30 October, 2011

Japanese Candle Making

  This week, I went to Kitano-kobo-no-machi, or Kitano Meister Garden, in Kobe to experience Japanese candle making. Kitano Meister Garden, housed in a former elementary school building includes many Kobe brand-name stores, from sweets to traditional craft work. One of these stores is Matsumoto Shoten, a store specializing in Japanese candles. The main store is in Nishinomiya city, but you can experience creating your very own Japanese candle at Kitano Meister Garden.

Matsumoto Shoten at Kitano Meister Garden

 The candles we usually see are made from paraffin, but Japanese candles are all carefully handmade from a substance called Mokuro. Mokuro is a type of wax created from the seeds of what is commonly known as the wax tree, or Hazenoki in Japanese. With a history dating back to the early Edo era, Matsumoto Shoten is the only Japanese candle store in the entire prefecture, so creating a Japanese candle there was a very special experience.  

Wax tree Seeds and Mokuro

20 October, 2011

Tombodama Making

I went to the Kobe Tombodama Museum, also known as the Kobe Lampwork Glass Museum, to make “tombodama”, or lampwork glass beads.


Kobe Tombodama Museum

Tombodama, or Dragonfly balls, were named because they resemble the eyes of dragonflies.
Long ago, the fire from a lamp was used to make these beads, so they are called lampwork beads in English.

17 October, 2011

Experiencing Tamba-style Pottery

We’re starting our new topic, “Experiencing Hyogo’s Art.” Today, we’re going to introduce Tamba-yaki, a style of pottery from the Tamba region.
              Tamba Tachikui pottery is one of the six oldest potteries in Japan. The City of Sasayama in Hyogo is home to over 60 pottery makers with a history of over 800 years.
              Tamba-yaki is created using a climbing kiln. It is baked for 60 hours at a temperature of 1300°C. As a result, pine wood used to build the fire turns into ashes and covers part of the pottery. This gives unique designs to each pottery and is one of the biggest characteristics of Tamba-yaki pottery.
              Since the start, Tamba-yaki was mainly used as items for everyday use, so the simplicity of Tamba-yaki pottery is another major characteristic. 

                                    A Climbing Kiln                               Pottery Covered in Ashes

03 October, 2011

Japanese Historical Architecture and its Culture

  Recently Shark and Soo took Jan, a college intern at the Hyogo Tourism Association, to Takenaka Carpentry Tools Museum to learn about the history of Japanese architecture and carpentry. Built in 1984, this museum displays traditional tools used to make Japan’s historical wooden architecture, and many more. Let’s take a tour to see the heart and skill of Japanese craftsmen.