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, à l’aube du printemps

Le printemps est la saison des récoltes des pousses de bambou “takenoko“.

La plante de bambou était indispensable dans la vie quotidienne japonaise, utilisée comme matériau de construction ou comme ustensiles de cuisine sous la forme de baguettes, de bols, d’assiettes ou encore comme passoires.
Aujourd’hui, beaucoup de ces objets ont été remplacés par des outils en plastique, mais le “takenoko“ reste un aliment très populaire, apprécié pour sa texture croquante et son goût légèrement amer.

Ici à Kanazawa, les premières «moso» (pousse de bambous) ont été cultivées en 1766, à l’époque plantées en banlieue. De nos jours, la ville certifie 15 catégories de ce légume et l’une d’entre elle est représentée par la marque Kaga Yasai.

Le takenoko n’est récolté que lorsque les pousses sont très jeunes, juste après que les pointes vertes sortent du le sol. C’est pourquoi on les appelle takenoko (signifie littéralement ‘le petit bambou’). Les takenoko sont utilisés dans une grande variété de plats, avec du riz, mijoté ou en tempura sont des recettes traditionnelles. Lorsqu’ils viennent d’être ramassés, ils peuvent être simplement tranchés et consommés crus.

Pour répondre à la demande tout au long de l’année et malgré le fait qu’ils soient aujourd’hui principalement cultivés dans des serres, les takenoko ne sont récoltés qu’une fois par an. On dit que les takenoko sortiront du sol entre 7 et 10 jours après que les cerisiers commencent à fleurir. Les deux sont donc attendus avec impatience par les Japonais comme signes de l’arrivé du printemps.

Le Saké Kanazawa : brassé au cœur de l’hiver, c’est le mélange d’une eau pure et d’alcool de riz de la plus haute qualité.

Les tempêtes de neige au milieu de l’hiver représentent la saison la plus intense de l’année pour les distilleries de Kanazawa. Cette saison, est la période de pointe pour le brassage du saké pour toutes les distilleries de Kanazawa. La préfecture d’Ishikawa, avec ses hivers rigoureux et ses importantes tempêtes de neige est parfaitement adaptée au brassage du saké et est considérée comme l’une des principales régions de saké au Japon. On trouve d’ailleurs de nombreuses distilleries de saké dans toute la région de Kanazawa, qui porte fièrement le flambeau leur tradition séculaire tout en étant à la recherche constante de goûts nouveaux et innovants.

La qualité de l’eau et de l’alcool de riz, les ingrédients principaux du saké, sont déterminants pour sa qualité. A proximité, la chaîne de montagnes Hakusan assure à Kanazawa un approvisionnement abondant en eau fraîche et pure, riche en minéraux et pauvre en fer, ce qui la rend idéale pour la culture de la levure. Les brasseries locales de saké utilisent depuis longtemps un alcool de riz premium appelé Yamada Nishiki, ainsi que celui nommé Gohyakumangoku ; ce dernier est produit localement.

Traditionnellement, le brassage du saké est supervisé par un chef brasseur appelé « toji ». Les brasseries de Kanazawa recrutent des « toji » originaires de la péninsule de Noto, mais aussi de tout le pays, afin qu’ils puissent à la fois rivaliser et apprendre les uns des autres. En outre, riche d’une grande tradition culinaire, l’ensemble de la région de Kanazawa soutient depuis longtemps l’industrie du saké.

Le saké a été considéré comme une boisson divine et on croyait qu’il exorcisait les mauvais esprits. C’est pourquoi vous voyez souvent de gros tonneaux de saké à l’entrée des temples shintoïstes.

[Les brasseries de saké à 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)

La saison du crabe des neiges est arrivée !

L’hiver est la saison du crabe au Japon. Il y a énormément d’espèces de crabe au Japon, mais on peut dire que le zuwai-gani, ou crabe des neiges, pêché dans la Mer du Japon est le roi de la gastronomie d’hiver. La chair blanche du crabe est légèrement sucrée, et la chair brune a beaucoup de saveur.

Bordé par la Mer du Japon, le département d’Ishikawa est renommé pour ses crabes des neiges. Au mois de novembre lorsque la pêche commence, le marché d’Omi-cho à Kanazawa abonde de touristes à la recherche du goût raffiné du crabe des neiges.

 

La façon la plus répandue de savourer le zuwai-gani est simple et délicieuse : des crabes frais sont bouillis ou grillés puis dégustés tels quels avec une sauce nommée sanbaizu, un mélange de vinaigre, de sauce soja et de sucre. Cette sauce est également appréciée avec d’autres plats d’hiver comme les tempuras, les sashimis, les sushis et les marmites. Vous trouverez ces spécialités dans les restaurants du marché Omi-cho.

« Dojo no Kabayaki »

Les spécialités “noires de l’été – Des plats typiques et traditionnels de Kanazawa

En été, on peut trouver très facilement au marché d’Omicho, souvent appelé « la cuisine de Kanazawa » deux plats traditionnels de couleur noire. Le « Dojo no Kabayaki » est un plat typique réputé pour sa saveur et ses propriétés d’amélioration de la résistance physique.

Le “Dojo”, appelé en français « loche baromêtre » est un petit poisson d’eau ressemblant à l’anguille. Le poisson est grillé au charbon de bois puis plongé dans une sauce soja lègerement sucrée avant d’être grillé à nouveau. Bien que sa recette varie en fonction des restaurants, la sauce est l’élément qui donne au « Dojo no Kabayaki » sa saveur particulière.

 

Le mot japonais “Iro Zuke” signifie littéralement “coloration”. C’ est un plat de fruits de mer grillés avec une sauce soja douce et épicée. Poissons d’eaux profondes, noix de pétoncle et calamars sont souvent utilisés pour la préparation de cette recette simple et classique. Ce plat est connu pour son glaçage épais et son odeur de grillé qui masque l’odeur forte du poisson et ouvre l’appétit les jours d’été.

Au marché d’Omicho, on peut trouver facilement des brochettes de “Dojo no Kabayaki” et d’ “Iro Zuke” que l’on peut grignoter chemin-faisant.