July 27, 2013

0769, 0770 JAPAN (Chūgoku) - Museum of Folkcraft in Kurashiki

Kurashiki is one of Japan's great old merchant towns, located along a scenic canal at the foot of Mount Tsurugata, and its white-walled storehouses escaped WWII largely unscathed, are beautifully preserved and open for exploration. It was the site of clashes between the Taira and Minamoto clans during the Heian period. During the Edo period, when it became an area directly controlled by the shogunate, Kurashiki did heavy trade with the capital in rice, sugar, and other goods, and later, during the Meiji Restoration, it became known for textiles. The old merchant quarter, Bikan historical area, contains many fine examples of 17th century wooden warehouses (kura) painted white with traditional black tiles, along a canal framed with weeping willows and filled with koi. The area has no electric poles in order to make the area more closely resemble the look of the Meiji period.

Museum of Folkcraft in Kurashiki, opened in 1948 as a project of the Okayama Prefecture Folkcrafts Association, is housed in three vintage structures connected by narrow corridors and old stairwells, actually renovated rice storehouses typical of the city. With the striking contrast of its white walls and black roof tiles, one may say the structure itself is an excellent example of Japanese folkcrafts. Inside, some 1,000 old and new works from around the world are on display, including pottery, woven and dyed textiles, gold work, stone carving, woodwork lacquerware, washi paper, bamboocraft and glass work.

Japanese culture is diverse, but despite this, in terms on the interior of the houses, the aesthetic is one of simplicity and minimalism, made with attention to detail and intricacy, in generally based from ideals of Taoism, imported from China. Traditional interiors incorporate natural materials (fine woods, bamboo, silk, rice straw mats, and paper shōji screens), used to keep simplicity in the space that connects to nature. Natural color schemes are used and neutral palettes including black, white, off-white, gray, and brown. The size of rooms can be altered by interior sliding walls or screens, named fusuma. Cupboards built into the wall hide futon, mattresses pulled out before going to bed, allowing more space to be available during the day. To cover the floor are used tatami, rice straw floor mats. 

Bamboo is prominently used, both for decorative and functional purposes, because its natural properties correspond to Japanese aesthetic ideals of imperfection, contrast and the natural. Bamboo blinds, sudare, replace shōji in summer to prevent excess heat inside. The use of paper, or washi, in Japanese buildings is a main component in the beauty and atmosphere of the interior, the way variation of shadow combines to create a "mystery of shadows". Often is present a recessed space called tokonoma, the focus of the room and displays Japanese art, usually a painting or calligraphy.

About the stamps

Both stamps are part of the series Travel Scenes Series Number 18  - Chiba Prefecture, issued on June 25, 2013, designed by Satoshi Maruyama and consisting of ten stamps with the same face value, 80 JPY:
• Narita-san, New victory temple
• Suigosdawarasuisei botanical garden
• Chiba Port Tower
• Nokogiri-yama ropeway
• Kominato railway
• Awamata Falls
• Desert park of the moon - it's on the second postcard
• Isumi railway - it's on the first postcard
• Choshi railway
• Inubo-zaki lighthouse

Kurashiki - Vikivoyage
Museum of Folkraft - Kurashiki home page
Japanese architecture - Wikipedia
Travel Scene Series No.18 Chiba - Mountain Stamps

sender 1, 2: Akiko Watanabe (direct swap)
sent from Kitakyushu (Japan), on 18.07.2013

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