Kokontozai: KASHIYUKA’s Shop of Japanese Arts and Crafts / [Rope Amulet]
January 8, 2019 | Design, Travel | photo_Keisuke Fukamizu editor_Masae Wako hair&make-up_Masako Osuga translation_ Mika Yoshida & David G. Imber
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.
Mentioned in the Kojiki of 712 CE, Japan’s oldest historical record, Takachiho is a place steeped in legend where, at the Warazaiku Takubo studio, one finds talismanic rope and other artifacts in rice straw. Our shopkeeper, KASHIYUKA, looked closely on as third-generation studio master Mr. Yoichiro Kai crafted the straw, and she was deeply impressed by the beauty of his movement.
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.
Purchase No. 10【 Rope Amulet 】 Braided rice straw, transformed into an unassumingly beautiful “gesture of prayer”.
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.
Forming the face of the rooster.
The rice they grow is only what they, themselves consume, and they manufacture the nawa-kazari from the straw.
”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.