Beauty and techniques of handicraft inherited in Kanazawa -2-

 

– An interview with Mr. Tomoyuki Yamamoto, The director of Kanazawa Nakamura Memorial Museum –

In Kanazawa, a variety of traditional handicrafts still remain and are rooted in everyday life, helping to boost the cultural and artistic level of the city. We will explore the beauty and roots of the handicrafts that have been passed down in this city.

 


The crafts found in different parts of Japan are deeply connected to the daimyos who ruled the land during the Edo period. It is therefore not possible to learn about Kanazawa’s crafts without mentioning them in relation to the Maeda family/lords of the Kaga clan. The successive lords enjoyed taking part in Japanesetea ceremonies, and this is a factor in the development of craft activities in this place.

On this occasion, we interviewed Mr. Tomoyuki Yamamoto, Director of Kanazawa Nakamura Memorial Museum, known as the “museum of tea ceremony utensils and crafts.”

 

― In areas of Japan where the tea ceremony is flourishing, arts and crafts are also popular, but why is this?

Director Yamamoto: Tea ceremony utensils, such as tea bowls and pots, are made using different craft techniques, including pottery, metalwork, lacquer, wood and bamboo, dyeing fabrics, etc.

For the Maeda family, Sen no Rikyu, who is referred to as the “tea saint,” coached both the first lord, Toshiie, and the second lord, Toshinaga. From that point successive lords also interacted with renowned tea experts. These tea experts created a variety of utensils based on their sense of beauty, which had a strong influence on those engaged in craftwork production in Kanazawa.

Such utensils are used in the special space of a tea ceremony, as opposed to crafts, which are meant to be used in our everyday life, such as to “eat, drink, love, or wear.” The creator’s sense of beauty and the techniques used to embody this provide added value as a characteristic not seen in mass-produced items.

 

―What do you consider to be the charm of the tea ceremony?

―Director Yamamoto: Prior to the appearance of Sen no Rikyu, tea ceremonies were held as social occasions at which the upper classes would compete with each other over the luxury of their tea ceremony utensils. In the Azuchi-Momoyama period (16th century), Sen no Rikyu established the simple “wabi-cha” style, which went on to become the basis of the current tea ceremony. It is said that the spirituality of the Japanese, who find beauty in simple or incomplete things, is condensed in the teaceremony.

In fact, the matcha drunk at tea ceremonies is also appealing in terms of its medicinal effects. English tea, Chinese tea, and Japanese tea in generalhave their substances extracted; in the case of matcha, however, powdered tea leaves are dissolved in hot water to be consumed. This means that you ingest all of the nutrients contained in the tea leaves, such as catechins and vitamins. It is thereforea good idea to casually take part in a teaceremonyto benefit your health.

 

― How do you appreciate tea ceremony utensils?

―Director Yamamoto:  I am frequently asked that question while working at the museum, along with “Which is the most expensive item?” However, would an expensive item be something good?

For example, when you choose clothes in a shop, you may not necessarily like the expensive items. Even if they’re expensive, things that don’t suit you are not good for you.

We should apply the same type of judgment when viewing artworks at a museum. What you like or are interested in is the best for you,so take a moment to consider why you like it. Each piece has captions accompanying it to help you with this, with the information provided including the title, the year it was created, the techniques used, its historicalbackground, and any points to be noted.

 

― What do you recommend doing to try and use crafts?

―Director Yamamoto: We serve tea at a tearoom in our museum. You can use your hands and put a bowl to your lips to feel its shape that has been designed to allow you to experience the delicious taste of matcha. As well as our museum, there are many other facilities in Kanazawa City where you can enjoy hands-on experience ofhandicrafts and craft techniques; they are definitely worth a visit. New thingsflock to Tokyo and old culture is accumulated in Kyoto. In Kanazawa, new things are created on topof the old culture. I am confident that the city is worth a visit for tourists.

Some people will want to buy handicrafts, as well as wishing to see how they work out. If you obtain an item of your choice, you use it carefully in your everyday life, which I believe is the most ideal and original way of interacting with handicrafts. Some people think they are way too good to use and simply cherish them without putting them to use. But please leave the preservation work to museums and use them in your everyday life.Using things that are filled with the creator’s or your sense of beauty willenhanceyour life, sharpen your senses, and lead to a prosperous life.

 


 

Tomoyuki Yamamoto

Director of Kanazawa Nakamura Memorial Museum. Born in Kanazawa City in 1965. After graduating from the Faculty of Letters, Chuo University, began working in the Culture Section, Cityof Kanazawa in 1990. Following long-term training at the Tokyo National Museum and National Museum of Modern Art, Kyoto,began serving as a curator for Izumi Kyoka Memorial Museum in 1999. Has served in the current position since 2016.

 

 

Kanazawa Nakamura Memorial Museum

  • Open: 9:30 am to 5 pm (Visitors must enter by 4:30 pm)
  • Closed: Exhibit changes from Dec. 29 to Jan. 3
  • Admission fee: 300 yen
  • Address: 3-2-29 Honda-machi
  • Contact: Tel. 076-221-0751
  • WEB: http://www.kanazawa-museum.jp/nakamura/english/

Beauty and techniques of handicraft inherited in Kanazawa -1-

– the “Saikusho” that produced samurai furnishings –

In Kanazawa, a variety of traditional handicrafts still remain and are rooted in everyday life, helping to boost the cultural and artistic level of the city. We will explore the beauty and roots of the handicrafts that have been passed down in this city.

 


Kanazawa’s roots as a city of traditional handicrafts date back to the Edo period (1603–1868), a time when the samurai reigned.

 

During the Edo period, the Maeda family, who were daimyo (feudal lords), ruled over the Kaga clan with Kanazawa as its capital city. From the time of the first lord, Toshiie, successive lords of the Maeda family maintained a deep interest in cultural projects through tea ceremonies. In particular, the third lord, Toshitsune, was an outstanding cultural lord.

At that time, the extent of the land owned by a clan throughout the country was indicated by the “Kokudaka.” This was a measure of the productivity of the land as expressed by its rice yield. The Kaga clan had a kokudaka of one million, which was the highest in Japan.

The great Kaga clan posed a threat to the Edo shogunate. In order to demonstrate his obedience to the government, as well as to show his family status as Japan’s top daimyo, Toshitsune spent his financial wealth, worth a kokudaka of one million, on arts and crafts, including martial arts.

*Maeda Toshitsune/ quote a photo from wikipedia

 


In Kanazawa Castle, there was a workshop called “Saikusho” as a symbol of the Kaga clan’s cultural incentive measures.

It was originally a place for repairing tools and weapons, but Toshitsune gradually transformed it into a craft studio for creating luxurious daimyo-style furnishings for the Maeda family. Along with this, many skilled craftsmen were invited from different places, such as Kyoto and Edo (Tokyo), as instructors of the Saikusho. This led to the foundation of Kanazawa’s arts and crafts techniques, which have been passed down to the present, including “Kaga Maki-e” and “Kaga Zogan, inlay.”

 

The techniques held by the Saikusho within the castle eventually spread to the studios that were run by the townspeople living in the castle town. This led to the formation of an unprecedented rich bank of craftsmen in Kanazawa. Indeed, the dyed kimono that served as the origin of today’s “Kaga Yuzen” was not created at the Saikusho, but rather by a dyer in the castle town who was patronized by the Kaga clan.

“Kaga Maki-e”

 

The Saikusho was further enhanced and developed by the fifth lord, Tsunanori, in terms of both its organization and roles. It remained as a clan-owned arts and crafts studio right up to the end of the Edo period, which was a rare thing across the whole country.

 


 

If you wish to see the great skills and aesthetics of the artisans from that time, visit the “Seisonkaku” history museum adjacent to Kenrokuen Garden. Nariyasu, the 13th lord of the Kaga clan, built it as his mother’s retirement home, with the craftsmanship of the Kaga clan featuring in both the works inside the building and in the collections on display.

 


 

Seisonkaku Villa

  • Open: 9 am to 5 pm (Visitors must enter by 4:30pm)
  • Closed: Wednesdays (Next day if Wednesday falls on a holiday) and Dec. 29 to Jan. 2
  • Admission fee: 700 yen
  • Address: 1-2 Kenroku-machi
  • Contact: Tel. 076-221-0580
  • WEB: http://www.seisonkaku.com/english

 

Takenoko, un sabor de la primavera

La primavera es la temporada de cosecha del retoño del bambú, takenoko. El bambú, originalmente, era la planta que no podía faltar en la vida del japonés, utilizado como material de construcción y de utensilios de cocina como palillos, contenedores y coladores. Aunque en la actualidad estos han sido reemplazados por productos de plástico, el takenoko es ampliamente consumido hasta estos días, es amada su textura crujiente y su sabor ligeramente amargo.

Aquí en Kanazawa es cultivado por primera vez en 1766 el bambú Moso, e introducido a sus suburbios posteriormente. En el Kanazawa actual se tienen certificados 15 tipos de vegetales endémicos, y el takenoko es uno de ellos.
Se cosechan solamente los retoños jóvenes del takenoko, que parecen colmillos recién salidos (de ahí su nombre, “hijo del bambú”).

Aunque hay varias formas de prepararlo, son tradicionales con arroz, hervidos y en tempura. Los frescos recién cosechados pueden ser rebanados y comidos crudos.

A pesar de ser una sociedad que cultiva bastantes vegetales en invernaderos durante todo el año, el takenoko natural solo se cosecha una vez al año. Se dice que el takenoko muestra su rostro 7 a 10 días después del florecimiento del cerezo, y para los japoneses ambos eventos representan la añorada entrada de la primavera.

Sake de Kanazawa: elaborado en el corazón del invierno usando una combinación de agua pura y arroz de primera calidad

La época más fría del invierno en la que nieva es la época del año con más trabajo en las destilerías de sake en Kanazawa. Durante esta época, cada sakagura (destilería de sake) en Kanazawa entra en la temporada alta de su producción de sake. La Prefectura de Ishikawa, con sus fríos inviernos y sus abundantes nevadas, es un lugar ideal para la elaboración de sake, y se le conoce como la región líder de todo Japón. Hay muchas sakagura establecidas en Kanazawa, orgullosas en su tradición mientras buscan nuevos e innovadores sabores.

El agua y el arroz para sake son los ingredientes principales del sake, y son primordiales para determinar su calidad. La cordillera de la montaña Hakusan proporciona a Kanazawa con abundante cantidad de agua fresca y pura, alta en minerales y baja en hierro, haciéndola ideal para el cultivo. Las destilerías locales de sake llevan usando desde hace mucho tiempo un arroz para sake llamado Yamada Nishiki, un arroz local de alta calidad conocido como Gohyakumangoku.
Tradicionalmente, las destilerías de sake son supervisadas por un destilador jefe llamado toji. Las destilerías en Kanazawa contratan su toji de la península de Noto pero también de otras partes del país, y así pueden competir y aprender entre ellos. Además, las ricas tradiciones culinarias en Kanazawa llevan mucho tiempo respaldado la industria del sake.
El sake es considerado una bebida sagrada y se creé que puede liberarse de los espíritus malignos. Es por eso que podrás ver enormes toneles de sake en santuarios sintoístas.

[Destilerías de sake en Kanazawa]

 

・Fukumitsuya http://www.fukumitsuya.co.jp/english (English)

・Yachiya http://www.yachiya-sake.co.jp (Japanese)

・Nakamura shuzo http://www.nakamura-shuzou.co.jp (Japanese)

Es temporada de cangrejo de nieve!

Para los japoneses, el invierno es la temporada de fiestas de cangrejo. Hay una variedad de cangrejos que se disfrutan, pero nadie niega que el zuwai-gani (cangrejo de nieve) atrapado en el Mar de Japón es uno de los reyes de manjares de invierno. La carne del zuwai-gani tiene un toque de dulzura y el cangrejo a la mantequilla también es rico en sabor.

Situado al lado del Mar de Japón, la Prefectura de Ishikawa tiene la bendición de tener zuwai-gani como uno de sus platos de especialidad. Cuando la temporada de pesca comienza en noviembre, muchos visitantes vienen a Kanazawa para degustar zuwai-gani y el mercado de Omicho se llena de clientes.

 

La forma más común de disfrutar zuwai-gani entre los japoneses es muy simple: hervir o asar a la parrilla los cangrejos frescos y sumergirlos en salsa de sanbaizu (salsa de soja mezclada con vinagre y azúcar). También es delicioso como tempura, sashimi, sushi, en sopa de olla y en muchos otros estilos de cocina. Usted encontrará restaurantes alrededor de mercado Omicho que sirven estas delicias de invierno.

“Dojo no Kabayaki”

Especialidades “Negras” en verano – Platos tradicionales locales de Kanazawa

Uno puede encontrar dos platos tradicionales de color negro en el Mercado Omicho durante el verano. El mercado de Omicho es también conocido como la cocina de Kanazawa.

“Dojo no Kabayaki” es un plato tradicional de Kanazawa, conocido por su sabor y sus propiedades para mejorar el vigor y la fortaleza física.

 

El dojo, literalmente significa “pez del tiempo” o Weather Loach en inglés, es un pequeño pez de agua dulce que se parece mucho a una anguila. Este plato se prepara primero asando el pescado sobre el carbón caliente, antes de sumergirlo en una salsa de soja dulce. Después de que el pescado se ha sumergido en la salsa se vuelve a asar al carbón por segunda vez. La salsa es lo que hace que el sabor del pescado sea especial, que por supuesto varía de restaurante a restaurante.

“Iro Zuke” literalmente significa colorear. Iro Zuke es plato de marisco a la parrilla cubierto con salsa de soja picante. Para este plato simple y clásico se utilizan generalmente pescado blanco, vieiras (almejas) y calamares. El plato es conocido por su glaseado espeso y la fragancia del asado que enmascara los olores fuertes de los pescados, aumentando así el apetito en los días calientes de verano.

Uno puede encontrar fácilmente “Dojo no Kabayaki” e Iro Zuke en forma de brochetas en el mercado Omicho, las que son propicias para comer en el camino.