Searching all of Japan for handcrafted items that express its heart and soul, our proprietor, KASHIYUKA, presents things that bring a bit of luxury to everyday life. On this trip she followed a path of clean, fresh air to the township of Takachiho, Miyazaki. There she came across nawa-kazari, straw amulets, made from rice straw an artisan grows himself and painstakingly braids into traditional objects of good fortune.
Shimenawa , the ancient Shinto rope talisman, is something one always sees during New Year celebrations, or so I thought. In the township of Takachiho, Miyazaki prefecture, building entrances and shop and home interiors are adorned with them year-round.
I visited Warazaiku Takubo, settled in this old, sacred ground, sometimes called a “mythic village”, where the studio has been making sacramental straw ropes and decorative amulets for more than 60 years. Dotted all about by Shinto shrines, I sensed a purifying air flowing through the place.
”You cultivate the rice paddy, grow rice and pull the straw. From that you braid nawa (rope), and form it into a decoration that serves to bring fortune. It’s the most fundamental of handcrafts.”
So says third-generation scion, Mr. Yoichiro Kai. All around the studio, filled with the fragrance of green straw, are nawa-kazari, ornaments in the shapes of roosters, turtles, plum blossoms and the like. There are two kinds of rice straw, with the green grown specifically for nawa-kazari. Yellow rice straw is the product of sun-drying rice for consumption. Over time the color lessens, and the patina the objects take on becomes part of their appeal.