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5/06/2011

. Fukui Folk Toys

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Fukui Folk Art - 福井県 

Fukui originally consisted of the two provinces of Wakasa and Echizen.
Fukui prefecture was established in 1871.



Echizen 越前, old name of the domain

Tsuruga 敦賀, a traditional harbour

Wakasa 若狭 

. Wakasa shrines and Hiko hohodemi no mikoto.

. Yao Bikuni 八百比丘尼 "Buddhist nun for 800 years .
ningyo 人魚, "human fish", often translated as "mermaid"

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Eiheiji 永平寺 Temple Eihei-ji



surikogi dorei すりこぎ土鈴 clay bell like a wooden pestle

On the bell is the inscription

身をけずり 人につくさん すりこぎの その味知れる 人ぞとおとし

Become like a wooden pestle,
grind yourself to the bone
in the good work for others.


. Eihei-Ji Temple 永平寺 - Introduction .

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Fukui town 福井

take ningyoo 竹人形 dolls from bamboo


Echizen take ningyoo 越前竹人形 bamboo dolls from Echizen
- reference -

Echizen-take-ningyo-no-sato
(The village of bamboo dolls) / 越前竹人形の里
source : www.takeningyo.com

. take gangu 竹玩具 bamboo toys and dolls .

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Echizen shikki 越前漆器 Echizen laquer ware


CLICK for more photos !

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What's Echizen Urushi 越前漆 ?
"Urushi" is the sap of the urushi tree ( its scientific name is Rhusverniflua). There are urushi tappers called "urushi kaki shokunin (shokunin means a person who specializes in something)" and they collect the sap by making scratches on the tree's surface with special knives. Urushi tree exudes its sap from the scratches to fix the damage. Using the mechanism of an urushi tree, the small amount of sap, approximately 200cc per tree, is collected trough a year. After the harvest, urushi kaki shokunins cut down the urushi trees and plant them again. Even thought the amount of the sap is small, the ability of urushi lacquer comes in handy.

Other than use as lacuqer, urushi is used as glue. Urushi has an interesting characteristic in its drying process. Substances in the thick liquid urushi react to oxygen in air and the chemical reaction hardens the liquid. It is different from the simple drying process that reduces moisture from a solid by heat and wind. Once it hardened, it's not easy to remove. Urushi is quality natural glue strong against acid, alkali, oil and water.

The powerful urushi sap was mostly harvested in Echizen area (today Sabae City in Fukui Prefecture), and Echizen Urushi is developed in the area. Echizen Urushi is traditional handmade wooden items made by coating its wooden base with urushi lacquer. Although it is recognized as tableware, it comes in many different forms such as bowls, plates, boxes, trays, vases, chopstickss, furniture and many different arts and crafts. The shokunin in Echizen have enhanced their skill to create Japanese lacquerware, and Echizen became one of the biggest lacquerware production area.

Lacquerware combines both beauty and functionality. It is displaying a beautiful glossy surface that is created by urushi topcoat. It is said that “urushi” is named after Japanese language,"uruwashii" or "uruoshi," that means something beautiful and glossy. Furthermore, wooden tableware is very light to hold, and has its special warmth and touch indescribable by words. Japanese have been very fond of these characteristics especially because they hold plates and bowls in their hands when they eat. Because wood has very low heat conductivity, lacquerware is excellent in insulation which enables to keep the food inside warm for a long time without bringing heat directly to hands holding it. It is the balance of function and design that makes Japanese lacquerware very special.

Recently, besides natural wood, new material has been developed by adding plastic to grinded wood which enabled mass production with low cost especially suitable for business use. Besides the natural opal color of urushi, lacquerware of different colors such as red, black, and amber and made by adding various dyes in urushi. Nowadays, sap of exuded from mango or cashew trees and artificial varnish similar to urushi lacquer are also sometimes used.



The Roots of Echizen Urushi
Lacquerware manufacturing in Echizen is one of the traditional industries in Japan, and its history dates back over 1,500 years. It is recognized that people in Fukui Prefecture used lacquerware since the Yayoi Period. The oldest Japanese lacquerware was discovered at Torihama Shell Heap in Fukui Prefecture. There are also some stories implying that Fukui Prefecture is the oldest lacquerware production area.

In 527A.D., when the 26th emperor of Japan was young, he ordered a lacquerware craftsman in Echizen to repair his crown. The craftsman had repaired the crown beautifully using the urushi lacquer, and had also presented him with a handmade black lacquered bowl as a special gift. The emperor was deeply impressed by its beauty and ordered the people in Echizen immediately to spread their technique widely across Japan, thus becoming the oldest production district and the beginning of the history of Japanese lacquerware.

Prosperity of the Echizen Urushi was relevant to Jodo Shinshu, also know as Shin Buddhism that was spread by Shinran, a Japanese Buddhist monk. The religion was widely believed in the area and he used three kinds of lacquer bowls to serve food to visitors who attended his lectures.

The lacquerware techniques were improved between Meiji (1868~1912) and Taisho (1912~1926) period. The forerunners in Echizen traveled all over Japan to search urushi’s habitation for superior urushi material and to study advanced techniques. They established the skills of creating many forms of the wooden base and decorating the lacquerware. Furthermore, the craftsmen often interact with other craftsmen in Kyoto and Wajima Sanchu, the famous lacquerware production areas, because of their readily accessible location.

Today, Echizen is continuously challenging to produce new lacquerware matching to the modern life style. There have also been many efforts to develop new material using latest technology. This has brought Echizen to the top shareholder (over 80%) today in the national market of business use lacquerware such as in hotels and restaurants.

- - - - - Read more
How to Create Echizen Urushi
1. Creating the base forms
2. Coating the surface with Urushi
3. Decorations
- source : echizen-urushi.com -

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. Echizen tansu 越前箪笥 chest of drawers .

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Echizen uchi hamono, uchihamono 越前打刃物 cutlery, hand-forged blades



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Echizen uchi-hamono cutlery is known for its casting technique. Heated steel is strongly and repeatedly beaten many times to forge a knife. ("Uchi" means "beat" or "strike" and "hamono" means "edged tool.") This technique has been passed down for 700 years. Cutting-edge design knives produced with this technique were selected as a MoMA (Museum of Modern Art, New York) permanent collection.
At Takefu Knife Village you can see old-style blacksmiths working and also experience making a letter opener.
- source : att-japan.net/en -


uchihamono 打刃物 blades are also a speciality of Edo/Tokyo.

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. Echizen washi 越前和紙 paper from Echizen .
and a Shrine for the deity of washi paper

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Mikuni village 三国町

tsuchi ningyoo 三国土人形 clay dolls from Mikuni
They are similar to the clay dolls from Takefu, see below.


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Obama town 小浜



Unpin ningyoo 雲浜(うんぴん)人形 Unpin dance dolls
雲浜獅子舞 Unpin lion dance dolls

Every year at the Boy's festival in May a performance was held at the Castle of Obama. This dance had been handed down from Kawagoe in Musashi via the lord Sakai Tadakatsu 酒井忠勝 (1587 - 1662).
One child lion is accompanied by two loving adult lion dancers.
Later the memory of the dancers has turned into dolls as local souvenirs, but now they have died out.

. Shishigashira 獅子頭 lion head mask .

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tamago ningyoo たまご人形 doll made from an egg

The face is painted, and cloth is draped around the egg to make small figures of dancers or historical heros. Many relate to Kabuki actors.


. Egg dolls from Oita, Takeda town .

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Ooimachi, Oshima おおい町大島

niso no mori ニソの杜 / 聖地 ritual family forest
選択無形民俗文化財 - Intangible Folk Cultural Property


source : info.pref.fukui.jp/bunka...

Also called ニンソー Ninsoo or モリさん Mori san (Honorable Forest)
24 mamilies on the island have this forest with a small shrine to honor the ancestors. November 22 and 23 are the special days when all family members gather to worship and have a feast.
Few families also have nisota ニソ田 ritual Niso fields, where they grow plants for the offerings. One person alone is not allowed to visit, it is a ニソ講 ritual group event. And the trees are not allowed to be cut down. But with the rural population decreasing rapidly, now there are only 10 forests in actual use.


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Sabae 鯖江市

Sabae megane 鯖江眼鏡 / 鯖江メガネ glasses, spectacles from Sabae



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Sabae Glasses 
he eyewear industry of Sabae City, Fukui Prefecture—including frame manufacturing industry—has a history reaching back over 100 years. It might even be said that Sabae represents the history of eyewear in Japan itself.
The production of eyewear in Sabae
was started by a local man called Masunaga Goemon, who from his youth served as a member of the village assembly while also being active in town development. Known as a wise man with a deep love of his hometown, Masunaga’s ultimate goal was to enrich the lives of all the people of Sabae, which, despite its severe snows, relied on agriculture as its primary industry.
Seeing an urgent need to diversify,
Masunaga foresaw the increasing demand for eyewear. Thus, as a side business during the off season, he invited craftsmen from areas such as Osaka and Tokyo, where eyewear manufacturing was already quite active, and drew on his own capital to have them teach their techniques to the young people of his city.
Eyewear manufacturing spread widely in Sabae
beginning in 1905. The various aspects of the process were separated, however, by having individuals specialize in each component of the eyewear, ultimately turning the entire town into a single factory. This methodology eventually bore fruit, and after World War 2, the rapidly expanding economy brought with it increasing demand for eyeglasses, allowing Sabae to grow into a leading eyewear production center.
Even after this period,
production efficiency was improved by automatizing parts of the manufacturing process, and both quality improvement and product variety developed as the city began manufacturing celluloid frames and sunglasses as well. In 1981, Sabae succeeded in developing and producing the world’s first durable yet lightweight titanium eyewear, establishing itself as a world-renowned center for eyewear production.
Glasses produced in Fukui in general,
and Sabae in particular, have been acknowledged not only for their innovation, but also for their high quality, and have strongly supported the Made in Japan brand. In 2003, an integrated production brand dubbed
THE291 (an alternate reading of “two-nine-one” in Japanese is fu-ku-i, or Fukui)
was established in Fukui to compete with foreign brands and promote development of new materials. Today, Fukui Prefecture accounts for over 90 percent of national eyewear production, and continues to vigorously advance new innovations as it drives product quality.
めがねミュージアム Megane Museum : http://www.megane.gr.jp/museum/
- source : japan-brand.jnto.go.jp/crafts-

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Sabae kutsubera 鯖江くつべら / 靴べら shoe horn

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Sabae mimikaki 鯖江ミミカキ ear pick 


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Takefu city  武生市
The city was established on April 1, 1948.
On October 1, 2005, Takefu, along with the town of Imadate (from Imadate District), was merged to create the city of Echizen 越前市.

Takefu tsuchi ningyoo 武生土人形 clay dolls from Takefu

They are made like the Fushimi dolls from Kyoto, but with very simple features and few colors. They were often made by blacksmiths during the winter months. Now their craft has died out.



Similar to the deity Daikoku, this is a child on a bale of rice, holding an auspicious hammer.
小槌持ち俵踏み童子


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Takefu Chrysanthemum Doll Festival たけふ菊人形
Early October to early November

Takefu is the best known for chrysanthemum dolls. There are about 8,000 pots containing flower varieties like Ogiku, Kogiku and Kengai on display.

The Kiku Ningyo hall exhibits dolls with splendid Chrysanthemum decorations portraying old stories. This event also offers a play land with a revue in a large theatre, as well as outdoor stage shows, jungle coaster and all-you-can-eat buffet.
- source : fuku-e.com/lang -

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. Legends and Tales from Japan 伝説 - Introduction .
from 坂口村 Sakaguchi Village, Takefu Town

- general
夢判断や観天望気、妊婦や庭木の禁忌その他の俗信一束。

大蛇,池の主 Daija Ike no Nushi
ある爺さんが田が乾いて困り、蛇ヶ池の主に、雨を降らせてくれたら3人の娘のうち1人を嫁に差し上げると約束した。はたして雨が降り、主は娘を迎えに来た。末の娘が嫁入りすることになり、針の袋を持って出た。男が池に入ろうとしたところを突き落とし、針の復路を投げ入れたら水が騒ぎ出した。数日して爺さんの家が火事になった。すると2匹の大蛇が出て来て家に巻きつき、水をくれと言ったが、村人は驚いて逃げてしまったので、蛇は焼け死んでしまった。
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ある娘が大蛇にのろわれて騙され、蛇の子をみごもった。大蛇が池の中で菖蒲湯に入ったら子が堕りてしまうと話していたのを立ち聞きし、娘はそのとおりにして蛇の子を堕ろした。だから6月5日の端午の節供には、女の人は菖蒲湯に必ず入らなくてはいけない。
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雨乞いは1930年ごろまでやっていた。朝、区長等が暗いうちに酒を持ってヤシャが池に行き、カワラケにトウスミ(灯心)を入れて火を灯して池に浮かべ、酒を池にあける。蛇が酒を飲みに来るとカワラケが引っくり返り、1時間以内に雨が降ったという。ひっくり返らないときは駄目なので、諦めて帰る。村人はその間庵寺に集まって太鼓を鳴らし、酒を飲んで待っている。


地獄の釜の蓋あけ,鬼,死んだ人 Jigoku no kama
8月14日から16日が盆で、地獄の釜の蓋あけという。鬼が金棒に挟んで死んだ人を釜の縁まで引揚げてくれる。盆に寺に行かないと、死んだ人が寺のあまだれでずっと待っているという。


神隠し Kamikakushi
夜、人がいなくなった。捜して山で見つけて連れ戻したが、その人は夜になると「今行くぞ、今いくぞ」と言っていたという。

カワソ大権現 Kawaso Daigongen
武生のカワソ大権現は女の神様で、18歳の時に下の病にかかって箱に入れて流されて、今いる所にたどり着き、お告げか夢かでその附近の人たちに祀られた。自分が病で苦しんだので、男のライ病と女の下の病を治してくれるという。

黒入道 Kuronyuudoo, Kuro Nyudo
雨が降る夜に歩いていると、松の木の横から黒装束に白い草履を履いた黒入道が出てきて笑うという。恐ろしいので、下から見上げるとますます大きくなっていく。その正体は古狸といわれている。

天狗,山の神 Tengu, Yama no Kami
天狗は山の神様。他の木と違うところのある変わった木は、天狗の御休み場である。
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1910年ごろの話。お婆さんがシキブの赤い花を取りに山にいき、帰ってこなくなった。皆で3日ほど捜したが見つからなかった。そのうち、木の又に挟まれて死んでいるのが見つかった。天狗に逆らって、騙されて連れて行かれたのではないかといわれた。その木は今はもうない。
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山の神様は1月9日と12月9日に祭る。山の神は天狗だといい、この日は10時までに山に行くと必ず怪我をするので、行ってはいけない。山の神が来年の種をまくからとか、山の木の種を拾っているからとか、山の木をどれだけ切ったか調べるからだとか、山に入った者を騙すからだとかいう。
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山の神は気が荒い。1月9日と12月9日の山の神祭りの時には、必ず初雪が降る。それで天気がポンポコ荒れることを、「山の神さん」という。山の神が白馬に乗っていくのを見た人もいる。


- source : nichibun yokai database -

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Tsuruga town 敦賀

. Kehi Jingu 気比神宮 The famous Kehi Shrine .


source : きびぱぱ


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桃太郎神 Momotaro as Deity

At the eaves of the old shrine building there was a carving of a peach split in two by the figure of a Deity.
The old shrine building was lost in the war, but figures of this "Peach Boy Deity" are now made as amulets to ward off evil and protect the family.

. Momotaroo 桃太郎 Momotaro the Peach Boy .

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Wakasa 若狭

. Wakasa Daruma 若狭のだるま .
and menoo agate stone figurines 瑪瑙
and urushi Wakasa laquer ware 漆


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Yoshizaki town 吉崎

. Yoshizaki Gobo onimen 吉崎の御坊鬼面 demon masks from Yoshizaki Gobo .



yome odoshi men 嫁おどし面 maks to scare the bride

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越前焼 Echizen-yaki / kumiko sashimono 組子指物 / and a lot more
source : pref.fukui.lg.jp/doc

Echizen Maki-e, Echizen-yaki, Fukuchi Glass. Yomogi Kusa-zome, Yuton
- and more
- source : japanartsandcrafts.com -

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. Reference and Photos . Gangu Guide .
. Reference and Photos . Isamu Folk Toys .
. Reference and Photos . Yama no Ie . Folk Toys .

- #fukui #tsuruga #wakasa #Takefu #sabae-
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. WASHOKU . Regional Dishes from Fukui

MORE
. Fukui Folk Toys - this BLOG .


. Japan after the BIG earthquake March 11, 2011


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