Mizuhiki is a traditional Japanese craft using rice paper, which is tightly binded and wound, starched and then bent into various shapes for use as decoration.
The cord can be painted or entwined with thin strips of silk to color it. Mizuhiki was used to tie the hair of samurai in the Edo Period (1600-1868). Nowadays mizuhiki items in the shape of animals or just about anything (plants, cakes, scrolls, birds, dolls, ships, battledores, family crests, keyrings etc) are given as presents for weddings and births.
Colorful small mizuhiki knots are also attached to envelopes, especially those for giving money at weddings and funerals.
Traditionally mizuhiki was made in artisans' homes over the winter after the rice harvest was gathered in. The area around Iida and Hirugami Onsen in Nagano Prefecture is famous for the art of mizuhiki. Craftspeople may give a demonstration in your ryokan in the evening or visit one of the arts and crafts museums in the area, where you can purchase pieces ranging in size from full suits of samurai armor to tiny mobile phone straps.
Furosato Mizuhiki Kogeikan (Tel: 0265 25 5222) just off National Highway 153 close to the Iida Interchange of the Chuo Expressway is recommended.
Hours: 8.30-5pm daily.
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mizuhiki Hirugami Nagano Japanese crafts
Tuesday, March 02, 2010