Thursday, November 29, 2012

November 4 - 5, 1953 Back to the River and Arts and Crafts of Kyoto

Diary Entry:  Nov. 4, 1953

"B went to the consulate in Kobe to register and I spent the day with the children.  Bray's children came to play & we played in the yard.  B brought home shovels for the children so we went to the river to play in the sand.  3 Japanese children came & all played very nicely.  Such runny noses and such cute children.  Prayer meeting at our house.  B is talking on education at home."

"Kyoto is the center of the arts and crafts industry of Japan.  Visitors are welcome in the shops where workmen make pieces of cloisonne, lacquer ware, or block prints.
Cloisonne buttons

Lacquer ware coasters

Lacquer ware can be found in all Japanese homes.  Bowls, trays, chopsticks and many things commonly used by the people are made of lacquer.  Most of the pieces are black or red and trimmed gold.

The base of lacquer ware is wood.  It is first coated with the lacquer, which is the sap of a special tree. After this is dry the piece is covered with cloth before it is given many (sometimes fifty or sixty) more coats of lacquer.  The lacquer must dry in a damp place for many hours between coats.

Woodblock, Utagawa Hiroshige

Pictures made by wood block printing have been popular with the Japanese for hundreds of years.  The picture is first painted in water color on paper.  Then the picture is transferred to blocks of cherry wood.  The wood is cut away until only the part of the picture to be printed in one color is left.  A block is cut for every color to be used.  Colored ink is put on the blocks and the picture making begins as the paper is spread onto the block and rubbed with a pad of woven reeds.  The paper is dried and another block is used.  These steps continue until the picture is complete." 

(Dragon-fly Land:  Japan, by Bonnie Belshe, 1955)

Diary Entry:  Nov. 5, 1953

"Left early with Winnie Harbin for Kyoto.  Lovely drive.  Women putting rice or highway so cars could thresh out rice.  Farmers burning rice ruined by typhoon flood. 

Found silk mill having a sale.  Got habutae for futon, blouse material & dress material for me and Ann.  Went to Unata Damascene factory (saw workmen making damascene).

Had lovely pearl jewelry, 8000y ring, & lovely silver jewelry.  Down the street to block print shop.  Saw demonstrations of cutting blocks & printing blocks.  To OSS & home.  Bob & Jimmy went back to school."


  1. What beautiful artwork and so intricate.

    1. I agree and so admire the beautiful handwork of the Japanese craftsmen and women.


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