Story

  • SHIGARAKI TANUKI

    Have you ever seen a creature standing at the entrance of Japanese shops? It is a fortune TANUKI called “Shigaraki Tanuki”. Shigaraki area in Shiga prefecture is one of the six old kilns in Japan and produces fine stoneware pottery. It is said that the first “Shigaraki Tanuki” was made in the late 19th century by a famous pottery Fujiwara Tetsuzo who saw(!) a raccoon enjoying playing music by making a sound by drumming his belly on a full moon night. Tanuki means a raccoon in English and also implies “TA = others” “NUKI = surpass”. Therefore, people who run a business are willing to place this imaginary animal at the entrance to get lucky.Japan six ancient kilns (Nihon RokuKo Yo named by Koyama Fujio in 1948) are defined as a category developed from the 12th century till now and added a Japan Heritage list in 2017.1) Seto Yaki: Seto in Aichi prefecture 2) Tokoname Yaki: Tokoname in Aichi prefecture 3) Echizen Yaki: Echizen in Fukui prefecture 4) Tamba Tachikui Yaki: Tachikui and Sasayama in Hyogo prefecture 5) Bizen Yaki: Ibe in Okayama prefecture 6) Shigaraki Yaki: Shigaraki in Shiga prefecture Yaki = ware  Interestingly, both Mino Yaki with the lion’s share in this market and popular Iga Yaki are not included.Back to the story of Shigaraki Tanuki, after the famous pottery Fujiwara Tetsuzo finished the training, he moved to Shigaraki area and started to produce a life-size Tanuki figurine. Its good quality clay containing feldspar of Shigaraki area is the only suitable for producing large works such as jars, flower vases, deep dishes, bottles, figurines, etc.In 1951 the Emperor Showa went to Shigaraki, many Tanukis holding Japanese flags were placed on the street to welcome his visit. The Emperor impressed and read Tanka, a Japanese poem, about his visit and the Tanuki. Since then, Shigaraki Tanuki grab people’s attention and spread as a fortune item in the nation. The adorable outlook is also loved and it ended the current style with eight fortunes. Except for Tanuki at the entrance of shops, the Black Sun of the Tower of the Sun by Okamoto Taro and the roof of the National Diet Building are also made of Shigaraki ware. You will see Tanuki welcoming your visit when you enter stores in Japan and they will guarantee your stay with full of fortunes.Please contact us when you have any questions about Japan or things of Japan, Japantotheowrld.com will help your Japan stay perfect.

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  • MANEKI NEKO - Happy Cats -

    As you can see on the internet, it is a global fact that cats are beloved icons all over the world without any exception. People just love cats, no matter what, cats are one of the most adorable creatures in this world. Hope you all agree with it.Since ancient times, cats are preferable animals as they get rid of mice. Here in Japan, there is a special cat called “MANEKI NEKO” in a waving pose. This special cat is called Happy Cats, Good Luck Cats, or Beckoning Cats. It is believed that MANEKI NEKO raising the right paw brings money and the left paw people (customers). Some say both paws raising brings both money and people, but some say it is too greedy. These cats are widely known as a lucky charm in Japan.Many old legends in Japan came from other countries such as China, India, but MANEKI NEKO is said the story was originally from Japan, especially from the place use to be called EDO (the place currently called Tokyo), though some insist it was from Kyoto.There are many myths on MANEKI NEKO. The most popular is the story of GOTOKU temple. In the Edo period around the 17th century, a poor monk lived in a temple with a cat. He took great care of the cat and shared his meals with the cat. One day Lord II NAOTAKA took shelter from rain under a big tree near the temple. The cat of the temple suddenly beckoned to him with its paw. Right after he came close to the cat, a lightning struck the tree and he was saved his life by the cat. He was so delightful, made a great donation for the temple. After that, the temple became prospered. When the cat was dead, a statue of MANEKI NEKO was made to commemorate this miracle lucky cat. GOUTOKU temple is also called Lucky Cat temple. It is located at GOTOKUJI station in Setagaya, Tokyo.Another popular story is origin from ASAKUSA shrine. Again, in the Edo period, an old lady had to let go of her loved cat. One day the cat appeared in her dream and said if you made a figurine of her car, fortune would come. The lady made a ceramic cat figurine and sold at ASAKUSA shrine in Tokyo. The cat figurine became popular, sold very well, and brought her fortune. ASAKUSA shrine is also known as SANJASAMA among the local people and the festival (SANJA festival) is one of the three major Tokyo festivals. ASAKUSA shrine is located just next to SENSOU temple, one of the most famous temples in Tokyo, and both are located at ASAKUSA, an undoubtedly well-known sightseeing spot in Tokyo.Back to the Edo period in the 17th century, people used cats drawn on paper as a lucky charm and put it at the entrance of their stores wishing more customers come and praying for good business.The style of MANEKI NEKO has changed with the time. They usually stand on their two hind feet, raise their forefoot or forefeet, and feature a collar with a bell sometimes written FUKU (Fortune). You might see some holding a KOBAN (Japanese old coin) in their paws. The coin is written a unit of Japanese old money used in the Edo period such as 1,000 RYO, 10,000 RYO, etc. RYO is considered as a quite fortune. Traditionally the colors used for MANEKI NEKO are white, black, and red. Nowadays, there are more color variations based on your wish.The 29th of September is Lucky Cat Day established in 1995 by Association for MANEKINEKO Japan. It is a day to be thankful to MANEKI NEKO. It is also called KURU FUKU NO HI in Japanese, means “Fortune Coming Day”.In September, there are some festivals related MANEKI NEKO at AICHI and MIE prefectures where are famous for its production.MANEKI NEKO is one the popular icons representing traditional Japan. It is interesting to visit those MANEKI NEKO related sites when you come to Japan.Japantotheworld.com is ready to introduce more Japan oriented stories, please inform us if you have any specific themes you would like to know.

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  • WAGARA - Japanese pattern -

    Wagara (Japanese Patterns) is the pattern used for the Japanese traditional crafts, Japanese papers, Japanese traditional clothes (Kimono and Yukata). They are placed orderly in the geometric patterns abstractly representing natural phenomenon or the patterns of a motif of animals and plants.< Hemp Leaf (Asanoha) >A hexagon-based geometric design, which is commonly used in the patterns for swaddling cloth because of the characters of strong and growing fast.< Arrow Fletching (Yagasuri) >The pattern of arrow feathers represents released arrows that never come back. Therefore, in the Edo period the pattern became popular among girls to wear when they get married.< Japanese Check (Ichimatsu) >It was originally called “paving stones” and changed to “Ichimatsu” afterward. The name of Ichimatsu came from a famous Kabuki actor Sanogawa Ichimatsu as he liked to use the pattern on his clothes at the Edo dynasty.< Seven Treasures (Shippou/Shippo) >The pattern of Shippou (Shippo) consists of many intersecting and everlasting circles. It shows seven treasures such as gold, silver, lapis lazuli, giant clams, coral and agate, which represents peace, harmony and luck.< Blue Ocean / Blue Wave (Seigaiha) > The wave pattern represents everlasting happiness and a peaceful life.< Woven Bamboo Basket (Kagome) >A motif of a woven bamboo basket is used as a charm because of the shape of hexagram and actual woven baskets were used to be placed as a charm at the entrance of houses.< Sankuzushi >The pattern comes from the shape of a counting rod which was used for mathematics in old China and Japan. After that, the pattern changed to three lines, four lines or five lines and they are called “Sankuzushi”, “Yonkuzushi” and “Gokuzushi” respectively.< Tortoiseshell (Kikkou/Kikko) >The pattern comes from the shape of turtleback. Turtles represent long-life and fortune in Japan. The equilateral hexagon is popularly used for Japanese family emblems.< Seed Stitch (Kanoko) >It comes from the pattern of the back of fawns. The Kimono of Kanoko pattern is expensive as it requires lot of trouble to dye the fabric of this pattern. Kanoko also represents descendant prosperities.Japan to the world.com produces various items using Japanese patterns. Please contact us if you have any questions and request.

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  • UKIYOE -Japanese Art-

    One of the genres of painting that began around 1550 in the Edo period in Japan. It appeared as a picture depicting Ukiyo, that is, a genre painting.In short, it describes;・The tough and fragile life of common people・This worldIt features bold composition, strong lines and shadow-less expression, etc. The Ukiyo-e shows us the everyday life and the culture of commoners of the Edo period.Ukiyo-e in the early stages was mainly original drawings and single-color woodblock prints. In the middle stages (around 1765-1806) multicolor woodblock prints were developed. At the same time the work divided into groups of Shitaeshi (Ukiyo-e painters), Horishi (carvers) and Surishi (printers). This division of labor established the mass prodcution system and brought its golden age. Furthermore, the portraits of beautiful women, Kabuki actors and famous scenerise were also released and Ukiyo-e became a great popular culture in Japan.At the late stages (around 1807-1858) world famose Katsushika Hokusai, Utagawa Hiroshige, and Utagawa Kuniyoshi appeared and created the big trend of Ukiyo-e.After the rapid social changes called Civilization and Enlightenment of Japan and The Meiji Restoration happened in Japan, Ukiyo-e played an important role of a medium with a very broad appeal to the masses.The new art movement called "Japonisme" flourished in Europe mainly in France in the 19th Century. The movement affected several different fields of arts witch especially had a great influence on Impression for such as Vincent van Gogh and Claude Monet. It is widely known that "La Mer" composed by Claude Debussy and "Big Wave" sculptured by Camille Claudel were inspired by Hokusai's famose paint called "Kanagawa Oki". OEM products also available. Please feel free to contact us if you have any requests or questions on the products.< Hard cover for iPhone>

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