichi became popular. Many visitors come each year. The Hagoita-ichi is an annual fair held in its precincts at the end of the year. Near the Hondo or main hall of Senso-ji Temple, some 50 open-air stalls selling hagoita (battledores), shuttlecocks, kites and other New Year decorations stand huddled together, and numerous people gather here from all over the country. The market was full of “decorations” for new years that bring good luck for the coming year.
Additionally, at the Hagoitaichi, hagoita with pictures of the people who received the most attention during the year, are notable and are often taken up by the media. There are various hagoita, so find your favorite one!
Tenugui is dyed cotton cloth. Japanese Tenugui possesses a very long history. Its origin is thought to go as far back as ancient Kofun era. In the Edo period (1592 – 1868) cotton began to be cultivated in various parts of Japan and TENUGUI became a necessary item for living. There are no rules in the way of using Tenugui. It can be used in a variety of ways as wiping cloth, headband, place mats or centerpieces, hand towel, wrapping cloth, interior decoration, or souvenir. Some are used exclusively for the traditional dancing.
For using as place mats or centerpieces
For using as room’s decorations
This motif of Todaya’s tenugui is 16 different usages of tenugui, especially in the kitchen and in play scenes.
In the Todaya shop, Tenugui makers in Nihonbashi, Tokyo, Tenugui is used as room’s decoration showing the feeling of the season.
Tenugui is very popular for long in Japan. You may have more useful ways of tenugui. First please check out below for our selections and get one and enjoy creating new idea of using Tenugui.
Kimokame.com is happy to announce that we have started to sell Todaya’s Chusen dyeing Tenugui.
Todaya has stared business in 1872 in the Nihonbashi, Tokyo. In 1872, everyone would go to the public bath bringing his or her Tenugui as towel. Everybody used Tenugui to dry hands, wipe off sweat, or cover the desired part of a body or an object. A wornout Tenugui would be recycled into a rag for house-cleaning, or into abandage to cover a wound. In short, Tenugui played an important role in Japanese daily life.
As of today, the virtue of Tenugui that makes it far smarter than a simply printed fabric is that, made with a dyeing technique called Chusen.
Firstly in Chusen, a technique called Sashiwake is employed. Whereas most dyeing procsses utilize a monochrome stencil, Chusen enjoys a multi-color stencil, enabling the simultaneous use of several dyes. Another significant technique in Chesen is called Bokashi. Unlike Sashiwake, no preventive paste is necessary since color gradations and shadings, the particular effects produced by the technique, rather encourage a blending of colors.
Secondly, Tenugui is always reversible, with patterns appearing both on front and reverse side. To Japanese, the exposure of a reverse side has always been undesirable. This obsession is reflected in Katazome, a dyeing method in which the application of a paste resist (Kataoki), is repeated twice both on front and reverse side. Chusen, on the other side, which enables the simultaneous application of a paste resist on both sides, requires only one Kataoki. The latter method is also superior in the infiltration of dyes, coloring down to the fiber core by a compressor suction, leaving no trace of which is the front and which the reverse side.
Thirdly, the Chusen stencil is large in size compared to the conventional one, allowing spatial freedom for designs and patterns. For easy handling, the stencil is studded onto the wooden frame upon the application of a paste resist.
A combination of carefully selected colors and materials yields irressistible elegance, and int ehis way, there is nothing that exceeds Chusen-Processes Tenugui.
If you are interested in Chusen dyeing Tenugui, please check out here.
If you get a chance to visit Japan, where do you want to go?
As far as we know, many foreign tourists would answer “Tsukiji,” ”Shibuya,” ”Asakusa,” and so on. All of these spots in Tokyo are popular among tourists. They would also answer, “Kyoto” or “Nara,” where many historical shrines and temples are located. Most Japan guidebooks for foreigners focus on Tokyo and Kyoto, so these answers are only natural.
Do you know how many prefectures there are in Japan? Japan is a small country, but it has, surprisingly, 47 prefectures. If you are interested in those prefectures, you can get useful information just by going to shops in Tokyo. These shops are called “Antenna Shop, run by a number of Japan’s prefectures, cities and regions as a means to introduce and market themselves, as well as to acquire a sense of consumer trends and tastes outside their own borders.
There are about sixty of these shops in Tokyo—the most advantageous location from which to promote regional specialties—and each presents a friendly introduction to a prefecture or region in Japan. Antenna shops encourage travel and tourism, and promote unique food specialties as well as new ideas and products using traditional ingredients.
In a recent survey of Tokyoites the main reason why they go to antenna shops is to pick up regional food products. The next popular answer was that it was interesting to explore antenna shops followed by picking up brochures for future trips to that prefecture. The other big answer was that people were longing for foods and products from their hometown so came to antenna shops to pick these up.
Some antenna shops also house restaurants: for example, one of the Yamagata Prefecture shops features a popular restaurant specializing in Italian cuisine made with local produce, overseen by a well-known Yamagata chef.
After getting the real taste of a place, customers may be tempted to buy special souvenirs of that locale to round out their “out-of-Tokyo experience.” Traditional local crafts are always popular, such as the handmade lacquerware sold at the Ishikawa Prefecture store, or the lovely kyo-sensu (fans) sold at the Kyoto store which is in front of Tokyo Station. Sometimes, maikos are coming to Tokyo from Kyoto and show their dance performance at Kyoto antenna shop. They also have a facebook page.
Even though Japan is a small country, every area has its original culture. By seeing those shops, we are sure that you will find a prefecture you want to visit in Japan. Or you may even feel like you’ve actually visited many prefectures!
This looks like a very simple plastic umbrella selling at any convenient store which costs 300 yen ($3.75US) or so. No, it is not like that cheap one. Can you imagine that it sells for 8400 yen (US $107)?
This is a very special plastic umbrella. How special it is ?
If you’ve ever seen footage of the Japanese Empress Michiko holding an umbrella over her shoulder on a rainy day, you might find yourself in awe of how gracefully she pulls it off.
We are talking about the specially crafted parasols by White Rose Co, founded in 18th century in Japan. The simple looking plastic umbrellas have been developed using the 300 years of experience. The Imperial House as well as politician in Japan use specially made umbrellas from the makers of the first plastic umbrellas in the world.
You will never find the Empress struggling to open her umbrella or even hold it steady in windy downpours. This is because they are made using a special triple layered material. This keeps the umbrella clean when wet and each sheet is specifically attached to the ribs in such a way that, when it’s open, greatly reduces the drag caused by wind.
The plastic is attached to the ribs so that wind will pass through the inside but rain won’t come in the outside.
“The plastic umbrellas that you’d buy in places like convenience stores use a simple sheet of material, but we use a special triple layered material. It keeps clean when wet, not sticky. The sheet is specifically attached to the ribs in such a way that, when it’s open, greatly reduces the drag caused by wind. When Empress Michiko slings her umbrella over her shoulder she doesn’t have to struggle with the wind blowing into it.”
These exclusive umbrellas are now available to the general public !!
Are you interested in this umbrella ? It would be interesting to see how well they hold up to windy days.
You will see Japanese craftsmanship even in plastic umbrella technologies !
Indigo dyeing was born in ancient times and has been existing over the centuries in various regions in the world, such as India, China, and Japan. It was known and traded as well in Mesopotamian, Egyptian, Greek, Roman, Britain, Peruvian, Persian, and African civilizations.
India is believed to be the oldest center of indigo dyeing in the Old World, that is approximately 6500 years ago.
Supposedly, existing oldest indigo-dyed fabric is the cloth used to wrap Mummy in Egypt about 4000 years ago.
In Japan, we call our indigo dyeing “Ai-zome”(藍染め).
It is said that the origin of Ai-zome came from China about 1800 years ago, which is relatively short history in the world of indigo dyeing.
Below is woven fabric for Kimono, called “Kurume-Gasuri”. This is also Ai-zome.
Do you know that Ai-zome is not only for Japanese traditional products, but used for modern clothing ? Representative example is Denim Jeans. However, most of them made in bulk and sold cheaply are not real Ai-zome, but dyed chemically.
As you know, Jeans were born in USA in 19th century.
Now, a Japanese company of Ai-zome has developed the quality of Jeans with their artifice of Ai-zome, called “Japan Blue“.
It is “Rampuya”(藍布屋) that produces “Momotaro” (桃太郎) Jeans.
Rampuya is also providing classes to experience Ai-zome dyeing for yourself.
If you have a chance to visit Kurashiki in Okayama, why don’t you find your experience of Ai-zome ?
Wherever you are, toilet is very important for you, isn’t it ?
One of the most exciting and amazing discoveries in Japan for foreign tourists may be toilet or toilet bowl.
Although you can hardly see anymore these days, there used to be Japanese style toilet bowl, which is totally different from western one.
Can you imagine how to use it ?
It is clearly not for sitting on like western style !
You need to squat down over it putting your each leg on the edge of each side. Looking at wall is right direction.
But, you know what ? Most of young Japanese people cannot make this position. If they try it, they will fall down backward because they are not used to this pause and do not have enough muscle for it.
Going further back to previous era, it was like this.
Actually, this is kind of gorgeous one only for Samurayi who owns his castle in late 16th centuries.
When you pick up dictionary, it just says “folk art” or “folk craft”, but there are a lot more profound meaning to the word “Mingei”(民芸).
In 1920′s, a famous Japanese philosopher, Yanagi Muneyoshi (柳宗悦 1889-1961) admired the beauty of the crafts made for everyday ordinary usage by unknown craftsmen, and created the new word “Mingei” (民芸) for them that implies their high value and quality.
Yanagi discovered real beauty in the commodity crafts made by nameless craftsmen, rather than objects of arts made for appreciation. This lead the development of “Japanese folk art movement” (Mingei Undo, 民芸運動) between 1920′s and 1930′s.
Bernard Leach (1887-1979), a British botter, who was born in Hong Kong and spent his childhood in Japan, had close friendship with Yanagi and other Japanese philosophers.
When ”Japanese folk art movement” is discussed, the name of Bernard Leach is always brought in.
It is said that Bernard supported to make practical ceramics of daily use, rather than purely artistic pottery.
If you are interested in Japanese folk art movement, how about visiting these exhibitions ?
By the way, the son of Yanagi Muneyosi, Yanagi Sori (柳宗理1915-2011) was a famous product designer, and produced a lot of work. Unfortunately, he just passed away last year, but his products are still loved by many people.
Recently, many TV programs and magazines have cover the theme of “Shokunin” (職人, craftspersons).
The most famous one is “Wafu So-honke” (和風総本家).
Then movement of reevaluation of Japanese craftsmanship has arisen !
Can you wrap a gift beautifully?
There is a sense of drama when you receive a gift that has been beautifully wrapped. Wrapping is an essential part of gift-giving. You are giving something important, so it must be wrapped well. Japanese department stores, by the way, provide a very elegant gift-wrapping service for any gift you buy there. And I found Tokyu Hands, one of my favorite stores in Tokyo, shows us how to wrap our gift professionally like Japanese department stores do.
“Wrapping ” things is more than a convenience in Japan. It is something to which people give special thought and care.
“Wagashi” is traditional Japanese confectionary, often served with tea. They are generally extremely fancy and beautiful, each one a little work of art. Traditionally, wagashi are used mainly for the Japanese tea ceremony as well as for festivals, special occasions, and temple ceremonies. There are also wagashi eaten as everyday treats, but those are generally more simply designed and colored.
Typically made from natural ingredients, it is considered both healthy and delicious. The origins of Wagashi date back in time to when cakes and dumplings were made of rice, millet, other grains, nuts and fruit – all of which were the foundation of Japan’s dietary staples.
The predecessors to contemporary wagashi are believed to have been brought to Japan during the Nara Period (710-794 CE) as a result of trade with China, where shaped and molded sweets were made of flour, chestnuts, and rice. The first Japanese wagashi appeared on the market during the Heian period(794-1185). Ever since, Japan refined techniques for making confectionary and these delicacies were served at the Imperial Court and offered to Shinto and Buddhist deities. Made of local fruit, chestnuts, rice,mochi, flour, soy beans, azuki beans, and cane sugar, they became popular snacks to accompany tea. Contemporary wagashistill use these ingredients as a base and are still dyed with natural plant dyes. However, the style and shapes have evolved quite a bit over the course of a millennium.
Wagashi are classified according to the production method and moisture content: namagashi (very moist or wet), han namagashi (half-moist or wet), and higashi (dry). Namagashi are beautifully crafted seasonal cakes made fresh daily. They reflect the four seasons and nature of Japan and the names resonate a poetic beauty satisfying the sense of sound as well as taste, scent, sight and texture.
1. Good for your health
Red beans are the main ingredient of ‘wagashi‘, with wheat, rice, sesame seeds, yam, sugar and ‘kanten‘ (agar) being added where necessary. Confectioners use all natural ingredients that are loaded with vegetable products and not animal fats (except eggs), which is good news for those worried about cholesterol. For example, red bean jam ‘an‘ (a common ‘wagashi‘ ingredient made from boiled ‘azuki‘ beans and sugar) is rich in quality protein and has a good balance of linolic and linolen acid, vitamins E, B1, B2, B6, amino acid, mineral calcium, phosphor, potassium, magnesium and iron. ‘Wagashi‘ are also high in vegetable fiber which aids in digestion. It is no wonder these delicious sweets are praised for being both tasty and healthy!
2. Feel the season in advance
Wagashi are often designed for different seasons, like all Japanese cuisine. There are special spring, summer, autumn and winter wagashi. There are also particular wagashi for New Year’s, Cherry Blossom Viewing, and other traditional annual festivals. Seasonal wagashi vary greatly in colors and designs. For example, in autumn chrysanthemum shapes are favored. Spring wagashi often come in the shape of a plum flower. Famous wagashi for Cherry Blossom Season actually use cherry blossoms and leaves for flavoring and design.
Stores display these particular ‘wagashi‘ a full month ahead of the seasonal event. For example, ‘Sakuramochi‘ celebrate Japan’s beloved April cherry blossoms and are available at the end of February. With eager anticipation, one can enjoy delicious ‘Sakura-mochi‘ and sense the coming of spring, all the while imagining lovely cherry trees full of delicate white blossoms. Only in Japanese culture can one discover sweets and confections that are wonderfully transcended into messengers of the upcoming seasons.
3. The Art of five sense
Food lovers around the world are fascinated with ‘wagashi‘, in large part due to these sweets’ appeal to all five senses. With each taste, we step deeper into indulgence. Culture, tradition and stunning scenery will forever inspire Japan’s confectioners to create new varieties of delicious ‘wagashi‘. True to the exquisite aesthetics of Japanese culture, the way wagashi is created makes it appear almost too good to eat. Delightful to look at and deliciously sweet, it’s referred to as a form of “food artistry that can be enjoyed by the five senses.”
Appearance - Always a visual feast – the shapes, colors and creation of ‘wagashi‘ often reflect Japanese literature, painting and textiles. In addition to these cultural elements, ‘wagashi‘ also evoke images of nature.
Taste – To create such unique flavors, these confectionaries are made largely from natural ingredients, such as beans and grains, long-time staples of the healthy Japanese diet.
Texture - To appreciate ‘wagashi‘, each piece must be served fresh and ready to be placed on the tongue. They must also be soft, moist or crisp – qualities that must be present to reveal the freshness, quality and uniqueness of each confection.
Aroma - With a delicate aroma of natural ingredients, ‘wagashi‘ please the senses in a subtle manner that does not inhibit tea ceremony participants from savoring the accompanying beverage.
Sound - Lyrical Japanese names are bestowed on each ‘wagashi‘. When spoken aloud, they evoke the most pleasurable images. Some names come from classical prose or poetry, while others hint at a particular season.
Wagashi has been a Japanese delicacy for hundreds of years. Its variations are endless. Creating an entirely new wagashi, not a variation on a theme, requires the skills of a master craftsman and the sensibilities of an artist. Wagashi have long history and the basic technic of making wagashi is making it by hand. A high level of skill and experience is necessary to make wagashi. A typical craftsman needs 10 years or so to become an expert. Some wagashi are made by hand with heart. I hope that in the future, many more wagashi will be made by hands and not machines, to preserve the tradition of wagashi.
Today’s biggest, best-known companies are mostly mere teenagers in the history books of business. For example, Microsoft was not born until 1975; even General Electric cannot trace its roots further back than 1876. We know that corporate longevity is highly unusual. One-third of the firms in the Fortune 500 in 1970 no longer existed in 1983 – killed by merger, acquisition, bankruptcy or break-up. But there are some companies exist for more than a millennium.
The first thing that comes to mind when people mention Japan is the futuristic looking cities that are present there. Japanese cities look like futuristic versions of the way all cities will look one day. They are clean, non-violent, and very well organized. Tokyo is known for its neon lighting and electronic stores. If you’re looking to get the latest cell phone, computer, or other electronic device, you’ll want to head to Tokyo to find it. That could be the impression of Japan for most of the foreigners. This is true for one aspect of Japan, but there is another aspect of Japan, ‘tradition’.
You may know that the Japanese soy sauce company ‘Kikkoman’ . Kikkoman says ‘over 300 years of excellence’. I got curious what is the oldest company in Japan and in the world . And I googled it and found a Wikipedia page for List of oldest companies. To my surprise, Japan dominates that page. Japan has 3,146 firms that are over 200 years old. In comparison, the second place is Germany with 837 firms.
The oldest one is a Japanese onsen hotel, Nishiyama Onsen Keiunnkan(慶雲館), founded in 705. the second is also Japanese onsen hotel, Houshi Ryokan(法師旅館) founded in 717. I googled more and found even older than Nishiyama Onsen Keiunkan. Yes, it is Japanese company. Kongo Gumi(金剛組), the Japanese temple builder, founded in 578. Kongo Gumi was the world’s oldest continuously ongoing independent company, operating for over 1,400 years.
How do you make a family business last for 14 centuries? Kongo Gumi’s case suggests that it’s a good idea to operate in a stable industry. Few industries could be less flighty than Buddhist temple construction. The belief system has survived for thousands of years and has many millions of adherents. With this firm foundation, Kongo had survived some tumultuous times, notably the 19th century Meiji restoration when it lost government subsidies and began building commercial buildings for the first time. Another secret of Kongo Gumi’s 1,428 year run was its flexibility. For example, when the temple building business suffered during World War II, the company responded and switched to building coffins.
Another factor that contributed to Kongo Gumi’s extended existence was the practice of sons-in-law taking the family name when they joined the family firm. This common Japanese practice allowed the company to continue under the same name, even when there were no sons in a given generation..
Unfortunately, even these factors could not protect this historic firm from the downturn in Japan’s economy. When the company’s borrowings had ballooned to $343 million in 2006, the firm was acquired by Takamatsu, a large Japanese construction company, and Kongo Gumi was absorbed into a subsidiary.
There are 7 Japanese firms which exist longer than 1,000 years. There are more than 22,219 firms in Japan that are over 100 years. 39 of them are longer than 500 years. Only 650 Japanese firms were born after 1975. Though China has longer history than Japan, the oldest Chinese firms was a pickles company founded in 1538 and only 5 firms that are over just 150 years.
Well known Japanese companies globally are like Toyota, Nissan, Sony, Panasonic, Canon, Nikkon, and so on. But there are only teenager of history books of business in our country.
Kimokame was just born in this year, and we hope we can be one of those Japanese companies remain in the business for centuries.
Between July and September, there are firework displays in cities, towns and villages all over Japan. Fireworks (花火, Hanabi) have a long history in Japan and are an integral part of Japanese summers. Hundreds of firework shows are held every year across the country, with some of them drawing hundreds of thousands of spectators.
The Japanese considered fireworks (hanabi) as “flowers of fire” – brilliant bursts in various forms and colors of poignant beauty. Like the splendid cherry blossoms’ brief existence, fireworks flash in all their pomp and glory for a fleeting moment only to vanish into thin air. Since fireworks displays have become such popular events, it’s common to see many people strolling in yukatas (cotton kimonos), drinking cold beer and carrying uchiwas (round-shaped fans) – everyone from the neighborhood turned up for the festivity on muggy summer nights.
Going to fireworks
Girls wearing Yukata
With the public’s obsession with fireworks, it’s not surprising that Japanese fireworks have evolved into an art of its own. The Japanese created the fabulous design of a three-dimensional global dispersion that resembles a chrysanthemum, one of the most elegant presentations in pyrotechnics. The firework shell is globular packed with several layers of different colors of powder to alter the hue of illumination while burning in the air. When the casing explodes, each star uniformly positioned around the core is strewn into space in equal distance from the center of the blast.
Fireworks with the state-of-the-art techniques are grabbing much attention nationwide. The special effects of starmine, a succession of launches for speed and rhythm, or the water-born fireworks, a fountain spraying out a shower of sparks, have added a new dimension to the art of pyrotechnics. Even more astounding, the daylight fireworks streak through the cloudless blue sky like lightning bolts in Technicolor. The popularity of creative firework designs has inspired replications of computer graphic designs of swirls and lines, as well as fueled patterns of familiar figures in an assortment of colors, such as, a butterfly, snail, hat, fish, and even a smiley face.
There is a contest of fireworks that we can see how amazing each firework is.