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 ?
We would like to share the information of Suntory Museum in Tokyo, “See, Feel, and Enjoy:
A Wonderland of Japanese Art” (Aug. 8 – Sep. 2).
The Suntory Museum of Art has one of the nation’s best collections, but usually its scrolls, screens, and lacquerware are carefully stowed inside glass cases. Timed to coincide with summer vacation, “A Wonderland of Japanese Art” utilizes digital and analog technologies to bring its masterpieces to life. Dancers depicted on a scroll begin to move; a gorgeous screen is recreated as a digital touch display that allows one to examine it in amazing detail—it’s all the result of a collaboration with the Louvre-Dai Nippon Printing Museum Lab.
It is a theme park of Japanese Art. – “Have you ever wanted to discover what’s inside a lacquerware box? We have digital and analog technology that can satisfy your curiosity and answer your questions. See, feel, and enjoy!” There are some pictures so click here and it looks very interesting !
Exhibition of “Bingata”(紅型) Kimonos in 18-19th centuries has been held in Suntory Museum
in Tokyo Midtown, in commemoration of 40 years since Okinawa was returned to Japanese administration.
Okinawa used to be an independent kingdom, called “Ryukyu” (琉球), between early 15th centuries and late 19th centuries.
Located in the middle of three countries, China, Korea, and Japan, Ryukyu flourished as a base of intermediate trade. It extended the trading far even to South-East Asia countries, and finally had a strong relationship with Malacca.
In 1609, “Satsuma-han”(薩摩藩), a Japanese local reign at that time in “Kyusyu”(九州) area, invaded Ryukyu and put it under their control.
With influences of various countries by the intermediate trading, Ryukyu had established their unique culture, which seems to be deeply influenced by mainland China, and Japan especially.
As many of you may know, Okinawa was under American control during 1945-1972, because Japan lost in World War II. This experience must have influenced on modern Okinawa culture.
Coming back to Bingata exhibition, there were about 245 exhibits in the museum !
Most of them were for noble women in 18-19 centuries, and some were for children.
They were splendid and worth to watch.
Probably, the representative of Bingata Kimono that many people would imagine is the one like below picture.
Ryukyu-taste colorful picture on the vivid yellow like this used be that only for most noble, highest class royal women.
Although the shape of the Kimono of the above picture is modern Furisode actually, Ryukyu shape of Kimono was not like this. Can you tell the difference of the shape between those kimonos on below and above pictures ?
The shape in the below picture seems to have the influence of ancient Chinese close.
What found interesting are,
- Most of kimonos are not vivid yellow like above picture, but more rustic colors, which may have been influenced by Satsuma-han.
- The shape of the Ryukyu Kimonos for adult women was different from that of current Japanese Kimono. (This seems to be natural.) Namely, It was Ryukyu style shape that looked like between Japanese and Chinese. However, amazingly, the shape of the Kimonos for the children exhibited was completely as same as that of current Japanese Kimono for the children ! Why ???
- The happy motifs used for the patterns were “Sho-Chiku-Bai”(松竹梅, pine, bamboo, and plum) and “Tsuru-Kame”(鶴亀, crane and turtle), that have been completely the same in Japan.
Both “Ho-Chiku-Bai” and “Tsuru-Kame” derive from mainland China. However, it is not clear which, China or Japan directly influenced Ryukyu to take these happy motifs.
“Sho-Chiku-Bai” originated in China of 10th centuries called “宋”, and ”Tsuru-Kame” originated in China of 7-9th centuries, called “唐.”
Although there were no answers for the questions above in the exhibition, it was very interesting.
As they provide the guidance support in English, foreigners who are interested in “Ryukyu Bingata” should enjoy it.
Lastly, this is nice information for those who would like to enjoy “Bingata” but cannot buy it because of the expensiveness.
They sell cheeper “Bingata” products. Here are “Clear-file” and “Coaster” !
Thanks to the Hollywood movie like ’The Last Samurai’ starring by Tom Cruise and Keanu Reeves upcoming movie’47 Ronin’ , “katana” sword has now become an extremely popular sword in the world. Katana is one of the traditional Japanese swords worn by the samurai. From the medieval period to the modern, the Samurai sword has evoked fascination amongst warriors and laymen alike and was believed by the Samurai to be joined to his soul.
One of the greatest swordsmiths in Japan is Masamune(千子 村正） . Masamune is almost legendary in Japan. Most of his work was done during the 13th and 14th century. He created swords and daggers in the Soshu tradition.
Sword at Tokyo National Museum
Japanese Katana – National Treasure
To make the swords requires a great amount of technical skill and craftsmanship making them not only weapons of note, but also works of art in their own right. This did not only apply to the blades, the hilt and scabbard were sometimes carved from ivory and depicted a story from Japanese mythology and along with the hand guard, were often embedded with silver or gold.
Traditional swords are still making in Japan and recently MEXT (The Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science & Technology), Japan created the making video of Japanese sword by traditional swordsmithing.
The authentic Japanese sword is made from a specialized Japanese steel called “Tamahagane” which consist of combinations of hard, high carbon steel and tough, low carbon steel. High-carbon steel is harder and able to hold a sharper edge than low-carbon steel but it is more brittle and may break in combat. Forgers use these details when making a sword.
When the rough blade is completed, the swordsmith turns the blade over to a polisher called a togishi, whose job it is to refine the shape of a blade and improve its aesthetic value. The entire process takes considerable time, in some cases easily up to several weeks. Early polishers used three types of stone, whereas a modern polisher generally uses seven. The polishing process almost always takes longer than even crafting, and a good polish can greatly improve the beauty of a blade, while a bad one can ruin the best of blades. More importantly, inexperienced polishers can permanently ruin a blade by badly disrupting its geometry or wearing down too much steel, both of which effectively destroy the sword’s monetary, historic, artistic, and functional value.
In addition to folding the steel, high quality Japanese swords are also composed of various distinct sections of different types of steel.
After the blade is finished it is passed on to a mountings-maker, or sayashi (literally “Sheath Maker” l). Sword mountings vary in their exact nature depending on the era, but generally consist of the same general idea, with the variation being in the components used and in the wrapping style. The obvious part of the hilt consists of a metal or wooden grip called a tsuka, which can also be used to refer to the entire hilt. The hand guard, or tsuba, on Japanese swords (except for certain twentieth century sabers which emulate Western navies’) is small and round, made of metal, and often very ornate.
The handguard piece, often intricately designed as an individual work of art — especially in later years of the Edo period — was called the tsuba. Other aspects of the mountings (koshirae), such as the menuki (decorative grip swells), habaki (blade collar and scabbard wedge), fuchi and kashira (handle collar and cap), kozuka (small utility knife handle), kogai (decorative skewer-like implement), saya lacquer, and tsuka-ito (professional handle wrap, also named emaki), received similar levels of artistry.
The obvious part of the hilt consists of a metal or wooden grip called a tsuka, which can also be used to refer to the entire hilt. The hand guard, or tsuba, on Japanese swords is small and round, made of metal, and often very ornate.
Almost all blades are decorated, although not all blades are decorated on the visible part of the blade. Once the blade is cool, and the mud is scraped off, the blade has designs and grooves cut into it. One of the most important markings on the sword is performed here: the file markings. These are cut into the tang, or the hilt-section of the blade, where they will be covered by a hilt later.
Martial artists see that a katana sword is more than just a weapon. It’s a sword with concept, philosophies, and symbol. When a person is starting to learn about the Japanese sword martial art, they will not only learn the techniques, but also the philosophies behind it.