Top Traditional Japanese Arts & Crafts
Depending on the history, customs and practices, there will be various important festivals, arts and other features owned by every society. In Japan, we can see so many such customs, festivals, crafts and arts. Among the most famous are bonsai, origami, ikebana etc.
Bonsai is the art of growing plants and trees in small pots in its miniature form. Trees and plants could be grown in a prettier fashion using this art. It is time consuming and needs a lot of patience and experience to grow up a single bonsai. “Bon” is a type of pot used for growing plants and “sai” means planting. Any long lasting plant or perennial tree can be converted into its miniature form using this technique. This is getting popular all over the world. It is amazing to see big peepal and other wild trees and flowering plants in small pots. Flowering plants in its bonsai form are beautiful with lots of flowers in every small branch tips of it. Keeping big trees in a small pot inside our home or garden provides an attractive look to our interiors and relaxation to our mind. The name on every bonsai depends upon the type of pots used and the kind of plant inside it. Bonsai reached Japan from China and they developed new variations here. Omiya Bonsai Village is one of the super branded bonsai makers of Japan which is situated in Saitama Prefecture.
2. Shôdo – Japanese Calligraphy
Even though calligraphy is a form of art popular in many nations, in Japan many people give importance to their unique calligraphy art. Known in Japanese as shôdo, or the way of writing, it is also inherited from China. After reaching Japan, calligraphers developed unique ideas to write their letters beautifully. It is a main hobby of many Japanese citizens. Children learn calligraphy in their elementary schools. We can see special calligraphy sets sold at shops which contain many items. The process of traditional calligraphy starts from making your own black ink by rubbing a black block known as sumi. These blocks are rubbed on small rocks called suzuri to make fine powder that is mixed in water to produce ink. Eventhough ink bottles are available now, calligraphers prefer using ink produced from this block. Special papers, brushes (fuudo), paper weight (bunchin) etc. are all part of the calligraphy set. The traditional paper used in calligraphy is Japanese washi paper. There are various styles for writing a single kanji characters. Kaisho, gyosho, and sosho are the various styles used in calligraphy.
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The story of Sadako and her one thousand paper cranes is well known all over the world. Hearing the word origami, this story came in to the mind of every common person. Origami is the art of making various shapes by folding papers. Almost all Japanese persons are interested in origami art and they are proud of learning new shapes produced from these papers. It makes use of small square shaped papers. Only folding is used while making various shapes out of paper. The use of glue or other objects is discouraged most times. Special papers for origami are available in most stationary stores. There are books available to learn and practice origami. From simple to complex shapes including various animals, flowers, instruments etc. many thins could be made out of these paper folding technique. It is interesting and helps in brain development for children. Kirigami is a version of origami in which paper cutting is also used for making perfect shapes.
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Ikebana is the traditional Japanese flower arrangement. It is entirely different from the western style of flower arrangement. Mostly, Japanese flowers, leaves and stems are used in Ikebana. This flower arrangement is also known as kadou. Other than combining a lot of flowers in the arrangement, ikebana depends upon the interest of the artist and based on some special rules. Combining all parts of a plant in the arrangement, ikebana is considered as an art that connects humanity and nature. This art illustrates the love of Japanese society to nature. The pot in which arranging is done also is very important. Based upon the rules, ikebana artists arrange stems, flowers and leaves in the pot. Depending upon the shape of the containers and the way of arranging, there are various names given for each type of ikebana. We could see ikebana kept in temples, shrines, graveyards etc. People used to keep ikebana in their home and offices also. There are schools in every city for teaching this traditional flower arrangement technique.
All these four arts of Japan are known worldwide and considered as the unique art forms originating in Japan. Shaped by 14,000 years of history and culture, there are so many other arts and crafts owned by this nation, see which one you think is the most fascinating.