Vol.25 August 2009
- House of Representatives Dissolved: General Election to Be Held on August 30
- First Japanese to Complete Extended Stay on the International Space Station
- Farewell Reception for 2009 JET Participants
- Bon Appétit with Self-Made Japanese Dishes!
- Visit Japan-World Heritage Sites in Japan: Yakushima
- Culture Connection -Netsuke - The Art of Utility
- From the Ambassador's Desk
- Inori : Japanese Calligraphy Exhibition by Fuyoh Kobayashi
- Arisumi Mitamura Urushi Art: Glittering Moments in Time
- Event Calendar
Following the July 21 dissolution of the House of Representatives by Prime Minister Aso’s cabinet, on August 18, the 45th general election was officially announced to take place on August 30. A midsummer election campaign has thus begun. The period of 40 days from dissolution to voting is the longest permitted by the Constitution. More than 1,300 candidates are scheduled to run in the 480-seat House of Representatives election, which is the fifth since the present electoral system combined single-seat constituencies and proportional representation. According to the media reports, the main focal point of the upcoming general election is which side the voters will choose as the most appropriate to hold the reins of government, the current ruling parties, the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and the New Komeito, or the opposition centered on the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ).
In the previous general election held in September 2005, then Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, who cast the race as being about “postal privatization as the bastion of reform,” led the LDP to a landslide victory. Since then, the LDP, together with junior coalition partner New Komeito, has maintained a majority of more than two-thirds in the House of Representatives. Koizumi, after the end of his term as LDP party president, was succeeded as prime minister by Shinzo Abe, Yasuo Fukuda, and then Taro Aso, without any general election taking place. In this first general election in four years, the ruling and opposition parties are fiercely sparring over the ruling coalition’s policies and their impact on the lives of the people.
At a press conference held on July 21, Prime Minister Aso, president of the LDP, named the upcoming general election "an election to create a peace-of-mind society." He said, “ This election is to clarify responsibility for governing, namely, which party will safeguard Japan and the daily lives of the Japanese people.” Meanwhile, DPJ President Yukio Hatoyama dubbed the upcoming election as the “ change-of-government election.” The DPJ’s minimum target, he said, was to become the number-one party in the House of Representatives, and it would aim to secure a majority of seats by cooperating with other opposition parties.
Photo creidt Cabinet Public Relations Office
On July 31, the LDP unveiled the party’s manifesto for the upcoming election for the House of Representatives. It sets forth important policies under the three main pillars of “peace of mind,” “vitality,” and “responsibility.” Under the category of “peace of mind,” the manifesto outlines such measures as introducing a social security number and card system in fiscal 2011; reducing educational fees for preschool children aged 3 to 5 years and completely abolishing these fees in three years' time; and establishing a benefit-type scholarship system for senior high school and university students. Regarding the problem of tax reform, the manifesto states that the LDP will enact legislation on tax reform by fiscal 2011 and implement measures without delay once the economic situation has improved. However, it makes no specific mention of the size and date of a consumption tax hike.
Under the category of “vitality,” the manifesto states clearly that the LDP will realize economic growth through a low-carbon revolution and other measures and, in order to promote drastic decentralization, enact a basic law on the doshusei (new regional system of government) as soon as possible. As specific targets for economic growth, the manifesto sets forth, among others, (1) the realization of an annual economic growth rate of 2% in the latter half of fiscal 2010; (2) the creation of 40–60 trillion yen worth of demand and the securing of jobs for approximately 2 million people over the next 3 years; and (3) an increase of household disposable income by 1 million yen and the raising of national income to the highest level in the world over the next decade.
Under the category of “responsibility,” the LDP manifesto states clearly that the LDP supports the implementation of security measures enabling the interception of US-bound ballistic missiles launched by North Korea and the protection of US navy vessels. The initial draft of the manifesto mentioned a revision of the government’s interpretation of the Constitution regarding the right to collective self-defense, but this reference was omitted from the final document in consideration of objections within the LDP (Asahi Shimbun, August 1).
In the meantime, Democratic Party of Japan announced the manifesto of its pledges for the election on July 27. It proposes priority policies in 5 areas: wasteful spending, child-raising and education, pensions and medical care, regional sovereignty, and employment and the economy. Bringing support for the people’s livelihood to the fore, it proposes such measures as the establishment of a child allowance providing a monthly sum of 26,000 yen per child until graduation from junior high school; the elimination of public senior high school tuition fees; the abolition of highway tolls; and the establishment of an agricultural household income compensation scheme.
The manifesto includes a four-year schedule showing that some main policies would be implemented from fiscal 2010 and indicating the budget amounts that would be necessary. For the first fiscal year, it cites a total figure of 7.1 trillion yen for the introduction of the child allowance (half of the eventual monthly benefit, that is, 13,000 yen per child); elimination of tuition fees for public senior high schools; abolition of provisional rates for the gasoline tax and other taxes; and other measures. In fiscal 2013, when the new policies would be fully implemented, total financial sources of 16.8 trillion yen would be necessary. The DPJ argues that this sum could be covered by, among other things, completely reorganizing the budget and eliminating wasteful expenditure.
Furthermore, as the concept of government management for the realization of these policies, the DPJ's manifesto proposes a decision-making system led by politicians rather than bureaucrats, including (1) the assignment of more than 100 members of the Diet to the government, including ministers, senior vice-ministers, and parliamentary secretaries, and (2) the establishment of a National Strategy Bureau reporting directly to the prime minister to decide on the national vision and budget outline. At the press conference, Mr. Hatoyama said, “In place of the bureaucracy-led politics that has continued since the Meiji Restoration [in the 19th century], we will build a political system in which the people are the main actors. It will be a historic shift” (Mainichi Shimbun, July 28).
Regarding foreign policy, the manifesto clearly states the DPJ’s position of emphasizing Japan-US relations, declaring that the DPJ “will build a close and equal Japan-US allied relationship.” Regarding the Japan-US Status of Forces Agreement, which previously the DPJ had said required drastic revision, the manifesto goes no further than saying that “a revision will be proposed.” In addition, the manifesto does not mention the refueling operation by the Maritime Self-Defense Force in the Indian Ocean, to which the DPJ had previously declared its opposition. The Asahi Shimbun (July 28) commented, “The DPJ has left room so that it can respond flexibly after a change of government.”
© 2009 Foreign Press Center, Japan
This article is in part based on Japan Brief/FPCJ, No. 0940, 0942,0944 and 0947. Japan Brief is an original production of the Foreign Press Center, Japan, and does not represent the views of the Government of Japan or of any other body.
Space Shuttle Endeavour Returns Astronaut Wakata to Earth, First Japanese to Complete Extended Stay on the International Space Station
The Space Shuttle Endeavour landed at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center on July 31. On board was the Japanese astronaut Koichi Wakata, who successfully spent 137 days in space on the International Space Station (ISS). As part of the longest mission ever for a Japanese astronaut, Wakata’s duties included the assembly of the Japanese Experiment Module (JEM) called "Kibo", or “hope” in Japanese. Kibo is Japan's first manned space facility and the first contribution by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) to the ISS program. At a news conference just after landing, astronaut Wakata reportedly said, “When the hatch opened, I smelled the grass from the ground and was glad to be back home.”
Kibo, ISS’s Space Laboratory
The ISS is a large-scale facility built and operated by a consortium of 15 countries - including the United States, Russia, Canada, several European nations and Japan. Japan’s participation is through the assembly of the JEM Kibo, which is a permanent on-orbit laboratory that provides both pressurized and exposed experiment environments. Docking and assembly operations of Kibo with the ISS started in March 2008 and were completed on July 19, 2009, according to JAXA.
Kibo consists of two main facilities. The Pressurized Module (PM), which is 11.2m (36.7ft) long and 4.4m (14.4 ft) in diameter, will allow astronauts to work in a comfortable environment with air composition and pressure similar to that of Earth. The Exposed Facility (EF) will be a staging area for long-term experiments in open space, as well as Earth and astronomical observations. The EF is a unique facility that enables astronauts to conduct experiments with direct exposure to space.
One of the most important roles for Kibo is the study of the Earth’s environment. Today, the Earth is faced with serious environmental issues such as the depletion of the ozone layer, global warming and desertification. Kibo will enable the study of these problems from space, and may discover how to solve them. Also, the world’s largest wide-angle X-ray camera will be mounted on the platform to make observations of space, examining phenomena beyond our galaxy, and refining our map of the distribution of galaxies. Microgravity experiments conducted in space will produce larger and more uniformly-sized protein crystals that will help scientists better understand disease mechanisms and may lead to the development of new medicines. Kibo will also be the site of studies on the influence of microgravity and radiation on plants, animals and humans, as well as experiments in robotics, communications, and energy.
Astronaut Koichi Wakata, born in 1963 in Saitama, Japan, was selected to be an astronaut candidate by the National Space Development Agency of Japan (NASDA) in 1992. In January, 1996, Dr. Wakata flew as the first Japanese Mission Specialist on STS-72 aboard the Space Shuttle Endeavour and performed several tasks including robotics operations for the retrieval of the Japanese Space Flyer Unit satellite (launched by a Japanese H-II rocket in March 1995). In October 2000, he became the first Japanese astronaut to work on the ISS assembly on STS-92 aboard the Space Shuttle Discovery. He was responsible for robotics operations to install the Z-1 Truss and Pressurized Mating Adapter-3 to the ISS as well as spacewalk support.
The very first JAXA astronaut to fly in space on the Space Shuttle was Mamoru Mohri. Since that flight in 1992, Astronauts Chiaki Mukai, Kouichi Wakata, Takao Doi, Soichi Noguchi and Akihiko Hoshide have all successfully completed missions. In addition, Astronauts Satoshi Furukawa and Naoko Yamazaki are currently training for their upcoming space flights, mainly at NASA and JAXA.
Japanese Space Exploration
In addition to the experiment module on ISS, various Japanese satellites are currently in orbit and performing missions in a wide range of areas. These include communications and weather observation, disaster prevention, and astronomical observation and space development.
For example, the "IBUKI" (GOSAT) satellite was placed in orbit by Japan in 2009 to observe the concentration and distribution of greenhouse gases that cause global warming, and to help reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions (For more information, visit: www.jaxa.jp/projects/sat/gosat/index_e.html). Japan’s advanced land observing satellite, the “Daichi” (ALOS), is one of the largest of its kind and is expected to contribute to the fields of mapping, precise regional land coverage observation, disaster monitoring, and resource surveying. The “KIZUNA” (WINDS) is a communications satellite that enables super high-speed data communications of up to 1.2 Gbps to help solve the problem of information disparity around the world. It will contribute to “remote medicine”, enabling everyone to receive medical treatment regardless of time and location by transmitting clear images of the patient’s conditions to a doctor. Also, disaster areas and schools in remote areas can exchange information easily and swiftly through KIZUNA in space. The "KAGUYA" (SELENE), Japan’s first large lunar explorer, was launched by H-IIA rocket on September 14, 2007. The mission marked the largest lunar program since Apollo. KAGUYA studied the entire moon to obtain information on its elemental and mineralogical composition, its geography, its surface and sub-surface structure, remnants of its magnetic field and gravity field, all with the goal of understanding the Moon’s origin and evolution. The mission was successfully completed when the explorer was dropped onto the moon’s surface in a controlled crash on June 11, 2009.
Reference: Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA)
On July 24, the Japan Exchange and Teaching Program (JET) Farewell Reception 2009 was held at the residence of Ambassador Nishimiya. This year, 106 participants from the New York area departed for Japan to assume positions as Assistant Language Teachers (ALT) and as Coordinators for International Relations (CIR) in various locations throughout Japan.
The reception was held the night before their departure. Ambassador Nishimiya congratulated the participants’ acceptance to the program and wished all members the best of luck and much success in their new positions. He said in his speech, “Being a JET is more than a job title…it is about being a representative, a role model, and a cultural ambassador. That can be difficult at times, but mostly I think you will find it a wonderful and defining experience in your young lives”. Ms. Megan Miller, President of the JET Alumni Association (JETAA) of New York gave some warm remarks to encourage the new JETs. And finally, Mr. Matthew Wypycha, who spoke on behalf of the departees, expressed his hopes and expectations of being a JET.
Launched in 1987, the JET program is aimed at building international understanding at grassroots level, fostering cross-cultural awareness, as well as developing Japanese students’ practical language skills. To date, approximately 50,000 young people from around the globe have worked in Japan as part of this program, more than half of which were Americans. This year, nationwide, over 850 highly motivated people were selected to take part in this program and set out to begin a new chapter in their lives.
Even after returning home, JET participants continue to play a significant role building bridges between the U.S. and Japan in their own communities. JETAA of New York is very active in fostering a vibrant community of former JETs and helping former JETs remain close with the Japanese local communities. They organize various events including career forums for JET participants, with the assistance of the Council of Local Authorities for International Relations (CLAIR) and the Consulate General of Japan. The members of JETAANY also play an important role in pre-departure seminar, which is held for new JETs one month prior to the departure. (For more information on JETAANY, please visit: http://jetaany.org/)
Bon Appétit with Self-Made Japanese Dishes!
Nowadays you can find Japanese restaurants almost everywhere in the US, but have you ever tried to cook Japanese food at home? You may think that only highly skilled, professional chefs can prepare what you may think of as authentic “Japanese cuisine”. Actually, Japanese food is easy to cook at home. J-simplerecipes.com offers various recipes for simple but truly Japanese meals that people eat on a daily basis in Japan.
Ms. Manami Imai and her brother, Mr. Kenji Imai, who both live in Japan, set up J-simplerecipes.com. They collected simple Japanese recipes, thinking that although it has gained huge popularity abroad, many people may not actually know much about how to cook Japanese food. The website provides basic knowledge on “Typical Meals” for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and “Foodstuffs” such as dried bonito, dried sea tangle, soy sauce, wasabi and tofu, common ingredients of Japanese food. In addition, the website offers practical tips for serving and eating Japanese cuisine. For example, meals are typically composed of a main dish, various sides, steamed rice and miso soup. And all these dishes are often served together, not in separate courses. The how-to and how-not-to of using chopsticks is also explained.
- J-simplerecipes.com aims to present simple, healthy and delicious dishes:
- All the recipes are very simple, so they can be part of your daily life! Every recipe on the website comes with photos and step-by-step cooking directions, so anyone can easily follow them.
- Even if you eat a little too much, don’t worry! The Japanese cuisine contains many healthy low-calorie foods.
- Healthy, easy-to-cook food means not delicious? J-Simple Recipes.com shows otherwise.
The World Heritage Sites in Japan: Yakushima
Yakushima is a round-shaped island situated approximately 37 miles south from the southern end of Osumi Peninsula in the southern part of Kagoshima prefecture. One fifth of the island is registered as a natural heritage site. There are as many as 6 mountain peaks over 1,800m (5,900 ft) high including Miyanoura-dake (1,935m or 6,348 ft above sea level), the highest mountain in Kyushu, and this is what gives the island its other name, the “Alps on the Ocean”.
The bedrock of the island is granite, and it is said that a ridge thrown up by movement in the earth's crust is what formed the island. The influence of the climate and air masses is very complex, and the main feature of this area is that temperature and seasonal changes are the largest on earth. It is possible to see plants from both subtropical zones and cold temperate zones on the island. It rains so much in this area that it is said that it “rains 35 days of the month”, and we can see many rare animals and plants due to the abundance of water and the changes in temperature at different altitudes. The range of flora is very wide, from coral reefs to alpine plants, and among the animals, there are those that display traits unique to Yakushima such as the Yaku monkey and Yaku deer.
©Yasufumi Nishi/ JNTO
The term 'Yaku sugi (Japanese cedar)', the symbol of Yakushima, is used only for cedar trees over 1000 years old. Yaku sugi growing in the area covered by clouds and mist sometimes extend roots even from the leaves and stalks and form themselves into strange shapes. A cedar discovered in 1996 and situated at an altitude of 1350m (4,430 ft) is assumed to be the largest and the oldest in the world, and is called 'Jomon sugi' (there are various theories as to its age, from 2170 to 7200 years old).
Apart from this, there are many other good sightseeing spots such as 'Shiratani Unsuikyo' where you can take a walk in the forest of Yaku sugi; 'Hirauchi Kaichu Onsen' where you can bathe in a spa right next to the sea; 'Ooko-no-taki' as the tallest waterfall with the largest amount of water in Yakushima and selected as one of the 100 waterfalls of Japan; 'Senpiro-no-taki' where the water falls approximately 66m (217 ft ) on to a gigantic granite monolith; 'Yakushima lighthouse' where you can see the deep blue ocean spreading out to the horizon and a beautiful sandy beach 'Sango-no-hama (coral shore)' that is known as a spot where you can collect star-shaped sand. If you want to experience canoeing or forest bathing or take a tour of the whole island with a veteran guide, it would be a good idea to book a reservation on a tour.
©Yasufumi Nishi/ JNTO
© Kagoshima Prefectural Tourist Federation
© Kagoshima Prefectural Tourist Federation
Copyright © 2009 Japan National Tourism Organization
Netsuke - The Art of Utility
By Michael J. Strone, Esq.
From the Author’s Collection.
On July 6, 2009, at a reception sponsored by Kokoro Japanese Art Advisors (www.japanart.us) at the New York Palace Hotel during the 17th Biennial International Netsuke Convention, Ambassador Shinichi Nishimiya presented to Ryushi Komada the inaugural Bronze Hakutaku Award for a lifetime of achievement as a netsuke artist. Ryushi thus became the first Living international Treasure in the art of netsuke carving.
The Ambassador’s graciousness in giving up his Sunday evening for art’s sake reflected his newfound awareness about the critical need for Japanese national support for their own arts. Education about netsuke is paramount as very few Japanese had ever heard of this form of art, much less collected it. Perhaps such unfamiliarity about netsuke may be more widespread than first thought and, thus, an explanation is in order.
Photograph courtesy of the International Netsuke Society
A netsuke (pronounced “nets-kay”) is simply a counterweight—a terminus that prevents something suspended from it—the inro (lacquer multi-tiered box) money purse and/or smoking utensil –from slipping through the obi (sash) of the kimono that every Japanese gentleman wore prior to the adoption of Western dress by Emperor Meiji in 1868 as Japan was reopened to the West after a 200-year hiatus. Of course, kimono have no pockets, engendering the development of the sagemono (lit., “hanging thing”), this ingenious alternate solution for portable storage of money, a hanko (seal), tobacco, medicinal herbs, etc.
One of the phenomena of Japanese culture is its tradition to imbue beauty into everyday life. The presentation of food is as much a delight for the eye as it is for the palate; floral arrangements are elevated to the art form of ikebana; room dividers become magnificently painted shoji (folding screens); even the mundane tea service transmutes into the art of the tea ceremony. In any other culture, the beautiful miniature sculpture that we call netsuke would have been a simple unadorned button. The Japanese æsthetic demands that this simple button becomes an art form—art born of utility.
From the Author’s Collection.
At first, about 350 years ago, netsuke began as a chunk of root with two holes in it through which to pass the cord that links it to the thing being suspended. Its development as art is attributable, paradoxically, to the restrictive sumptuary laws of the reigning bakufu (shogunate) who decreed that no one below a certain rank was permitted any outward display of wealth. The netsuke could easily be concealed in the folds of the kimono and, as such, became one of the preferred means by which a merchant might clandestinely show off his status to his peers.
The earliest of netsuke carvers are shrouded in anonymity. These early pieces tend to be of mythological personages and animals, many of which are of Chinese origin. That many of the early ivory netsuke are on bases that have uncarved bottoms is perhaps an indication that these were sawed-off adapted Chinese seals converted to a new use in Japan. Toward the end of the 18th century, many a netsuke began to carry the signature of its creator. The status of these craftsmen, however, was always at the low-end of the artisan chain. Despite their manifest skill, their talents went unrecorded and unstudied which makes accurate dating very difficult.
From the Author’s Collection.
It was not until the Meiji Reformation that netsuke began to be appreciated as collectible art—and, even then, only as exported to the West. The Japanese people have been late to appreciate their own cultural patrimony with respect to the art of netsuke. It is an honor to have the opportunity to increase the awareness of those who have not had the privilege of experiencing this special form of Japanese art.
From a Private Collection
In the past 140 years, netsuke have been the passion for several generations of collectors of a tradition that itself has been handed down to successive generations of carvers. Ryushi has been carving netsuke for more than 50 years and his work is unquestionably beautiful. His proudest achievements, however, are his students to whom he is passing the wonderful tradition with which he has been entrusted. May it never cease.
Michael J. Strone, Esq. is Principal of Kokoro Japanese Art Advisors and Vice President of International Netsuke Society. He served as Convention Chair of the 2009 Hakutaku Convention of the International Netsuke Society. Mr. Strone is based in Harrison, NY.
©Gateway Clipper, VisitPittsburgh
As many Americans do, I recently went on a summer vacation. In late July and early August, I took two weeks off, for the first time since I assumed office in March, and visited Grand Canyon National Park and other places on the West Coast. Having enjoyed those great natural wonders, I feel refreshed and ready for an eventful month of September.
In September, a number of important events will take place in and around New York, including the United Nations General Assembly, and a high level UN meeting about climate change, an issue with which Japan has been actively involved as a leading nation. Also, the G20 Summit Meeting will be held in Pittsburgh, where leaders representing 85% of the world economy will come together to take stock of the progress made since the Washington and London summits and to discuss further actions. With only a few weeks left before these events take place, I can feel the tension rising among those involved in the preparations. Regardless of the results of the upcoming general election on August 30, I am certain that Japan will remain committed to resolving global issues in cooperation with the international community. We at the Consulate and all of the Foreign Ministry staff will do our best to make these important conferences successful.
As you already know, Pittsburgh was selected as the venue for the above-mentioned G20 Summit. I think Pittsburgh is the perfect stage to host a conference on the global economic crisis. Once known for its steel industry, the city has evolved a balanced, resilient and innovation-driven economy, and it now serves as a model of urban revitalization employing green technology. In the next few days, I will visit the Steel City to take a look at the various locations to be used for the conferences, as well as to meet with Mayor Ravenstahl, among others. I look forward to making the most of the visit.
Inori : Japanese Calligraphy Exhibition by Fuyoh Kobayashi
Courtesy of the Nippon Club
Japanese calligraphy and lacquer ware are this country's quintessential traditional art and craft, respectively. From September 9 to15, The Nippon Club will be hosting an art show of Japanese calligraphy entitled Inori: Japanese Calligraphy Exhibition by Fuyoh Kobayashi at The Nippon Gallery. It will be Ms. Kobayashi's first New York exhibition, featuring fifty-five of her works including framed pictures, hanging scrolls, and fans.
Fuyoh Kobayashi's works are considered modern calligraphic art. Many children growing up in Japan are accustomed to taking calligraphy classes at some point in their schooling. Sitting on a tatami floor, children are taught to focus on drawing Japanese characters with brush and ink. This form of calligraphy is considered part of learning the art of writing. Kobayashi approaches calligraphy as a visual art where the characters are part of playful figures and forms. At Inori, viewers are able to enjoy her world of art through the brushstrokes of Japanese characters.
Courtesy of the Nippon Club
Kobayashi grew up in a very religious Buddhist family surrounded by Buddhist literature. As a very young child, she was fascinated by written characters and took up the study of calligraphy, studying the basic calligraphic text called Senjimon (One Thousand Characters). After moving to Australia for her husband's work, she taught calligraphy and haiku-style painting at the Japanese Department of the Australian National University from 1976 to 1977. There, she was surprised to find that her works were accepted and appreciated by viewers without apprehension or hesitation. They seemed to be able to perceive the meaning of her works and enjoy them without any knowledge of the Japanese language. She came to realize that the hieroglyphic nature of the characters was able to overcome the borders of nationality, speech, and tradition.
The word inori means "pray" in Japanese. Kobayashi has always incorporated feelings of peace and love into her work. Her Inori exhibition conveys her belief in creating a peaceful world of spirituality. Visitors can enjoy her different expressions of peace and love by viewing her art.
Arisumi Mitamura Urushi Art: Glittering Moments in Time
Courtesy of the Nippon Club
Fans of Japanese lacquer ware should not miss the rare opportunity to view exquisite Edo-style makie (sprinkled picture lacquer) at The Nippon Club's Nippon Gallery from September 22 to 28. Arisumi Mitamura Urushi Art: Glittering Moments in Time - A Tradition of Edo Gold-Sprinkled Lacquer showcases 80 works of Arisumi Mitamura as well as those of past makie masters' for the first time in New York City.
Lacquer ware, for those unfamiliar with the craft, are the objects covered with a resin-based varnish derived from a tree indigenous to Asia. Known as urushi in Japanese, this lacquer produces a durable finish that is resistant to damage by water, acid, alkali or abrasion. Lacquer has been used in Japan for more than a thousand years for various purposes from Buddha figures to plates and bento boxes.
Makie is a decorative technique using lacquer sprinkled with gold or silver powder as decoration. The artist draws a pattern on an object using lacquer, and sprinkles the powder over it to create an iridescent effect. This technique was developed over a period encompassing the 8th to 12th centuries, and blossomed during the Edo period (1603 -1867). Today, makie tradition is highly appreciated not only in Japan but also around the world.
Courtesy of the Nippon Club
Representing the 10th generation of the Akatsuka style of Edo makie, Mitamura has been crafting lacquer ware for more than 40 years and has applied his craftsmanship to a modern art genre. Arisumi Mitamura Urushi Art shows two aspects of the artist: the current Mitamura's contemporary approach to the craft and the old master Mitamura's traditional works, giving the visitors an overview of how a Japanese practitioner has transformed an artisanal craft into a new art form. The exhibition will also include works from past Edo makie masters like Jitoku Akatsuka and Tairei Takai.
|Performing Arts & Films|