The Development of Japanese Washi


English: Cranes made by Origami (Washi paper)....
Image via Wikipedia
Wittig.collection.manuscript.01.japanese.art.s...
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 https://lediarunnels27221219.wordpress.com/2012/01/14/the-discovery-of-paper/ .

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. http://video.about.com/familycrafts/How-to-Make-Paper-With-Kids.htm

Enjoy!

World Papers and Washi

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

■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.

The Art of Hokusai Katsushika (1760-1849) Part 1


Katsushika Hokusai is a Japanese artistukiyo-e painter and printmaker of the Edo period. An expert on Chinese painting, he is best-known for his woodblock print series entitled: Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji.

File:Tsunami by hokusai 19th century.jpg

The The Great Wave off Kanagawa

File:Red Fuji southern wind clear morning.jpgSouth Wind, Clear Sky (also known as Red Fuji)

File:Bay of Noboto.jpg

Fuji Bay of Noboto

File:Asakusa Honganji temple in th Eastern capital.jpg

Asakusa Hongan-ji temple in the Eastern capital [Edo]

File:Fujimi Fuji view field in the Owari province.jpg

View Field in Owari Province

WEB LINKS

Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji     http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thirty-six_Views_of_Mount_Fuji

The Death Rock (Japanese Mythology)


Tamamo-no-Mae, a legendary kitsune featured in...
Image via Wikipedia

In the summertime of old Japan, when the oppressive heat and humidity rendered daylight activity all but unbearable, people longed for the night and the scant relief brought by the setting sun. There, amidst a chorus of frogs and insects serenading the coming of the dance of the dead, the people played a game called, “A Gathering of 100 Ghostly Tales”, and silently the spirits would return.

100 lit candles were placed in a circle, and the players each told a ghoulish tale. As each tale ended, the storyteller doused a single candle. As the light slowly faded the tension rose. The game was said to be a ritual of evocation, the expiration of each story and each candle summoned more spiritual energy, transforming the room into a beacon for the dead. With the vanishing of the final light, someone or something terrible was found waiting in the darkness… This story is for the first lit candle…

You sit the garden near the Palace in the once Imperial City of Kyoto. It is a beautiful spring day. In fact you are fortunate to have planned your visit to Japan the very day the cherry blossoms are at the most glorious. As you admire the scenery, a young woman happens by and sits on the bench near you. When she turns your way, she smiles sweetly and asks if you have ever heard the story of Tamamo-no-Mae? You shrug and tell her it is your first day in Japan and no you have never heard the story.

Again, the young woman smiles sweetly and gets a far off look in her eyes. This is when you see the smooth, black stone she holds in her hands. It has the glossy look of obsidian, the kind of rock thrown millennia before from the pit of Mount Fuji. You find it odd that the young woman is caressing the glossy stone as if it is a pet of some sort.

You’re not sure why, but a shiver runs up your spine at this particular moment. Your first inclination is to jump up and hurry back to your hotel. But you stay thinking how silly you are being on such a beautiful day with such a pleasant companion to talk to.

As the young woman continues to pet her stone, she begins to tell a story, of a priest named, Gennoh who decided to see the world, so the next morning he and his servant packed their belongings and left the city. One day on their journey, they were crossing a field when they saw a bird fall dead from the sky. They found out in the village that the bird had flown to near Nasuno, the death stone.

A village woman told the priest and his servant, “It is a good thing you did not go too close. You see, the stone steals the life from whatever touches it. Inside the stone is the spirit of Lady Tamamo-no-Mae.

“Who?” the priest asked, confused as to the significance of the spirit.

The woman shook her head and continued. “It is said that the spirit that resides inside the death rock once destroyed kings in both India and China and was later a consort to the Japanese Emperor, Toba. Tamamo-no-mae was her name. She was both beautiful and wise, but her heart was filled with evil.

“Late one night during a concert at the end of autumn, all the lamps in the emperor’s garden suddenly blew out. To everyone’s horror and amazement, Tamamo-no-mae began to glow like the full moon. Soon after this, Emperor Toba became deathly ill.

“His Astrologer cast the Emperor’s fortune and found that it was Tamamo-no-mae who had caused the Emperor’s illness.

The Astrologer began an exorcism which in turn caused Tamamo-no-mae to writhe in torment. To escape her punishment, she leapt into the air and landed far away on the Nasuno plain.

“But the Emperor sent warriors to find and destroy her. They chased her into a trench and shot arrows at her until her life drained away. It was then that she became the Death-Rock, which has killed all who come too close.”

The young woman sitting near to you smiles once again, but this time you see a gleam in her dark eyes that can only be described as feral. Again, you shiver, but not from the cold.

The young woman rises from the bench. Her back is to you now, but she is still speaking. “That day, Gennoh, the priest did a second exorcism on the stone. The spirit of Tomama-no-mae appeared, begging forgiveness, promising to do good all the rest of her days.”

Silence falls across the garden and you wait to hear the rest of the story. Instead, the young woman walks away. As she does, you see a swishing fox tail following directly behind her and a pale radiance like the moon glowing out from her body.

Much to your horror, your throat begins to feel tight as if someone’s fingers clench around your windpipe. You find that you can no longer draw a breath. In your desperation you look down to see the black stone the young woman was holding now sits on the bench only a foot or so from you. You reach out as if to knock the rock to the ground. Instead, you collapse beneath the bench where only moments before you sat upright.

A couple, walking in the garden, sees your distress and hurries toward. You try to tell them not to come closer. You gesture toward the glistening black rock that seems to writhe as if alive. But the words stick in your throat. You hear jeering laughter like the wind whistling through the tree tops. The next instant everything goes dark as the first candle is blown out…

Image Source

http://www.google.com/imgres?q=Tamamo-no-mae&hl=en&sa=X&nord=1&biw=1600&bih=775&tbm=isch&prmd=imvns&tbnid=aGIUAAOdgqr8VM:&imgrefurl=http://www.japanfiles.com/japanfiles-review-onmyo-za-kongo-kyuubi.html&docid=

Tales of Ghostly Japan:  http://www.seekjapan.jp/article-2/766/Tales+of+Ghostly+Japan

Tamama-no-Mae: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tamamo-no-Mae

Images of Tamama-no-Mae: http://www.google.com/search?q=Tamamo-no-mae&hl=en&nord=1&biw=1600&bih=775&site=webhp&prmd=imvns&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ei=PJeuTsDfOIOasgLajaWdDw&sqi=2&ved=0CDQQsAQ

The Nightingale Floor (Kyoto, Japan)


Main gate to Ninomaru palace
Image by thaths via Flickr

Are you secretly a ninja? Here is a test. It is the dead of night when you enter Nijo Castle. Everyone is asleep except for the two guards that were served a special tea flavored secretly by you. They now snore unaware at their posts. Tomorrow, they may lose their heads because of you.

You are dressed as a lowly peasant though your warlord master pays you sweetly for your work as a spy. In fact you are actually a samurai in disguise. Your katana is tucked inside your robe tie. You never know when you may need it. You have all the right equipment, but the true test comes when you step onto the nightingale floor. If it “sings” you are dead…

Built 400 years ago by Tokugawa Ieyasu, the founder of the Edo shogunate, Nijo Castle is situated so that it guarded the once Imperial city. It actually resembles the Imperial Palace in Kyoto. When all the floors were laid throughout the castle, they were suspended in a special way above the frame using a particular type of iron clamp so that the floor moves up and down when walked upon. The nails rub against the wood creating a sound like the cheeping of nightingales. Only a trained ninja can walk across the floor without making it “sing”.

Other places to find nightingale floors are:

Daikaku-ji temple in Kyoto

Chio-in temple in Kyoto

Toji-in temple in Kyoto

References:

YouTube demonstration of a “Nightingale Floor” http://is.gd/jEBhr

Common Misconception Concerning Ninja http://www.chinatownconnection.com/misconception-ninja.htm

Zen-garden.org “Nightingale floor, Uguisubari”  http://www.zen-garden.org/html/page_nightingalefloor.htm