Hitottabi Navigator's Diary
Japanese culture from my daily life



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2010.06.19 Magewappa, the traditional wood craft

This is the traditional lunch box made of Akita cedar, called “Mage-wappa(曲げわっぱ).” “Mage”means “bend”(曲げる), and “wappa” means “circle”(輪), which derives from the process to make the thinly shaving cedar bent in a circular pattern. Originally, it is said that the wood cutters invented magewappa as their lunch boxes. In 1600’s, the feudal lord, Satake Yoshinobu(佐竹義宣) in Akita prefecture suggested samurai warriors to produce magewappa as side job in order to get over poor life.
I like magewappa because it is not only beautiful (the food looks tasty!) but also practical. It is breathable material to keep rice tasty: not too wet, not too dry. It is also so light to carry. In addition, it has bactericidal property to keep food well.

  1. 2010/06/20(日) 00:25:03|
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2010.01.09 A haiku of love

“我が恋は 人とる沼の 花あやめ”
“Wa-ga-ko-i-wa/ Hi-to-to-ru-nu-ma-no/ Ha-na-a-ya-me”
It was a haiku, sung by Izumi Kyoka(1873 to 1939). It means “My love is like an iris/ blooming in the mud/ to kill my life.”
Haiku(俳句) is a style of very short poem in Japan. Most of traditional ones describe nature, which not only tell the scenery but suggest the emotional and impressive message of the author. They are simple, but full of humanity.

  1. 2010/01/09(土) 23:30:42|
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2009.10.26 All the things and the people around you are...

I went to the cozy museum, 何必館 Kahitsukan in Kyoto. There was an exhibition of 北大路魯山人(Kitaoji Rosanjin). He was born in Kyoto in 1887 and died in 1959. He had talents for pottery, engraving, caligraphy, flower arrangement, tea, and food. 坐辺師友(Za-Hen-Shi-you) is the words to describe his life, meaning "All the things and the people around you are all your teachers and friends." He always learned from what he really experienced for his arts.

何必館 Kahitsukan Museum
Official website:Click here

  1. 2009/10/26(月) 07:00:33|
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2009.09.19 A miracle painting


Today I introduce one of my favorite Japanese artist, Hasegawa Tohaku 長谷川等伯, lived from 1539 to 1610. He was the greatest genius painter.

If you have a chance, please experience his paintings, especially simple colour ones in his later life.

The attached pictures are one of his famous works, called “松林図屏風”. It was painted more than 400 years ago but it looks extremely new. It was miracle that he painted the air by using only black colour.

Picture's source: Wikipedia
When I stood in fron of his work, imagined the scene, then I could feel the breeze, the air temperature and his spirit. It was a wonderful experience as if I were to another world.

  1. 2009/09/19(土) 00:59:43|
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2009.07.30 Noh

I went to 光明寺(Komyo-ji) at Kamiyacho神谷町 in the morning.
There was an event that a professional Noh能 player taught us how to sing a Noh song. Noh is one of the traditional performing arts in Japan, as you might know. It was a wonderful experience for me to listen directly to the voice of such a nice actor, and to sing following him, with a quiet atmosphere at the temple.

His voice was so energetic and aesthetic that it could change the air which completely fascinated us all.

It was also a chance to remind me of Japanese traditional way of learning, that is to say, "to emulate professor". The actor told us how important it was for leaning Noh play. Please don't regard it as just simply copying something, but seeing with a full of imagination to learn essential things and going deeper. In Japanese, the word 学ぶ(learn) derives from 真似ぶ(emulate). Traditionally, in Japan, children always learn various things by emulating elder people, which can make them develop their acute powers of observation as well as their professional skills.

If you are interested in Noh, please check here.

  1. 2009/07/30(木) 06:49:26|
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