June 2024

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Are you using an uchiwa? It is believed that uchiwa were introduced from China during the Kofun period, and wooden uchiwa, which remain in wall paintings, were ceremonial utensils. In the Heian period (794-1185), they were used by high-ranking people to hide their faces to show their authority, and in the Warring States period (1467-1568), they were used to show the family crests of the military. As time went by, they were mass-produced as daily life tools for the common people, and their meaning as "something to be enjoyed" grew. Today, as some of you may have experienced, uchiwa fans are used as a communication tool to express your daily vitality and "推し (favorite)".

It was probably at the Paris Exposition of 1867 that such uchiwa fans were introduced overseas as a form of "Japonism." Uchiwa were already exported to the Netherlands and China before that, but they became widely known when the Tokugawa Shogunate learned the concept of Western "world expositions," and the Edo Shogunate, Satsuma Clan, and Saga Clan each exhibited at the Paris Expo in 1867, the Meiji Government participated in the Vienna Expo in 1873, and then again in 1878 when the Paris Expo was held. When the Paris Expo was held in 1878, Japonism, or admiration for Japan, seemed to flourish. Already in 1872, the Meiji government's export statistics show that about 800,000 fans and 1 million uchiwa fans were exported. It is interesting to know what they were used for and how. Japonism was also very popular in the art world, with Renoir's "Girl with a Fan" depicting an uchiwa fan and Japanese chrysanthemum-like flowers in the background and Manet's "Lady with a Fan." Monet's "La Japonaise" depicts his wife Camille, dressed in uchikake, holding a fan, with many fans in the background. Monet's taste for Japan was well known, and he owned hundreds of ukiyoe prints. The Japan they saw must have been quite novel. On the other hand, from our side, the composition of uchiwa fans decorating the entire background, which is unimaginable in Japan, is very fresh.

Currently, the Tokyo Retro Okuno Building also attracts visitors from abroad who are interested in Japanese culture. At the Ginza showroom, everyone is eagerly looking at our products and admiring our foreign language website. Above all, we are very happy that they are interested in Japanese culture, tools, and techniques. I am sure that the members of the Shogunate's delegation who participated in the Expo must have been very excited to see the shining eyes of the local people. I wish I had better language skills! I am struggling daily to improve my language skills, but I am also making discoveries and discoveries that are giving me a fresh feeling. Please visit the Okuno Building and Ginza Showroom for a glimpse into a slightly more relaxing side of Japan.

Ginza Showroom
Mikimoto Ginza 4-chome Main Store
Kurikawa Shoten's Shibu Uchiwa





[Iced Matcha Soy Latte]

The other day, I heard that it would be as hot as midsummer, so I prepared more ice in the freezer than usual the day before. On such a hot day, I thought I would want a cold drink in the house.

I made a café-style version of matcha green tea, which I usually drink straight after brewing. First, put soy milk and sugar in a pot and heat it to dissolve the sugar completely. While the pot is cooling, prepare the matcha. After lowering the temperature of the hot water with a yuzamashi, whisk the thicker matcha using a Matcha Katakuchi. Pour the soy milk from the pot into a glass filled with ice, then gently pour in the matcha. If the sugar in the soy milk is too concentrated, it will separate nicely.

Relax a little with a cool, sweet drink. Enjoy it in your favorite glass.

Susumuya's Matcha Katakuchi
Azmaya's Yuzamashi
Azmaya's Juicer (can also be used as a small hot water cooler)







[Mojiko Banana Hawking]

Banana hawking is a traditional art of selling bananas at auction that developed in the Kanmon region, which separates Honshu and Kyushu in Japan. It is said to have originated in the early Taisho period (1912-1926) as a means of quickly selling bananas that had ripened on board during transportation. It was once discontinued during the war but was revived in 1976 thanks to the efforts of residents, and now the history and the art have been preserved and handed down by the "Mojiko Banana Hawking Federation. In April 2017, it was recognized as a Japan Heritage site as one of the cultural assets of the "Kanmon Nostalgic Straits."

The other day, I "bought" bananas for the first time at a banana auction. Since the auction follows a Dutch auction format, where the price starts high and gradually decreases, I told my son to wait a little while before trying to buy bananas, but he was so eager to buy that he quickly grabbed a 1,000-yen bill and went to the front, followed by the other children who also went out to buy one after another. I was very sorry for the situation...but even under such circumstances, the power of his skillful storytelling and tempo to excite the audience and lead to more sales was breathtaking. I believe that this is a skill that only a human being can achieve. I felt that the business of moving people's hearts is similar to that of storytelling and rakugo.

The bananas I bought at the banana sale were not the kind of bananas that had to be eaten immediately, as in the past, but magnificent bananas. They were very beautiful and fine bananas, and I felt their weight was very heavy. "Mom, you have to do that too." I was a little chagrined, but strangely convinced, when my son said to me as soon as we bought the bananas, smiling smugly and eating them with relish.

Wakamatsu Showroom