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Koinobori, Children's Day, Mingei at Muji, and You You Ang Incense

Publié le mai 03 2021

In Japan May 5th is Children's day and we celebrate with the traditional Koinobori, which are known as carp streamers, and would air swim when the wind passes through them !

Koinobori (鯉のぼり), is the name for "carp streamer" in Japanese, which are made by drawing carp patterns on paper, cloth or other non-woven fabric, and among which the nylon is the most popular fabric used to make koinobori nowadays in Japan.

Koinobori would be hung out of house windows all over Japan since end April to early May, to celebrate the Tango no Sekku festival (端午の節句), which is now designated more as the national holiday, the Children's Day (Kodomo no Hi, 子供の日), in honor of children for a good future, and in the hope that they will grow up healthy and strong !

Traditionally, a typical koinobori set, called flying-dragon streamer (飛龍吹流し hiryū fukinagashi), which consists of, from the top of the pole down, a pair of arrow-spoked wheels (矢車 yaguruma) with a ball-shaped spinning vane. 

These koinobori range from a few centimetres to a few metres long. In 1988, a 100m long koinobori weighing 350kg was made in Kazo, Saitama. 

The koinobori set traditionally contains a black koinobori, which represents the father, followed by a smaller, red koinobori representing his eldest son.

If there are more boys in the household, an additional blue or green koinobori would be added, and then, depending on the region, either purple or orange koinobori will be used instead. After the government's decree that converted Boy's Day into the present Children's Day (Kodomo no Hi), the holiday came to celebrate the happiness of both boys and girls now. At present, the koinobori are commonly flown above the roofs of houses, with the biggest (black) koinobori for the father, next biggest (red or pink) for the mother, and an additional, smaller carp of a different color for each child in decreasing order by age.

The carp was chosen as a symbol for Childrens Day because Japanese consider it the most spirited fish, with full of energy and power that it can fight its way up swift-running streams and cascades. Because of its strength and determination to overcome all obstacles, it stands for courage and the ability to attain high goals.

Since these are also traits desired in boys, samurai warrior figurines and samurai kabuto helmets are also displayed in homes to inspire strength and bravery.

Children's Day, has been celebrated for more than 700 years, but no one knows exactly when or why it began. One story says that it started in the year 1282, as a celebration for a victory won by samurai warriors in a battle with invaders.

Mingei Exhibition at Muji Ginza

 

Message from the curator Naoto Fukasawa:

Some people say MUJI items are examples of modern mingei (folk crafts) or mingu (folk utensils).

There are, of course, differences in the methods of production, yet I do think the two share common features. For instance, neither displays the artist’s name on the product, and both take a selfless, honest approach to crafting items without ornamentation. With both mingei and MUJI, the beauty the objects radiate comes from quietly fulfilling their purpose. The term mingei was coined by Soetsu Yanagi and literally means “folk craft” or “art of the common people.” Yanagi called attention to the wholesome, common beauty and warmth found in utilitarian handicrafts produced for ordinary people, unlike elegant items of finery intended for ornamental display.

Soetsu Yanagi was an advocate of the unique “aesthetics of the object”—specifically, the objects woven deeply into the daily lives of the people. He established The Japan Folk Crafts Museum (Nihon Mingeikan) in 1936 in the hope of sharing his collection of 17,000 mingei craft items—along with their aesthetic—with as many people as possible. Today, the Museum remains active as a base for the Mingei Movement, devoted to spreading awareness of those aesthetics.

MUJI, meanwhile, was established in 1980, with the aim of providing the genuine value of simplicity and abundance, as opposed to the brand-name, logo-oriented marketing strategies of the day.

One might call MUJI itself—and the products it creates—a sort of contemporary mingei movement. The Japan Folk Crafts Museum and MUJI both aspire to highlight the spirit that is interwoven with peaceful, casual, day-to-day life—the places and spaces in life that people treasure most. Mingei is a wellspring of power to create beauty. The “MINGEI—The Shape of Beautiful Living” exhibition aims to introduce the essence of this powerful spirit to visitors. I would be delighted if this event were to serve as a catalyst for new forms of artisanry and offer a glimpse into the craftsmanship of the future.

Naoto Fukasawa / Director, The Japan Folk Crafts Museum

Just next door is Muji Hotel Ginza: https://hotel.muji.com/en/

                        

                               You You Ang Incense:

YOU YOU ANG's incense is all made in Japan with the concept of "Wabi - Sabi" and "Iki" that only Japanese culture has. They selected traditional Japanese paper, Japanese flowers, trees, and various signature fragrant wood in Japan for the making of their incenses, and they value a lot also the detailed texture of the incense, created from the effort and the taste of the design team.  Scents Bows & Arrows carry include:
- Hinoki Cypress - Negative Ion : A refreshing scent that uses plenty of cypress oil that is familiar to Japanese culture. This "Negative Ion" Incense cleans the space of the room and is gentle on the body and mind with the soft scent of nature. 
- Cherry Blossom - Negative Ion: The sweet scent of double-flowered cherry blossoms that bloom many times. This "Negative Ion" Incense cleans the space of the room and is gentle on the body and mind with the soft scent of nature. 
-White Sandlewood - This is an incense stick for purification, made from sandalwood, Indonesian natural oil, and 5% crystal powder. This special gift packing carries a natural fragrance from the incense inside the bottle, which will be ideal for gifting to loved ones !
Aloeswood - Negative Ion - The ultimate incense tree "Kara" has been reproduced using Chinese medicine and agarwood from Southeast Asia. This "Negative Ion" Incense cleans the space of the room and is gentle on the body and mind with the soft scent of nature. 
- Argarwood - This is an incense stick for purification, made from agarwood, Indonesian natural oil, and 5% crystal powder.  This special gift packing carries a natural fragrance from the incense inside the bottle, which will be ideal for gifting to loved ones.
- Incense for Diet Treatment: Incense with a prescription of Chinese herbs tailored to various symptoms. Normally, Chinese medicine is also used when making incense, but this "Kampo incense" contains 10 times more Chinese medicine than usual. Also contains sandalwood oil (sandalwood), which is said to bring happiness, and Chinese herbal medicine, licorice and rhubarb.  Exotic and graceful scent. It is said to calm the mind and suppress binge eating. Since it is an incense that enjoys the scent, it cannot be said that it can be scientifically proved, but why not reduce the excess from your heart?
- Herbs to treat InsomniaThis is an incense series made with prescriptions of Chinese herbs, tailoring to treat various symptoms. The Chinese herbal medicine is traditionally used in making incenses in Japan, but this "Kampo incense" contains 10 times more Chinese herbal medicine components than the regular incenses in the market. This incense contains lavender oil, which is known for relieving body tension, licorice, and also soybean paste, which are the carefully selected Chinese herbs for the effect.
-Incense for Cold Treatment: Lavender oil, which is said to be a panacea for aroma. This also contains various Chinese herbal medicines like as Pinellia ternata. A light and gentle scent. It's characterized by the cool scent of lavender. It has an elegant finish with natural aroma oil. "Saiko", "Hange", "Ougon", and "Peony" are mixed in the ratio of Saiko Keishito (Japanese herbal medicine). The scent of lavender is combined with the depth of Chinese medicine to create an adult scent with less sweetness.It is not an actual cold remedy, but the scent of lavender, which has an outstanding relaxing effect, leads the body to a good condition.
- Moon Box Set:  A mellow, gentle, moon-inspired scent This incense series scent expresses the seasonal sensations of "snow," "moon," and "flower." This is an incense set with a customized paulownia wooden box gift packing from Japan. The set includes also a ceramic stand for the sticks.
- Flower Box Set: This incense series  scent expresses the seasonal sensations of "snow," "moon," and "flower." Flower: A scent inspired by cherry blossoms, a deep Japanese flower. This is an incense set with a customised paulownia wooden box gift packing from Japan. The set includes also a ceramic stand for the sticks. 
- Cherry Blossom Box Set: This is an incense that traps the cherry blossom season that passes in an instant. The sweet scent of double-flowered cherry blossoms that bloom many times. The package design with real cherry blossom branches tied together makes it a perfect gift.
Incense Holder: A "stone incense plate" that fits long incense perfectly. Simple mirror finish and ash cleaning are easy with a quick wipe. The material is granite, and felt is pasted on the back. The incense stand is made of solid brass and is heavy so you can burn a long incense  without any worries.