Monday, July 16, 2012

Rokkaan: Ukiyo-e and Traditional Japanese Craft

Another fabulous shop that I visited in Kappabashi the other day, besides the cool wax food store, is a shop that was right next door actually! That shop is named Rokkaan Co. Ltd. 

Rokkaan specializes in rare and hard to find breath-taking beautiful Ukiyo-e prints and Japanese crafts.

Here's what Wikipedia has to say about Ukiyo-e

Ukiyo-e (浮世絵 literally "pictures of the floating world") is a genre of Japanese woodblock prints (orwoodcuts) and paintings produced between the 17th and the 20th centuries, featuring motifs of landscapes, tales from history, the theatre, and pleasure quarters. It is the main artistic genre of woodblock printing in Japan.

Usually the word ukiyo is literally translated as "floating world" in English, referring to a conception of an evanescent world, impermanent, fleeting beauty and a realm of entertainments (kabuki, courtesans, geisha) divorced from the responsibilities of the mundane, everyday world; "pictures of the floating world", i.e. ukiyo-e, are considered a genre unto themselves.

The contemporary novelist Asai Ryōi, in his Ukiyo monogatari (浮世物語 "Tales of the Floating World", c. 1661), provides some insight into the concept of the floating world:

"... Living only for the moment, turning our full attention to the pleasures of the moon, the snow, the cherry blossoms and the maple leaves; singing songs, drinking wine, diverting ourselves in just floating, floating; ... refusing to be disheartened, like a gourd floating along with the river current: this is what we call the floating world..."

The art form rose to great popularity in the metropolitan culture of Edo (Tokyo) during the second half of the 17th century, originating with the single-color works of Hishikawa Moronobu in the 1670s. At first, only India ink was used, then some prints were manually colored with a brush, but in the 18th century Suzuki Harunobu developed the technique of polychrome printing to produce nishiki-e.

Mr. Kentaro Shimada, Senior Advisor to Rokkaan Co. Ltd. at his desk. Mr. Shimada speaks English too!

Ukiyo-e along the wall of Rokkaan. These beautiful works of art must be seen in person, up close, to be appreciated. Thusly, Rokkaan has a web page but encourages customers to come in and see the exact prints of interest because each one is one-of-a-kind and, even if the art is the same print, background papers can change colors or tones fade differently over time.

For those who love the Japanese traditional art but can't come up close to see it before spending money on it, or for those looking for a very tasteful present from Japan, Rokkaan sells traditional Japanese art designed notebooks...

...and postcards!

To see much more wonderful Japanese art, go to Rokkaan in person or visit their webpage below! Tell Shimada san that "Mike Rogers sent you!"

Rokkaan Co. Ltd.

Tel / Fax: 03-6317-8099
Business hours: 11:00~19:00 irregular holiday

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