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Tatami

Do you know a tatami mat?
It’s a rush mat used as a flooring material in traditional Japanese-style rooms.


Originally, a tatami mat was a symbol of power and prestige, but it gradually became part of people's daily lives.
Now, most of Japanese houses have tatami rooms.
畳の写真 
                                                                                                              ©Takata Orimono

To learn more about tatami, we visited a tatami-beri (the border) maker Takata Orimono in Kojima, Kurashiki City.
It takes an hour and a half by car from Okayama station
If you go there by train, get off at JR Kojima station and take a taxi.
A 15 munite-drive will take you there.

Takata Orimono offers a factory tour and mini tatami making class (a booking needed).
So we booked both of them



A tatami is made up of three components: the surface material, known as the tatami-omote; the inner core, tatami-doko; and the border material, tatami-beri.

As for Tatami-beri (the border), it’s a sort of fabric which is about 8cm wide.
It makes a tatami mat durable, and it also serve as a visual accent when the tatami are laid out on the floor.
Apparently, tatami-beri made in Kojima region captures 80 percent of the market


Apart from that, this company produces more than 1000 types of tatami-beri

For instance...
These are traditional designs.
伝統柄 
                                                                                                                                                                     ©Takata Orimono


And, here you can see modern designs.   They are so cute
新柄 
                                                                                                                                                                      ©Takata Orimono
It's even possible to order your original design.


Ok, it’s time to start the factory tour
Here’s a room where tatami-beri are woven.
工場内部 
                                                                                                                                          ©Takata Orimono  
                                                                           You are not supposed to take photos in the factory.
Most of the manufacturing processes are automated.
Each machine can produce 15-30m of tatami-beri per hour.


Originally, tatami-beri was made of cotton, however, it turned into synthetics these days. This factory is producing both of them though.


After we looked around the factory, we moved to a room for a tatami making class.

There are a lot of items which were made from tatami-borders.
In that room, I saw many stuff I didn’t imagine


Coin cases, card holders and belts
IMG_2472resize.jpg  ベルト
I can’t believe all that  are made of tatami-beri


I also came across tatami which has unusual shapes
IMG_2372resize.jpg IMG_2376resize.jpg
I’ve never seen tatami like those before.

 
I especially like a wine bag and Hina dolls wearing tatami-beri !
IMG_2465resize.jpg IMG_2371補正


Oh, Momotaro is happy to find a coin case with his face
児島 472 


After that, we tried making mini tatami mat
IMG_2379resize.jpg 
These are tools you need.


First, choose your favorite tatabi-beri.
You have a lot of choice
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I selected one with cat pattern.


So, let’s start
Ms Takata showed us the ropes at first.
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Attach the tatami-omote (the surface) on the board.
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Put tatami-beri and herigami (a paper) on the board.
Then hammer nails into the board and fix them.
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Like this.


Fold herigami (a paper) and tatami-beri.
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IMG_2426resize.jpg 


Turn over it.
IMG_2438resize.jpg 


Fold the edge of tatami-beri then fix it to the board with nails.
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Done

 

 

This is my original tatami mat
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Even though it’s small, it’s made using same materials as a regular size tatami.

It’ll come in useful when I display something like dolls or potteries on it

 

Thanks for your help, Ms Takata
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You’ll find more about tatami if you join the factory tour.

Why don’t you try it



Takata Orimono

Address : 2-2-53 Karakoto, Kojima, Kurashiki City

Tel : 086-477-7162

Factory tour schedule: ask staff when you book the tour 
                                      (generally it starts at 10:30  or  13:00)

Close : weekends and holidays

Price : (factory tour) free of charge

           (Tatami mat making) 525yen / person

The time required : factory tour   60-90mi
                                
Tatami mat making   2hours

Booking : needed (booking is acceptable until 7days before your visit)

Access : 1hour and half by car from the centre of Okayama

  15min by car from JR Kojima station

www.ohmiyaberi.co.jp/




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Yuru-kyara (a mascot)

Some of mascots which represent a organization or a company are called ‘Yuru-kyara’. They are in a spot light in Japan at the moment.
What attracts people to Yuru-kyara is their cute and unique appearance


We have a lot of Yuru-kyara in Okayama
I'll show you some


Kinto-kun
IMG_2603resize.jpg 
He is Kinto-kun from Shouou town.
His appearance is based on the hero in an old tale, Kin-taro.
He is wearing a helmet with kanji letter which expresses the name of the town.
It’s cool



Kuramoni 
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This is a mascot of Kurashiki morning market.
It puts wisteria flowers which grow in Kurashiki City on its head.
The design on the hat and pants reminds us the pattern of the wall of Japanese traditional houses.
It walks shaking its bottom. So cute


JA fighter Shine
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He comes from Agricultural Cooperatives in Tsuyama.
He is fighting against an insect pest and other enemies to protect farm products.
‘T’ on his mask is the first letter of Tsuyama.



Oh! kun
IMG_2636resize.jpg
From OHK broadcasting station, Oh! kun is probably the most popular Yuru-kyara in Okayama.
From what I heard, he isn’t tidy as he hasn’t washed his loincloth for a long time


Sato-maru
IMG_2629resize.jpg 
He is from Nagi town.
He is designed to promote local vegetables. For that reason, he has a taro on his head, also he is wearing asparagus and a Welsh onion in his belt.
I’m not sure if he is attractive, but I can say he is unforgettable in some way…


Uchikko
IMG_2626resize.jpg
She is from Marugame town, Kagawa prefecture.
What she has is a fan which is made in Marugame town.
Her head looks like an onion, but it’s not


Which Yuru-kyara do you like the most

You can meet them at promotion events of each organization or company.
What’s more, a competition of Yuru-kyara from all parts of Japan is held every year

Please check it out if you had a chance
www.yurugp.jp/         (Yuru-kyara grand prix)


Kimono

Have you ever worn kimono

If you haven’t, why don’t you try it on once
However, you don’t need to buy it.
Because we have a nice kimono rental shop in Kurashiki

 
Here’s ‘Kurashiki Kimono Komachi’ near JR Kurashiki station.
DSCN4068.jpg
You can rent not only kimono but also other accessories, such as bags and shoes.
It offers many kinds of designs, so I'm sure you'll find something that you will like


By the way, kimono for women are tend to be more colourful and vivid than men’s kimono. I got an impression that women’s Kimono express the elegance and the beauty, on the other hand, men’s Kimono express the dignity.


To kick off, choose your favorite colour and pattern.

The colour that suits you is different from your favorite colour sometimes.
Choose the colour which makes your face look bright or healthy.
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There are so many different patterns in kimono.
The motifs feature seasonal plants, flowers, animals (or imaginary animals) and traditional patterns.
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We came across unique kimono made of denim.
Normally, the denim isn’t used for kimono.
However, this kimono is using the denim from Kojima region in Kurashiki City which is really soft and durable.
IMG_1666.jpg IMG_1667.jpg
Apparently, those Kimono were send to a fashion show in France last year, and it received a great deal of attention there. 


Kimono are simple, straight-seamed garments.
They are worn wrapped left side over right and fastened with a belt called ‘obi’.
For that reason, kimono are available in most of the sizes.


Although, the only problem is that it’s not easy to put on by yourself.
Even most of Japanese women don’t know how to ware it.
But, don’t worry A professional Kimono fitter helps you here.


Let’s try
First, put on ‘jyuban’, an underwear for Kimono.


Next, decide the length of Kimono.
It seems to be too long now, but it can be altered for height later.
 

Put on kimono and wrap it around your body. Then, secure with a sash.
IMG_1687.jpg 1691補正
Please make sure that put left side over right side.
Since the opposite is the same way as ‘shini-shozoku’ , clothing for dead person


To make the length shorter, tuck up Kimono and secure it with a sash again.
It’s called ‘ohashori’
IMG_1696.jpg  IMG_1695.jpg
 

It’s almost done
At last, put on obi and tighten it.
IMG_1700.jpg IMG_1707.jpg

 
Obi works as not only a belt, but also an accessory
So, there’s a large variety of the way to tie it 
DSCN4109.jpg 1670補正


When you wear kimono, you put on tabi (two-fingered socks)’ and zouri (Japanese traditional shoes)’.
DSCN4134.jpg 4111補正 
Each item has beautiful patterns on it.
So, you can enjoy a combination of colours and patterns that conjured up images of the season.
 

The choice of accessories, such as combs, pins worn in the hair, and belts are also important.
IMG_1671.jpg IMG_1677.jpg
 

We also wore haori (jacket)’ and shawls because it’s too cold outside
IMG_1781.jpg 


It took about 20min to finish changing
We look nice in kimono  …what do you think
IMG_1711.jpg 


You might find that you can’t move your legs and arms freely because kimono is too tight. However, it’ll get easier and you’ll get used to it soon.


Today, I’ll show you some nice spots in Kurashiki which go well with kimono.
If you ask me, Kurashiki is the best place to stroll wearing Kimono, since the historic townscape of Kurashiki really matches the traditional costume.
IMG_1784.jpg 
DSCN4113.jpg 
So, shall we go for a lunch next


Kurashiki Kimono Komachi
Address: the ground floor of Ohashi building
                 3-3-1 Achi, Kurashiki City
Tel: 086-427-0132
Opening time: 9:00-19:00
Rental price: 1 day(9:00-18:00) from 4500yen /men, from 3500yen / women 
                       Night (15:00-next 12:00)  from 5500yen /men, from 4500yen / women
Access: 3min walk from JR Kurashiki station (the south exit)
kimonokomachi.jp/index.html 
member.zige.jp/top  (blog)
www.facebook.com/#!/pages/%E5%80%89%E6%95%B7%E7%9D%80%E7%89%A9%E5%B0%8F%E7%94%BA/141304232612761  (facebook page)




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the Doll Festival (Hina-matsuri) and Hina dolls

In Japan, people celebrate the Doll Festival (Hina-matsuri)’ on March 3rd

It’s a celebration for girls, and parents display Hina dolls in their house wishing good health and happiness for their children. It’s believed that hina dolls protect girls from evil.


The appearance of hina dolls is heavily influenced by the glamorous fashions and lifestyle of the Imperial court of the Heian era (about 1000years ago).


Originally, hina doll was a pair of dolls representing the Emperor and the Empress
However, over time, the number of dolls increased.
As the result of that, their servants and furniture were added to the original form.
IMG_1983.jpg 
Hina dolls are desplayed on special shelves like this.


By the way, do you know how the Doll Festival (Hina-matsuri) started
The origins of the hina dolls date back to the Heian era.

At that time, a seasonal purification event of Chinese origin was popular among noble people. In March, people used to wash paper dolls down the river praying for good fortune.
It was also popular to play with dolls among girls in the highest social class. The dolls called ‘Hiina’, and they are considered another origin of hina dolls.

It's thought that the Doll Festival as we know it today began several centuries later, when the ancient custom of playing with hiina dolls merged with the seasonal purification event.


To learn more about hina doll, we visited a doll shop ‘Ningyo no Nakazawa’ in Okayama City

The shop offers a wide range of hina dolls.
The price is around 100 thousand yen, but some of them cost around one million yen
Do you find it expensive
However, once you get hina dolls, you can enjoy it for your whole life.
So, it might be the right price


Then, shall we have a look at hina dolls
This is the Empress
 バラ寿司 158
She is wearing a layered kimono, ‘Jyuni-hitoe’ which used to be a full dress for women in the Heian era.


The combination of the colours is following the rule of ‘kasane-irome (colour matching)which has been passed down from the Heian era.
バラ寿司 157  バラ寿司 155
The look of her face is calm, and beautiful.


Whereas, this is the Emperor.
バラ寿司 198
He’s wearing ‘sokutai’ and a crown, and he’s holding a wooden mace as well.
The pattern of sokutai is varied.
For instance, this pattern is called ‘kiritakehouo-mon’, it’s only for the Emperor


What attached to the crown is ‘ei’. It shows the status of the person.
A standing ei is the symbol of the Emperor.
バラ寿司 160 バラ寿司 161 
As you can see, there are two types, single ei and double ei.
The double one is more formal.


By the way, the placement order of the dolls today is different from it in the old times.
1986補正 
This is a traditional placement order, the Emperor is on the right side, and the opposite side is the Empress. It’s associated with the old etiquette.

Years ago, a seat on the right side was considered a seat of honor.
For that reason, the Emperor is displayed on the right.


However, the order has changed in the Showa era.
At the enthronement ceremony of Showa Emperor, he took a seat on the left side.
Since then, the order of hina dolls was also changed.

Well, eventually both placement orders remain now.
Although, the dolls tend to be displayed according to the traditional way in Kansai (west Japan).


Hina dolls was born about 1000years ago, and over time, the number of display shelves increased and the decorations became more and more extravagant.

This one has seven shelves. It’s about 1.5m high, about 1m wide
バラ寿司 175
It’s absolutely luxurious


It’s modeled on the royal wedding in the Heian era.
You can see 13 people besides the royal couple.


I’ll introduce them to you

On the second shelf, there are three female servants.
バラ寿司 187 
1983トリ 
If you look carefully, you’ll realize the lady in the middle doesn’t have her eyebrows.
It’s because married women were supposed to shave their eyebrows at that time.
 

Then, on the third shelf, you see five musicians.
Each person plays different kind of instrument, such as Japanese flute, drums etc…
バラ寿司 178 


And, the body guards are on the fourth shelf.
The older one is ‘the Minister of left’, and the other is ‘the Minister of right’.
バラ寿司 185 バラ寿司 186


Workers who are doing chores in the Imperial court are on the fifth shelf.
I’m fond of them bacause their faces are really funny
Each face shows different emotions, sadness, anger, and joy.
バラ寿司 184 バラ寿司 183 バラ寿司 182

 
On the bottom of the shelf, there’s some bride’s household stuff.
Even though they're tiny, they were made from the same materials as their real-life equivalents, using the same techniques.
バラ寿司 189 バラ寿司 191
(left) lunch boxes
(right) a palanquin

Life is so elegant in the world of hina dolls
It was made in the hope that the daughters of the family would become happy



Recently, there’s also a demand for small hina dolls since most people don’t have enough room for big hina dolls.
For that reason, compact ‘kimekomi hina dolls’ are popular nowadays.
バラ寿司 165 
They are so lovely


Look at her face
バラ寿司 167 
To my surprise, her eyes are drawn with more than 50 thin lines.
The face was painted carefully with extremely thin brush.
The process makes the face richly expressive.



I hope you enjoyed the world of hina dolls

If you’d like to see more hina dolls, I recommend you to join some the Doll Festival (Hina-matsuri) events taken place all over Japan around February and March.

It must be fun
www.okayama-kanko.jp/hinaguru2012/   (Hina-matsuri events in Okayama)


Ningyo no Nakazawa
Address: 1-2-10 Nakayama shita, Kita Ward, Okayama City
Tel: 086-222-3523
Opening time: 10:00-19:00
Access: 10min walk from JR Okayama station
ningyononakazawa.com/





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Setsubun (the bean-throwing ceremony)

We celebrateSetsubun (the bean-throwing ceremony)’ on February 3rd in Japan. Setsubun means 'seasonal division', and it's the day before the spring starts according to the lunar calendar.

For many centuries, people of Japan have been performing rituals with the purpose of chasing away evil spirits at the start of the spring.

In modern times, the most commonly performed setsubun ritual is the throwing of roasted beans at Oni (a demon : a symbol of evils)’.
Generally, one member of a family wear a mask of Oni, and the others throw beans at Oni.
Also, it’s common to attend the bean-throwing ceremony at temples and shrines.


On February 3rd, we attended the bean-throwing ceremony at Saijyo Inari temple in Okayama City.
What’s more, Momotaro joined us. Hi
1796加工

It takes about 40min by car from the Centre of Okayama City.

Saijyo Inari temple is one of the greatest temples in Japan, it has a history of 1200years. That is a gate (torii) of the temple. It’ s huge
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It is 27.5m high, 2800t in weight… Spectacular


(left) This street is ‘Monzen machi’ which leads to the temple. 
         Shops and restaurants are lining along the street.
(right) ‘Niou gate’.  It adopted the architectural style of India. 
IMG_1866resize.jpg  IMG_1836resize.jpg

 
I run into ‘Oni’  He was terrifying…
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As a matter of fact, Oni often appears in Japanese old tails as an enemy of people.


Finally, we arrived at the main shrine.
The way to here was crowded, so we rushed at the end.
IMG_1798resize.jpg 最上稲荷 006
(left) That is the main shrine.
(right) The beans was thrown from the wall behind us.


The bean-throwing started
I saw many people (about 750people) on the wall throwing  the beans to us.
They are calledFuku otoko (a lucky man)’ and ‘Fuku onna (a lucky woman)’.
最上稲荷 025編集  020トリミング
There were also three TV stars invited as guests.
One of them is a well-known actress, so some boys were cheering


The red stuff in the air is a bag of beans
Everyone was making desperate efforts to get the beans…
豆まき_旅ネット IMG_1851resize.jpg

©Hareranman Okayama tabi net
What surprised me was the power of old ladies
Eventually I was pushed away and carried away from the crowd...
Be careful not to fall over when you first attend the bean-throwing


We got some bags of beans at last Good job
IMG_1827resize.jpg  


Then, I realized that each bag has a lottery on its back.
IMG_1830resize.jpg IMG_1859resize.jpg Luckily, Yan won a prize
The prize was ‘Goen manjyu (lucky cake)’. Congratulations


Apparently, about 30 thousand of people attended the ceremony… my goodness



The bean-throwing is performed at home as well.
What you have to do first is buying a mask of Oni and roasted beans at the supermarket.
IMG_1874resize.jpg IMG_1879resize.jpg 
Choose one person who wears Oni mask (usually it’s going to be a father),
and throw beans at Oni shouting 'Oni wa soto! Fuku wa uchi! (Get out evils, come in Happiness)'.


After throwing the beans, you are supposed to eat the number of beans, which corresponds to your age.
Since it’s believed that the beans make you healthy and happy
IMG_1900resize.jpg 


We also have a special food for Setsubun.
IMG_1868resize.jpg IMG_1909resize.jpg
As you can see, it’s a long sushi roll which is called ‘Ehou roll’.
People eat it facing toEhou (the direction deemed to be lucky)’.
Ehou roll has seven kinds of ingredients in it, as 7 is considered auspicious in Japan.


It’s Momotaro’s favorite
IMG_1920resize.jpg 

Recently, the sweets modeled on Ehou roll are receiving a great deal of the attention.

IMG_1885resize.jpg 最上稲荷 074
What we came into was a rolled cake.
There were some different flavor, such as strawberry, black beans and chestnut. 
This cake becoming popular among young women.   


Shall we try it

Oh, don’t forget facing to Ehou of this year. North-northwest is Ehou of 2012.
Besides, you are not supposed to speak or make sounds while eating Ehou roll since you might lose your luck.
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It’s tasty To be honest, I prefer this cake to sushi roll


How do you find Setsubun
I hope you can join us to cerebrate it someday.
I wish you a year filled with good things


Saijyo Inari temple
Address: 712 Takamatsu Inari, Kita ward, Okayama City
Tel: 086-287-3700
Access: 10min by car from Soja IC
               40min on foot or 5min by car from JR Bicchu Takamatsu station 
               30min by Chutetsu bus from JR Okayama station, get off at Inariyama bus stop
http://www.inari.ne.jp/about/index.html







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