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Quick guide on how to bring a piece of Japan to Ukraine
Japan is not only cherry blossoms, Mount Fuji and people wearing kimono. Everyone who has been to this country must have heard about unparalleled local fairs where every second piece is one-of-a-kind!
One of my favorite things to do when I come to Japan is to explore new shops and flea markets hidden in tangled streets. You can find so many amazing things from this embarrassment of riches! You look at the beauty, touch the beauty, inhale the beauty but it is never enough.
Like many other tourists, I come back to Ukraine with a fat suitcase full of plates, cups, vases, and figurines bought for myself and for my family. Today, I want to tell you about 5 things, because of which my suitcase refused to close.
Netsuke is not just a bricolage made of wood or ivory; every single item is an object of art in a traditional time-honored technique. It captivates you by its beauty and elegance when you hold it in the palm of your hand.
Baby-netsuke was brought into being for practical purposes. People used them as keychains or fastened them to clothing together with other belongings using a lace. Traditional kimono had no pockets; and nobody likes to lose keys.
The two Japanese characters "ne" and "tsuke" mean "root" and "to attach"
Fingers of one hand are definitely not enough to count all types of netsuke. The Japanese gave them so many names, which do not run off Ukrainian people tongues. The most famous netsuke is "katabori"; it imitates people and animals. There are also “manju”, which borrowed the name from a round rice cakes mochi.
Where Japan is, there are engravings. It is a unique feature of the traditional Japanese art. Graceful and delicate.
Japanese engravings belong to xylography, the art of engraving on wood. Artisans prefer to work with pear or cherry wood – soft and workable materials.
Ukiyo-e is the most common type of Japanese woodblock prints. "Pictures of the floating world", sounds the translation of the word. It became usual in Edo urban culture in the second half of the XVII century. The earliest Ukiyo-e were black and white. Color in prints came much later.
The Japanese are demanding to composition, but they do not limit themselves to subject. Some prints nearly smell like sakura blossom, while others feature dry lotus seed capsules or bare trees dusted with snow. Everyone can find an engraving in line with his inner world.
For the Europeans chopsticks might be just "utensils to eat sushi", but for Eastern people they are a sort of sacrament and an integral part of social heritage.
Every Japanese has his own chopsticks. They never borrow them to anyone else as they find them to be very personal thing. Same as a toothbrush for us.
So, let’s get back to souvenirs... an hour spent in the Japanese stores, – and your suitcase is full of chopsticks made of wood, metal, clay, and even stone (for the lovers of extraordinary). I have enlarged my collection with a pair of persimmon tree chopsticks.
AN OLD KNIFE
Collecting unusual rare things is my weakness – I can’t help it and, to be honest, don’t want to.
There was no knife for sharpening pencils in my wish list. I stumbled across it and instantly realized – it’s "mine". I recommend designers and architects to chalk it up. It’s very useful, even indispensable thing in our profession, I would say.
It seems to me that I am a “Japanese soul”. I’m as passionate about ceramics as the people of the Land of the Rising Sun. Among my recent purchases, I have a bowl and few teacups.
The Japanese strive to accentuate individuality even when it comes to tableware making. Two identic pieces of dishware on a table will be considered bad style.
Modern Japan safeguards traditional production practices and is not ready for mass-produced ceramics. Hand-made items bear the impress of history and convey warmth and emotions of their creator.