Thursday, 24 June 2010

Han / Hanko / Inkan

Called Inkan, Hanko or Han
Seals are normally made of wood, stone, bone, ivory or plastic usually used by most Japanese as a signature.

It is a personal seal that is made of normally circular shape cylinder.
It is usually one’s family name or first name that is engraved at the bottom.
It is an essential item for everyday life in Japan, because seals are legal means of identification used instead of signature.

Seals are classified into many kinds:

Jitsu in is a registered seal that you have to register in local government office.
The use of it is for legal and official documents.

Mitome in called also Sanmon ban which means “three penny seal” is unregistered and for everyday use.

Ginko in is a bank seal. You use it to make banking transaction.
There are more rules for this one depending of which bank you are dealing with in Japan. Rules are about the sizing of the Hanko and you should always provide your full name on your Ginko in.

Gago in is more a decorating seal and usually it is your nickname or a slogan.
The Gago in is many size and many shape.
Hanko/ Inkan / Han are normally written in Kanji or Hiragana or katakana.
Foreigner’s names are almost always carved in rômaji, katakana and sometimes made out of kanji or Hiragana.

You store your Inkan in a Inkan case.


You use the Shuniku "Red Seal ink".
You use a small cloth or a tissu to clean your inkan after use.

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

Seasons in Japan the "Summer"

In Japan the month of June is called “Minazuki” that means “The month where the water runs dry” because of the big heat. Also in June, rice plantations are at their peaks and trees are green and thick.

In June it is also the start of the “Rainy Season”, it starts in the middle of the month to finish in mid July. Rainy season bring a lot of rain and a give very humid period of time for everyone.

Do you know that Nyuubai is the day which starts the rainy season and it is called “Tsuyu”?

From all time the rainy season always starts around middle of June, but as you may know the time differ each year by region and by all climatic changes.

During the rainy season children of Japan do some traditional paper dolls called “Teruteru-bozu” to pray for good weather.

The teruteru-bozu is made out of white paper or fabrics.
The tradition about the teruteru-bozu is to hang it the window with a string heads up for a fine and sunny day and head down to have some rain.

Even today this tradition is still observed by children before outside event they hang their teruteru-bozu at windows and chant a prayer.

Here is English version of the Chant:

Teru-teru-bozu, teru bozu
Do make tomorrow a sunny day
Like the sky in a dream sometime
If it's sunny I'll give you a golden bell

Teru-teru-bozu, teru bozu
Do make tomorrow a sunny day
If you make my wish come true
We'll drink lots of sweet rice wine

Teru-teru-bozu, teru bozu
Do make tomorrow a sunny day
But if the clouds are crying (it's raining)
Then I shall snip your head off

Monday, 7 June 2010


What is Noren?

The Noren is a rectangle of fabric made:
Vertically, this gives a single opening cut from bottom to top.


Horizontally, this generally gives more vertical openings cut from bottom to top.

The openings allow an easier transition for customers and provide a better visual of what is inside the shop.

Patterns and color Noren

Noren are made in many sizes, colors, materials and patterns.
It can be done with a mixture of cotton and hemp, linen, wool blend and cotton, cotton, synthetic fibers, poplin, and other mixing properties of tissue.

The noren originally were cobalt blue with the seal inscribed in white.

Now, Noren have many colors to better represent the company that bears or to satisfy the decorating that you want to create at home.

The basic dimensions of Noren are:

Standard width is about 34 cm and its length is about 1.24 m per piece Noren

Noren's name varies depending on the length of the fabric.
Ex: Noren a sushi bar, is called "half Noren"

Because in general, the length of Noren is 57cm and a width of five feet.

The Noren below a fabric of 38 cm is named "Noren draped.

The reverse rather long, with a Noren over 1.24 m is called "Noren length.

The number of cloth pieces from Noren normally correspond to favorable sales in Japan so they will number three pieces of tissue, five pieces of tissue, seven pieces of tissue.

The pieces of fabric over a large 1.80 m to 2.70 m hanging from the eaves, and supported is called "Noren awnings".
The Noren is filled with air and gives a sound when the wind is called "Noren barrel"

The origin of Noren
At first it was called Nanren and over the centuries was called nonren, Nauren and nohren before reaching its contemporary form Noren.

History Noren

The Noren has a long relationship with the Japanese people.

At the Jomon era...
It was this period that the acquired Noren are useful as windbreaks

In the Heian era...
They begin to be used in everyday ordinary people with the aim to separate the space into a large room to create a room on one side and another space for other uses on the other. He also served at the entrance of the house for protection against wind and rain.

In the Muromachi era...
Most common tools of the trade in people (as displayed) the use of a curtain at the entrance to stores, he began to be used for advertising.

A variety of applications it found commercial advertising or partition and tapestries, decorative, it has an infinite value.

Use of Noren

A wide variety of use for the Noren, a Japanese fabric divider room, curtain, curtain door or window curtain.

Although initially intended to protect those inside against both external elements and prying eyes of passersby, the rapid development of technical textile dyeing

The Noren are traditionally used by shops and restaurants as a means of protection against sun, wind and dust, and as an advertising space.

Sento (public bath) also have Noren also crossing their entrances, typically blue for men and red for women with the kanji 汤 (yu, lit. Hot water) or the corresponding hiragana ゆ.

The Izakaya also use it much.

They are also hung in the main entrance of the shop to mean that the property is open to the public, and they are always removed at the end of the business day.

During the Muromachi period people used the Noren to display their family name or advertise their products. It is also good for measuring business reputation.

Using Noren is well known and beloved tradition in Japanese companies.

Noren is the unique culture of Japan, the same lifestyle, power and functionality as an interior space that can never be neglected is very grateful and they offer superb production of the season.

Sunday, 6 June 2010


What is a Tokonoma and its origin?

Tokonoma means "Alcove".

The spiritual center of the traditional Japanese house is the Tokonoma.
We can find less and less Tokonoma in newJapanese constructions.

The Tokonoma is normally in the tatami room (Guest room) and its size can be different size according to available space in the house.

Today, the Tokonoma is the size of two tatami mats and it is slightly elevated above the tatami floor.

There are several stories about the origin of Tokonoma and its utility.

Originally it is believed that the Tokonoma served as the location for bed time because it was built just big enough for bedding. Then it became the seat of honourable guest of high rank and then at the end of the Kamakura period the platform has become a utility similar to the present. It was at this period that people began to hang a Buddhist image in the alcove and the Tokonoma became the spiritual center of Japanese home.

The use of Tokonoma is as following:

We place a small wooden base in the alcove to display an incense burner "Kouro, a flower vase" Kabin "and a chandelier" Shokudai. These three things are important to Buddhism and are designated as "Mitsugusoku" the three instruments of Buddhism.

Subsequently, towards the Momoyama period Tokonoma has been used primarily for displaying treasures of Japanese art. Also, the size and layout of Tokonoma begin to vary according to the owner of the tatami room.

Also, the Tokonoma is a full part of the "Chashitsu" (tatami room for the tea ceremony). Inside the Tokonoma there will have then Kakejiku, Ikebana flower arrangement, and an incense burner “Kouro”, you will notice that the chandelier" Shokudai "has disappeared from Tokonoma today.

Chashitsu of Nomura Samurai house

What comprises the Tokonoma ?

Initially, the Tokonoma place was assigned to the guest of honor.
After it became the sleeping space. As night fell, people get the futon out of Oshiire and lay them on the surface of Toko.
Today Tokonoma has a strictly to one use and it is to hang and display a Kakejiku, Ikebana (Japanese flower arranging) or Kouro (incense burner) or another of your favorite pieces of Japanese art.

Another important part of Tokonoma is called Toko. Normally, the floor of Tokonoma is somewhat higher than the level of the tatami.
The support base is called the Tokogamachi. The surface of Toko may be covered with tatami, or it can be left in a natural wood finish or it can be painted or stained a dark brown or black lacquered.

Another very important part of Tokonoma is the pillar, it is named Tokobashira. The Tokobashira is normally a tree trunk left in his natural wood finish. Sometimes, the trunk can hold one or two branches and is worked into the structure to be more ornamental.

Last Tokonoma part is the ceiling. Normally, the ceiling of Tokonoma is flush with the ceiling of the room. You have a beam about a foot or more below the ceiling. This beam is called Otoshi-gake.