Monday, December 25, 2017

Off to Tosa Yamada to find out more about Tosa Blades

The first step in making a sickle:
wedge steel in between the iron, melt
it in a forge that is of 1000 degrees
Celsius, and hit it with a hammer.
   There are many different kinds of blacksmith shops in Kochi, producing anything from sickles and saws to knives and axes. Various essential tools supporting Kochi’s forestry industry have been made by these blacksmiths, and Tosa-hamono (lit. “Tosa Blades”) is famous for these tools.
   Our destination today was a blacksmith shop just a few minutes by car from the Tosa Hamono Exchange Center in Kochi Prefecture’s Kami-shi Tosayamada-cho, past the expansive greenhouses growing spring onions and chives. There, Mr. Satoshi Yamashita, a craftsman well-versed in the traditional art of Tosa Uchi-hamono, was in the process of making a sickle.

Information gathered at the Kochi Prefecture Coral Association

   Have you ever heard of a coral wedding anniversary? It’s the 35th anniversary of a wedding. Why not gift a coral product to your parents on the day? People may think of accessories and jewelry when coral products are mentioned, but they are actually used in various ways depending on application and through blending Japanese and Western influences, such as good luck charms, ornaments, tea caddies used for tea ceremonies, incense burners, Buddha statues, and picture frames. What makes coral attractive is that it lives in the deep sea and grows slowly, with some varieties taking up to 50 years to grow one centimeter, and it is also beloved because of its rarity. Additionally, because of the fact that coral grows by absorbing free-swimming coral larvae, it can be said that it is a natural work of art. There are no two identical corals as they are made within the natural cycle.

Painting the healing powers of coral raised in Kochi’s nature: Japanese painter, Akemi Ochi

Ms. Ochi and Cho CIR
  I can’t believe there are ways to use coral other than for accessories. That surprise was our first impression. “I’m painting pictures by borrowing power from coral. It’s because Kochi’s beautiful ocean exists. The color and texture of coral contains healing properties for people,” says Ms. Ochi. Ms. Ochi’s works involve various materials such as silver leaf and vivid colors, and they all come together beautifully. Ground coral provides a refreshing warm hue on top. This is a traditional technique used in Japanese paintings, and although it is common to use ground natural minerals as painting material, Ms. Ochi uses materials homemade from refined Kochi coral instead of store-bought materials. This is all pasted on with a glue called “nikawa”. The lumpy texture of actual coral has a spatial effect, and makes the entire art piece stand out. In addition to this, it is said that the color of coral does not fade much over the years. The contrast with materials such as silver leaf, which changes color over time, is beautiful because of this.

Kochi Lifestyle Q&A : What are the traffic rules for bicycles?

   It has now been 2 years since I came to Japan. One area where I felt the cultural difference was with “bicycles”. (I come from South Korea). I saw people of all ages and genders riding bicycles in their daily lives, and felt that Japan was like a kingdom of bicycles. Furthermore, by riding a bicycle in my everyday life, I understood that there were many rules regarding their use. Therefore, this time I would like to introduce the rules for cycling in Japan- the kingdom of bicycles- for those like me who may not have normally cycled back in their home country, or for those for whom the rules differ to those in their culture.

   Firstly, the main premise of these rules is that bicycles are the same as cars. For those of you who ride bicycles, please don’t forget that a bicycle is a type of vehicle, and thus always be careful to give pedestrians the right of way when you cycle!