Marvels of Japan

Guardian in Todaiji, Nara
Guardian in Todaiji, Nara (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Marvels of Japan

The third and last Pinterest link for anyone interested in Japanese culture. This is the quintessential link for Japanophiles from me to you. Enjoy!

Heavenly Dragons A Pinterest Board

Eastern Dragons

Heavenly Dragons A Pinterest Board

Lately, I have started using Pinterest and have found it a lot of fun! Here is one of my links that I thought followers of my Oriental wordpress blog might enjoy.

The Future of Washi (Paper)

Washi paper

Washi cufflinks
Image by craftapalooza via Flickr
Washi paper brooch
Image by craftapalooza via Flickr

Here is the last installment from the article entitled: World Papers and Washi. In the reference section of this blog post, you can find the link to the parent site from which this article was printed in full.

Located below, find other sections under this title posts previously under the blog, Mysterious Japan.

The Discovery of Paper:

The Development of Japanese Washi:

Washi and Its Reputation:

■Old yet new: the future of washi
 Today’s information society has raised a number of issues relating to the future of paper. Despite the growth of new electronic media, the consumption of paper is increasing, which in turn has led to such environmental problems as reductions in forest resources and increased waste. Washi has also had to face the power of economics. Having been replaced in many households by plastic utensils, it retains its unique raison d’ere largely in traditional events and in the hobbies that enrich people’s spiritual lives. Fortunately, there has been renewed interest in the aesthetic values of washi. Paper’s versatility has been highlighted by the increased popularity of the material as a new art medium. Originating in the United States and quickly spreading to the rest of the world, this type of art regards paper as more than a flat surface to be worked upon. Instead, paper fiber is considered an art material in itself and a catalyst for the creative process. Other materials may be integrated with the pulp to form three-dimensional shapes that may be further folded, dyed or torn. Techniques such as collage, assemblage, flottage and papier-colle(the pasting of newspaper or wallpaper) are also used. Combining paper with fabric, leather, metals, and other materials in new and uninhibited ways has been accepted by artists worldwide as a new field of plastic art, and through this, washi has once again become a focus of attention. The plastic art of paper has deep roots in Japan, where paper itself is appreciated as a work of art. Dyed paper in a range of colors, sukimoyo-gami (where the pattern is an internal part of the paper itself and is created during the formation process), paper  incorporating flowers and plants, paper folded or cut into shapes, crumpled paper, and paper strings – wide variety of paper products are made into both furniture and furnishings to add convenience and beauty to life. It might also be noted that Japan’s recycling of waste paper began in the eighth century. As people rediscover the beauty of antique folding fans, round fans, paper lanterns, paper-shaded table lamps, bamboo and paper umbrellas, papered sliding doors and screens, standing screens, and other paper products, these articles serve as a source of modern motifs for interior decoration and installations. Washi is a highly suitable material for these projects because of its strength, and the paper used can be recycled. Some have even named this new trend of paper art “the renaissance of paper” Plants thrive as long as water, carbon dioxide, nutrients and sunlight are available. They also provide all living things with the oxygen needed for life. After being consumed, they revert to their origins, water and carbon dioxide. With this cycle in mind, we should change our way of thinking from one of casually using paper because it is available to one of using paper for purposes only paper can meet. Furthermore, in addition to promoting forestation projects, research must be conducted into the use of such non-wood materials as kenaf, an annual plant native to India and other parts of the world, and how to deal with lignin, a natural substance contained in plants that breaks down paper and thus is an unneeded byproduct. Japan’s history of respect for paper and artistic use of paper offers suggestions for the future.



Old Yet New: The Future of Washi:

Washi and Its Reputation

Nederlands: Kusumoto Taki (1807-1865), alias S...
Image via Wikipedia

Washi paper is interesting, beautiful, fun to make and an art form with many possibilities.

Here is the third installment of “Living with Washi”. Links to the other two posts are here:

“The Development of Washi”:

The Discovery of Paper”:

In the Reference section (below) of this blog post, you can find the link to the parent site from which this article was printed in full.

Robert C. Williams Paper Museum A tool for mak...
Image via Wikipedia
Robert C. Williams Paper Museum A tool for mak...
Image via Wikipedia
■Washi and its reputation
 Towards the middle of the 16th century, Luis FROIS, a Portuguese missionary, lived in Japan and later published a book about Japanese history based on his experience. In 1590, the first Japanese book using movable type, the Christian Edition, was published on gampi paper. This paper was more beautiful and durable than any paper Europeans had known and they called it “plant parchment”. A Japanese-Portuguese dictionary of this period includes the names of many kinds of Japanese paper, demonstrating the extent of its interest to westerners. The Netherlands gained independence in the late 16th century and at the same time began trading with Japan. After the Edo (Tokugawa) shogunate adopted its policy of isolation, only the Netherlands was allowed contact with the country, and the offices of Dutch merchants in Nagasaki were Japan’s only window of trade with the outside world. When the Dutch painter Rembrandt harmensz VAN RIJN noticed that the paper wrapping lacquerware from Japan was both durable and beautiful, he immediately placed an order for washi, using it to create many masterpieces of etching. These works received great acclaim, and through this attention Japanese paper became widely known.  Engelbert KAEMPFER, a German doctor on a Dutch ship, came to Japan in 1690 and observed Japan from the point of view of a natural historian. After returning home, he wrote the Amoennitalum Exoticarum. One chapter of this account, entitled “History of Japan”, served as a guide to Japan and Japanese paper. Carl Peter THUNBERG, a Swedish botanist who came to Japan in 1774, gave a detailed account of Japanese papermaking and its raw materials in his book on the flora of Japan. Philipp Franz VON SIEBOLD, a German doctor who came to Japan in the early 19th century, disseminated information on Japan upon his return to Europe. He also brought back with him a great deal of Japanese paper and numerous paper products. When Japan opened its borders in 1852, European nations sent delegates to establish diplomatic relations. Rutherford ALCOCK, the first British minister to Japan, praised washi when describing Japanese arts and crafts in his famous work, The Capital of the Tycoon. He encouraged the exhibition of Japanese products, including washi, at the World Exposition in London in 1862. Washi also attracted the attention of the world at the Paris Expo in 1867.



Washi and its Reputation:

The Development of Japanese Washi

English: Cranes made by Origami (Washi paper)....
Image via Wikipedia
Washi paper (Sugihara paper)
Image via Wikipedia

Image via Wikipedia

Here is the second installment from the Washi Paper series. If you read the first post, “The Discovery of Paper” at .

In the reference section of this blog post, you can find the link to the parent site from which this article was printed in full.

Washi paper is not only an ancient art in Japan, but many beautiful art forms have come out of its use, such as creative wrappings for gifts, origami paper folding and intricate, paper dolls.

Making washi-paper-like projects are as easy as placing pieces of torn paper and water in a blender and then laying the wet pulp on a piece of screening and adding bits of flowers or other things as decoration. Here is a video to help you through the entire process.


World Papers and Washi

写真 Kozo楮
写真 Gampi雁皮
写真 Tororoaoi黄濁葵
写真 Noriutsugi糊空木

■The development of Japanese washi
Because of its location across the sea east of the coast of the Asian continent, Japan was influenced by China mainly by way of the Korean peninsula. Scripts and paper were first introduced to Japan in the fourth to fifth century, and these symbols of advanced civilization greatly influenced the thinking of the Japanese people. The subsequent introduction of Buddhism to Japan in the sixth century had a major impact. As part of its efforts to disseminate Buddhism, the government increased paper production for the transcription of sutras. People were encouraged to grow kozo, paper mulberry, as a raw material for paper, and Buddhist priests were invited from the Korean peninsula to introduce the new technology. During the high culture of the Tempyo period (eighth century), techniques to manufacture and process paper developed, and papermaking spread nationwide. As demands for paper grew, manufacturers looked for raw materials other than kozo to produce it and discovered gampi, a plant indigenous to Japan. This prompted the transition from the imitation of Chinese paper to the creation of washi, Japan’s own paper. Gampi fibers are delicate and have a natural viscosity, so although forming them into paper requires sophisticated techniques, the finished product is both beautiful and durable. A new method to make paper from hemp and kozo was invented in which the viscous mucilage of tororo-aoi (the root of a hibiscus plant) or noriutsugi bark was added. This method, established in the late eighth century to the ninth century, is today known as nagashizuki. In the Heian period (794-1185), a government – owned paper mill, or kamiyain, was established in Heiankyo (Kyoto), then the capital of Japan, to make paper for official use. The mill also dyed and processed paper and trained technicians. In addition to being used for sutras and official documents, the paper was also used for private correspondence and poetry, helping to promote the development of literature. Kana, or the Japanese syllabary, was invented from kanji, Chinese characters. A unique Japanese culture flourished, becoming free from the influence of the once predominant Chinese culture. With its abundant forests and clear streams, the Japanese environment was highly suited to papermaking, and the Japanese people, who respected nature and its cyclical changing of seasons, took pleasure in making fine papers and using them beautifully. By the time the government moved to Edo (now Tokyo), paper mills around the country were producing papers characteristic of each region. The common people used these papers widely and in this way paper became part of daily life, adding both convenience and beauty, and washi reached its zenith around the 17th century.


See filename. Size of the piece of cloth is 90...
Image via Wikipedia

Furoshiki is a Japanese custom, also called tsutsumi, that uses paper and large pieces of cloth to wrap gifts, presents and packages.

               Japanese Gift-wrapping and Furoshiki



More Images and Sites

Image of Red Wolf Lunch Wrap Set (+ Napkin)

Instructional Videos for Clothe Furoshiki

Folded Flat Furoshiki

How to Tie a Furoshiki for a box( the video is in Japanese, but the directions are still easy to follow.

Fudoshiki Wrapping Techniques

Fudoshiki 1 Basic Knot and Wrapping

Fudoshiki – Reusable Grocery Bag

Fudoshiki Purse

Fudoshiki Purse 2

Related Links:

Inner Pacific: Fabulous Furoshiki


Tea ceremony before Kamogawa Odori.
Kanzashi worn during Tea Ceremony

Kanzashi, hair ornaments, long hair pins are used in traditional Japanese hairstyles while wearing a kimono and as weapons in feudal times. Women of Samurai families used the 6 inch pins, easily concealed in their long hair that not only keep their long hair up, but also as a means of protection from assaults in times of war or from street thugs. The women were trained to use the long, sharp pins as a weapon. They could easily and swiftly remove them from their bundled hair, useful as an element of surprise to pierce an enemy’s throat or other vital organ. Typically used by women, a male samurai with long hair might also use the kansashi to hold his hair in place.

They first appeared during the Jomon Period as a single thin rod or stick. Kanzashi were considered to have mystical powers which could ward off evil spirits. During the Edo period, artisans began to produce more finely crafted products, including some hair ornaments which could also be used as defensive weapons. The craftsmanship reached a high point, with many different styles and designs being created. The most common uses of kanzashi in modern times are in Shinto weddings and use by geisha and maiko, apprentice geisha, and masters in the Japanese tea ceremony. They can also be found in ornmanta flower arrangement such as ikebana or used as an elegant touch to a business suit.

A geisha wears her kanzashi in different ways to indicate her status. Maiko usually wear more numerous and elaborate kanzashi than full-fledged geisha and progress through several hairstyles where the kanzashi must be worn in a fixed pattern.

Typical materials used to make kanzashi are lacquered wood, gold and silver-plated metal,  tortoiseshell, silk, and recently plastic. Early bakelite kanzashi are extremely collectible. Basic styles are complex hana (flower) and seasonal arrangements.

kanzashi 225x300 Kanzashi (Hair Ornaments)

File:Geisha-kyoto-2004-11-21.jpgFile:Maiko serving tea at Kitano Tenmangū 2011-02-25.jpg

Related Articles


Barbaraanne’s Hair Comb Blog

Miriam Slater Kanzashi Collection:

Miriam Slater Collection: Tortoiseshell Kanzashi

Kanzashi Core

Kanzashi: The Deadly Hairpin of the Samurai  html

Barbara’s Hair Comb Blog

Japanese Antiques/Japanese (Hair Ornaments)

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Katsushika Hokusai Part IV “Kachô-e”

Hokusai kacho-e

Katsushika Hokusai‘s studies of birds and flowers, an artistic genre called kachô-e, are the lesser known of all his works. Kachô-e were popular in the early eighteenth century (1720s-1750s) with the Torii school of print makers. Hokusai was the first to develop kachô-e as a truly independent theme for the single-sheet print format.

Hibiscus and Sparrow

Lilies - Katsushika Hokusai -


Bell-Flower and Dragonfly - Katsushika Hokusai - www.katsushikahokusai.orgBell Flower and Dragonfly

Orange Orchids - Katsushika Hokusai -

Orange Orchids

Mount Fuji with Cherry Trees in Bloom - Katsushika Hokusai -

Mount Fuji with Cherry Tree

Plum Blossom and the Moon - Katsushika Hokusai -

Plum Blossom and the Moon

Cranes on a Snowy Pine - Katsushika Hokusai -

Cranes on a Snowy Pine

Peonies and Butterfly - Katsushika Hokusai -

Peonies and Butterfly

Poppies - Katsushika Hokusai -


Branch of Plum - Katsushika Hokusai -

Branch of Plum


Attribution of Hokusai’s Kacho-e

The Art of Katsushika Hokusai Part II “Journey to the Waterfalls in All the Provinces”

Hokusai, self portrait from 1839.
Hokusai, Self Portrait 1839 Image via Wikipedia

“Shokoku taki meguri” are woodblock prints created from views of the most famous waterfalls in Japan and published in 1832. These “Oban yoko-e prints are fluid and alive, contrasting the breathtaking  majesty of nature with the small and fragile human forms nearby. The idealistic images take the viewer to a place found in the vivid imagination of Katsushika Hokusai. So exquisite are the details that one can almost hear the tumbling water crash and roar as its foaming mass sprays the air and crawls over the rocks below .

Oban  is one of three popular print sizes, oban being 10 by 15 inches/25.4 by 38 centimeters in size. Yoko-e is used for a print in the landscape format. Other popular print sizes are  Chuban yoko-e, 7.5 inches by 10/19 centimeters by 25.5, and Aiban yoko-e, 9 by 3inches/22.5 by 34.5 centimeters.

“Kiyo Waterfall by the Kannon Shrine at Sakanoshita, Tokaido Road

“Roben at Oyama in Sagami Province

“Yoro Waterfall in Mino Province

“Amida Waterfall on the Kiso Road”

“Aoigaoka Waterfall in Edo

“The Falls at Ono on the Kiso Road”

“The Waterfall at Yoshino Where Yoshitsune Washed His Horse”

“Kirifuri Waterfall on Mount Kurokami in Shimotsuke Province


Visipix: A world center for visual inspiration

Viewing Japanese Prints/Katsushika Hokusai (1760-1849)

Artelino Japanese Prints

Fuji Arts/A Tour of Japanese Waterfalls (Shokoku taki meguri)

Minamoto no Yoshitune