Posts Tagged ‘japanese’

My wagasa 1

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This old Japanese umbrella is made from a heavy rice paper hand painted with peacocks and flowers. It has a bamboo handle and a metal cap on top. For being over 100 years old this “wagasa”  is in good condition.

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Wagasa – Traditional Japanese Umbrellas

Since its introduction to Japan over 1000 years ago, the Japanese have gone beyond seeing the umbrella as merely a tool. Indeed, they are objects of beauty in their own right.

Traditional Japanese umbrellas or Wagasa (和傘), are made of bamboo (竹), wood, and washi (和纸: Japanese traditional paper), fortified and made waterproof with persimmon, linseed oil and China wood oil.

There are many types of Japanese umbrella:

Bangasa (番伞): traditional rain umbrella made of bamboo and oiled paper.

Janome (蛇の目: umbrella in snake eye pattern): is blue in the center and at the edges, and white in between, and looks like the eye of a snake when viewed from above. This umbrella does have variations, such as painted black rings on the surface and the application of other materials.

Maigasa (舞伞) or Buyôgasa (舞踊伞): is a wonderful parasol used traditionally for classical Japanese dance, is more lightweight in nature, allowing for delicate and graceful moves. Maigasa is status symbol of “mai”(舞) dancer but not be used in the rain.

Nodategasa (野点傘): is a type of umbrella used for shade in Japanese processions and open air tea ceremonies (茶の湯).

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While a typical western umbrella has eight ribs holding up the covering, a traditional Japanese umbrella has 30-40 ribs. This is due to the particular structure of these umbrellas, wherein thin bamboo ribs positioned closely together support and push the washi paper outwards to open.



The ribs of a Japanese umbrella are made of a single bamboo cane, which is split lengthways into equal-sized pieces. When attaching these ribs to the covering, they are rearranged back into the order in which they were split, so that when the umbrella is closed, it closes neatly with the bamboo pieces coming together to form the shape of the original cane. Its composition is so delicate that if there is even the slightest damage to the bamboo or a miscalculation with the rearrangement occurs, the umbrella will not open.The geometrically spaced ribs beautifully spread out from the center to create an elegant shape.


When closed, bamboo is strong and durable more than expected, due to being transformed into a form of its bamboo cylinder.

When opened, however, it is not strong enough due to thin bamboo ribs connected with the threads with washi paper glued to the frames, which requires good care for a longer use. If kept in good shape, a 20 year old umbrella may be usable to your surprise. Wagasa may look simple, but it requires a complex technique since paper must be folded nicely after it is pasted on the frame.


The umbrella was invented in ancient China as a canopy to be held over a nobleman. It was introduced to Japan through Kudara (the Korean peninsula) as part of Buddhist ceremonies. Originating in the Kamakura era (镰仓时代: 1192-1333), it flourished in the Edo era (江戸时代: 1603-1867).

A girl in a kimono and  Japanese  parasol.A woman holding an umbrellaA woman is holding a parasolgirl is holding a plain parasol

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Japanese umbrella in her left hand,The woman holding a janome umbrella wears a Michiyuki coatpaper umbrella 2wagasa 2

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The umbrella in Japan was originally called “kinugasa”, but because it came from China (kara), it was also called “karakasa”. At the time, they were unlike umbrellas used today, and were more like canopies that could not be opened and closed. Their purpose was also different. These umbrellas were reserved for privileged members of society, and as well having the conventional function of a parasol, the umbrella was a status symbol that was believed to ward off evil spirits.

The umbrella has played an important role in Japanese culture, and its “Umbrella Culture” is without parallel in the rest of the world. Not only is it indispensable in everyday life for protection against rain and sun, the wagasa is also used in the world of traditional arts, such as in Noh and Kabuki theatre.

hagiwara kaeshiya basya

hagiwara kaeshiya kasa

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Currently, the kano umbrella, made in Kano, Gifu Prefecture, is proud to be to the only place in Japan to be a major producer of traditional Japanese umbrellas.

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Umbrellas & Art


Britain's Pot Metal Mikado Figure ToyEdna HIBEL ASIAN GIRL FIGURE WITH PARASOLEsther Hunt 1875-1951 dos

Gustave Vichy Automaton of a Japanese Mask Seller

Esther Hunt 1875-1951KITAGAWA UTAMARO 1753-1806  C.1797T. Nakayama watercolorUtamaro Kitagawa Japanese 1753-1806 Woman with Umbrella

FRANK SNAPP - Amer. 1872-1936 gouache on paper Lady with Parasol

Mori  Yoshitoshi 1898-1993 stencil woman with umbrellapaper parasolThe Garden Parasol, 1910 Oil on canvas

sakai izumi

Japan 2

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This is a very pretty round serving bowl that is divided into three semi-circular sections. It is decorated in art deco style. Signed with the Moriyama Mori-Machi logo and imprinted with the words “Hand Painted Japan” on the bottom. This pattern is dated from the 1920’s. It measures approx. 10″ in diameter.

Moriyama Mori-Machi Pottery

Moriyama Pottery was located in Mori-Machi in Shizuoka Prefecture. Moriyama Pottery was established in 1911 by Hidekichi Nakamura who was taught pottery making by Seison Suzuki. There are currently four studios continuing the Moriyama tradition in and around Mori-machi and they are Seison, Seizon, Nakamura and Tame. There seems to be two primary stamps: one appears to be a crown with a wreath of leaves similar to the wreath found on the Noritake stamp. This stamp is marked “Moriyama Hand Paint Japan.” The other is a bouquet of flowers and is marked “Moriyama Made in Japan.”

Moriyama Mori-Machi Marks

Moriyama examples

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This is an art deco teapot made in Kyoto, Japan with banded decoration. In the bottom has a red stamped mark: “IDEAL IRON STONE CHINA SK KYOTO TOKICO.”

Date c. 1925, Taisho period (1).

(1) Taisho (1912–26) Period in Japanese history corresponding to the reign of the Taisho emperor, Yoshihito (1879–1926). During this period the art deco movement was dominant in fashion, furniture, textiles, ceramic and porcelain.

Japanese Art Deco

Japanese Teapots

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This is a beautiful hand painted cup and saucer set by Nippon. There are gilded moriage decorations and beading on both pieces.

Style: Art Deco – Unmarked

Age: C late 19th – early 20th century

Nippon Porcelain

Nippon is not the name of the manufacturer as many think, but rather the country of origin. Today, Nippon items are among the most sought after collectibles on the antique market. In October of 1890, the “McKinley Tariff Act” required items entering the United States be marked with the country of origin. In September of 1891, the Nippon era began and lasted until 1921. During that time, merchandise from Japan, had to be marked Nippon, the Japanese name for Japan. After 1921, the United States required that imports carry the word Japan or made in Japan.

During the Nippon manufacturing era the Japanese government commissioned a number of foreign artisans to come to Japan to instruct them in the production and painting of porcelain in the European style. They were highly successful in their efforts at imitation, and much Nippon porcelain that was produced bears a strong resemblance to such European porcelain products as Limoges, Sevres, KPM, R.S. Prussia, Beleek, Wedgwood, Gouda, Royal Bayreuth, and the list goes on and on. The advantage to the American consumer of the day was that hand painted Nippon porcelain could be acquired at a fraction of the cost of its European counterparts.

Early unmarked Nippon is of higher quality. The artwork and decorations are superior. The gold was used quite lavishly on the pieces exported during this time. However, much of this gold was not very durable and today we find that a number of these pieces have much of the gold worn off.

Nippon has secured a reputation as fine art in the world of porcelain. This is because its superb techniques are being re-evaluated and the art deco and moriage (1) of Nippon are not just viewed as second-rate western style porcelains. They are viewed as outstanding artistic porcelain works.

(1) Moriage or “raised enamel decoration”: is a special type of raised decoration used on some Japanese pottery. It is the art of laying “beads” of porcelain on the item prior to firing in the kiln. Most typically it was decorated later in gold. Sometimes pieces of clay were shaped by hand and applied to the item; sometimes the clay was squeezed from a tube in the way we apply cake frosting.

Examples of Nippon Porcelain

Reproduction Alert

The authentic cracker jar is on the left. Note that the gold on the reproduction cracker jar is darker and looks burnished.

Again, note the color difference in both the porcelain and gold.

Note that the inside rim of the authentic cracker jar lid (on the left) is shaped differently than the inside lid of the reproduction.

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Mark is for Suzuki Company, a distributor which had pieces made with its mark for sale and distribution (20th century).

Souvenir Dealers:

Porcelain & Laquer: Chujyo Shoten; Harishin; Koshiishi Shoten; Miyazaki Shoten; K. Nikko; Ogurusu & Co.; Suzuki & Co.; Taniguchi & Co.; William Rae; Gengan Yamamoto; Yamato Bros. & Co.; K. Yoshida & co.


Arita, Hirado, Kitagawa, Moriyama, Dai Nippon, Nippon, Nippon Tokusei, Nichi Hon, Nippon – Izumi,

Cherry Blossom Marks, “M” and “wreath” marks, Suzuki, Samurai, Aerozon, Nippon Yoko Boeki, N&Co

Nagoya Nippon, Maruku, SPP, TMK, Hira, Takahashi Company, Ucagco Company, Arnart Imports, Shibata

Uchida, Okayama, Imura, Ardalt, Tashiro Shoten, Maruto Mu, JAPAN/MADE IN JAPAN, Bibi, CPC, AA,

Vantine, Takito Company, Seiei Company, Hand Painted, Fine China of Japan, Okura, SUNDRY

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“Seven Samurai” or “Shichinin no samurai” Directed by Akira Kurosawa

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Kutani porcelain was made in Japan after the mid-seventeenth century. Most of the pieces found today are nineteenth-century. Collectors often use the term Kutani to refer to just the later, colorful pieces decorated with red, gold, and black pictures of warriors, animals, and birds.


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