Posts tagged “tradition”
8/15 is a special day for many Japanese, called “Obon” (お盆). (For people in some areas, it is 7/15.)
Is is said that the souls of your ancestors come back to the living world on this day, so that we celebrate and welcome them. As a custom, many Japanese take their summer vacation on the week of 8/15.
“Okuribi” (送り火) is the event to see off the souls going back to the world of afterlife. There are 2 major kinds of “Okuribi”. One is done on the hill, called “Yama no Okuribi”, (山の送り火) and the other one is done in the water, called “Umi no Okuribi” (海の送り火). “Umi no Okuribi” is “Toro Nagashi” (灯籠流し) in another words.
“Gozan Okuribi” (五山送り火) in Kyoto is the most famous one of “Yamano Okuribi” and many tourists look forward to seeing it. “Gozan” means 5 hills, then, there are 5 places that fire at the same time on 8/16.
This represents the Kanji character, “大”. Why this character is not known clearly, but some say it depicts the shape of human.
There are characters that represent “Torii”(鳥居), a shrine gate and a boat.
“Okuribi” is one of representatives of Summer traditional events in Kyoto.
If you have a chance to visit Kyoto in summer, why don’t you try feeling Japanese “Obon” ?
Do you know “Yakatabune”(屋形船) ?
It is a traditional Japanese style boat with wall and roof. As oldest, it used to be Shogun’s private boat in Heian Era and lasted through the Edo Era, which were very lavishly decorated.
There are some Ukiyoe that have Yakatabune pictured.
Yakatabune has tatami mats inside and Japanese low tables that are basically for entertaining guests in the old days. Today they plow the waterways of the rivers and bays of Tokyo among the skyscrapers and temples for sighteseeing and retain a traditional feel.
Now, many people enjoy Yakatabune especially in Spring when cherry blossoms are in bloom, Summer with fireworks, and Yearend when yearend paries are held.
In summer, it is very gracious to watch fireworks from Yakatabune in the river.
In yearend, some Japanese people like to have yearend parties, called “Bonenkai” (忘年会) in Yakatabune because it has a kitchen and dishes like “Tempura” (天ぷら) can be served with some drinks including alcohols !
When you have a chance to visit Japan, why don’t you put Yakatabune one of your “exotic” activities ?
Do you know Washi-Choso (和紙彫塑) ?
Many of you may know Washi, that is Japanese traditional paper made using fibers from the bark of gampi tree, mitsumata shrub, or the paper mulberry. Washi-Choso is the kind of carving art using Washi, wires, wood, hemp strings, and clay. This art is not very popular and even not many Japanese know it.
The artist of Washi-Choso, Utsumi Kiyoharu (内海清美) is the great master.
He was born in Tokyo in 1937 and graduated from Tokyo University of Arts. His major concepts of the art is people in the Japanese traditional history. He has made the Pope a present of his art called “Susanoo”. In Japanese mythology, Susanoo, the powerful storm of Summer, is the brother of Amaterasu, the goddess of the Sun, and of Tsukuyomi, the god of the Moon.
Once you see his arts, you will be drawn into the world of myth, full of empyreal air.
Do you know “Oiran” (花魁) ?
Oiran was a kind of courtesan of highest rank in Edo period (1600-1868). Some people may express it a prostitute, however Oiran became celebrities of their times outside the pleasure districts. Their art and fashions were often set trends among the wealthy, and because of this, cultural aspects of Oiran traditions continue to be preserved until these days.
For men, in order to see Oiran, they had to frequent the red-light place until they were allowed to see by Oiran.
In that sense, they had to pay the fee several times without getting any services.
When finally allowed to see, Oiran came to the meeting room accompanied by several young female attendants.
Once Oiran sit down in front of the man and started smoking. During this time, she made an intuitive decision whether she would like only to talk with him or give him “full” services.
If she did not like the men, he would never be allowed to see her again !
When Oiran went outside officially, they made a long gorgeous line like parade, called “Oiran-Dochu”(花魁道中).
This meant “Fashion Show” to the people in the town, as well.
Oiran-Dochu can be seen in the movie, “Sakuran” (さくらん）
Behind the world of great pride, Oiran was treated terribly disregarded with their human rights. When they became ill and died, they were just thrown away into the river.
By the way, we sell Japanese towel with a motif of “Takao-Dayu” (高尾大夫).
Takao-Dayu was one of the most famous Oiran in Yoshiwara (吉原) which was in Taito-ku (台東区) in Tokyo. Takao-Dayu was not only one woman, but it was the prestigious name taken by several women who were beautiful and had special skills. It is not clear how many women succeeded the name, there are 4 views that say 4, 6, 9, or 11.
The most interesting skill that one of the several Takao-Dayu had was capability to fix the clock !
Another interesting fact is that those who frequented to see Oiran were not only men, but young women also did.
It was not because they were gay, but they wanted to learn their fashion sense, like Kimono pattern, hair accessary, and coordination.
Ladies have been eager to fashion in any period !
Many of you who like Japan or have visited Japan may know “Akihabara”(秋葉原), or called shortly “Akiba”, where a lot of stuff are sold relating electronic devices, animation, figures, or subcultures.
Very close to Akiba, there is a place called “2k540 AKI-OKA Artisan”. “2k540″ is pronounced “Ni Ke Yon Go Maru”, named from railway terminology meaning the place 2.5 km from Tokyo station.
This is the place under railway between “Akihabara” station and “Okachimachi” station, where a lot of small shops of artisans that sell hand-made crafts from traditional to modern. Okachimachi used to have a lot of artisans and craftworkers who developed Japanese traditional crafts in Edo era.
2k540 AKI-OKA Artisan was established aiming to provide the place to unrenowned or young artisans to show their activities and appeal their talents.
Bag, Apron, Furniture, Jewelry, Pottery, Wooden craft, Dye goods,,, countless !
Spaces combined with shop and craft studio, only one item in the world, workshop where you can experience crafting, this is creative area that should inspire you with new lifestyle.
If you visit Akihabara, why don’ you drop into Okachimachi, as well ?
Usually, 1/4 or Monday of the next week of 1/1 is first business day of the new year in Japan, where, many business people go to see and show new year greetings to their customers with some gifts.
This new year gift is called “Onenga” (お年賀) in Japanese.
It is said that this custom was born in “Edo” era (江戸時代, around mid 1600), when people obtained peaceful lives and merchants were flourished.
Local “Samurai” used to visit “Shogun” with their local products.
Traders and merchants brought sweets, sake or liquor on their first business day of the year.
Nowadays, most popular “Onega” is Towel.
Why Towel ?
It seems to be because Towel is cheep and good for daily use.
Sometimes, the towel has a company or merchants name printed, that is to be exposed every time used, and it works to go deeply into the customers memory.
Towel for “Onenga” derives from Kabuki actors who distributed “Tenugui” (手ぬぐい, Japanese traditional towel) their fans and supporters.
They used to design the pattern of “Tenugui” or had their “Kamon”(家紋, family emblems) printed on “Tenugui.
If you are learning Tea ceremony, you may choose “Tenugui” with tea utensils like below.
Tenugui with tea utensils
If you are a Sushi cook, you may like this one.
Tenugui with fish Kanji
And, if you are a firefighter, below should be the exact ones !
Tenugui with “Matoi”
Revival of “Tenugui” “Onenga” from modern towel must be “Iki” (粋, nifty) today !
You can also obtain them on our website.
Why don’t you visit here ? -> http://kimokame.com/shop/sections/kimono-inspired-interiors/
There are a lot of historical traditional crafts all over Japan, including clothing, food, interior, stationary, and so on.
If you would like to see and learn about them, why don’t you visit “Japan Traditional Crafts Aoyama Square” ?
It has database of detail information about the crafts in each area.
When you look at the category about woven fabric, there are 34 kinds of fabric in 17 prefectures, and for dyed fabrics, there are 11 kinds of fabric in 7 prefectures.
Of woven fabric kinds, most famous among Japanese people are, Yuki-Tsumugi, Kihachijo, Oshima-Tsumugi, and Kurume-Gasuri for Kimono, and, Nishijin-Ori and Hakata-Ori for Obi fabric.
Tsumugi weaving is not gorgeous, but has humble beauty of the texture that represents typical Japanese wording “Wabi Sabi”.
Tsumugi was loved mostly by ordinary people, and has been worn on casual occasions in these days.
Nishijin-Ori is, on the other hand, is characteristic of its luxuriousness weaving with gold and silver strings, that used to be worn mostly by noble people in days of old, and has been utilized in formal situation these days.
Of dyed fabrics, Kyo-Yuzen, Kaga-Yuzen, and Bingata is vary famous among many Japanese people, even those who are not interested in Kimono.
Kyo-Yuzen is provably typical Kimono fabric that most of foreigners will imagine.
Kaga-Yuzen is dyed by the almost same way as Kyo-Yuzen, however, its is less gorgeous and characteristic of its vermiculate leaves in the pictured pattern.
Kaga-Yuzen (vermiculate leaves)
Japan Traditional Crafts Aoyama Square also has a showroom in Aoyama, Tokyo, where, hundreds of hi-quality folk crafts all over Japan are regularly shown and you can actually buy them.
They also provides biweekly exhibitions and most recent planned exhibition in the Square is about the crafts in Fukui prefecture (from 8/31 to 9/11). It seems to include ceramics, lacquer crafts, edged tools, and paper crafts.
Traditional Craft Square_1
Traditional Crafts Aoyama Square 2
Traditional Crafts Aoyama Square 3
If you plan to have a trip to Japan and would like to find something Japanese traditional, why don’ t you check the site before you fly ?
You may be able to find the aspects of Japanese tradition that you do not know yet !
On Sunday Aug. 25, Tokyo’s Imperial Hotel will be host to the spirit of traditional capital Kyoto and the previous life of Tokyo, when it was known as Edo. This show will feature classical dance performances by geiko and maiko from Kyoto, and geisha from Tokyo, a highly unusual combination of extraordinarily accomplished artists representing some of the nation’s most refined schools from its two most respected centers of Japanese dance.
Did you know that Maiko, Geiko and Geisha are different ?
What is Geisha ?
The word Geisha literally translates to “arts person” or “one trained in arts” (gei = art, sha = person). It is also sometimes described as “women of arts, which is exactly what a Geisha is – a woman trained in the traditional arts of Japan such as dance, music, singing to name a few.
What is Maiko ?
The word Maiko literally translates to “dancing child” (mai = dance,ko = child), but is also referred to as “dancing girl”. A Maiko is an apprentice Geisha who must must undergo a period of training that generally takes 5 years, where she learns the various “gei” (arts) such as dancing, singing, music etc before she becomes a Geisha.
What is Geiko ?
The word Geiko is another way of saying Geisha. It is predominately used by Geisha of the Kyoto districts.
Now, you know the difference. Kyoto’s geiko and maiko at the Imperial are from Gionkobu, the largest entertainment district in the old capital, established at the end of the Edo Period. Tokyo’s geisha are from the Shimbashi district, an entertainment section of the city of Edo established in the Ansei Era between 1854 and 1860 and by the Meiji Era one of the new country’s most active cultural centers. The joint performances of Kyoto’s geiko and maiko and Tokyo’s geisha is a highly unusual opportunity to enjoy these two distinctive dance troupes at the same venue at the same time.
Even most of Japanese never have a chance to see Maiko dance nor Geisha dance. How much does the ticket cost ? Well, including dinner and dance performance, 32,000yen (400 USD)per person. That makes sense that I never had a chance to see that.
Kimono is tradition but there is a movement among kimono designers seeking to bring the traditional Kimono into the modern world.
Tokyo Fashion Week ran from March 18 through March 24. There were green fashions from the designer who dressed Lady Gaga as well as a modern updates on the traditional kimono. About 15,000 people gathered for the Tokyo Runway Show to watch street styles, a show put together by Japanese creators seeking to switch to ready-to-wear brands and “real clothes consumers”. The third generation Kimono designer Jotaro Saito presented his “Futurism” collection, featured beautiful kimono in a variety of bold patterns and vivid colors with models wearing traditional sandals and being trussed up in “obi” sashes with fabric featuring horizontal-lining, checks and polka-dot.
Tokyo Fashion Week, 2012, Jotaro Saito
Tokyo Fashion Week 2012, Jotaro Saito
Kimono for daily wear is Jotaro’s philosophy. His stunning creations are a respectful nod to traditional kimono design bringing bold colors and modern patterns using the standard kimono form, which has taken the art form to new heights.
He has also carried his art form beyond Kimono to various works of art for restaurants, hotels, museums and shopping districts and his design work has been incorporated into household items and furniture.
If you want to check his collection, his shop is introduced on JINTO(Japan National Tourism Organization) fashion site.