Friday, May 28, 2010
Hands on at Kyoto Handicraft Center
We had spent the day in intense heat, dehydration was abundant after hiking up to Ginkaku-ji, The modern air conditioned building of the Kyoto Handicraft center was a far cry from the classic Japanese architecture and garden of the Silver Pavilion.
The inside resembled a much more western store in appearance, the difference being here there was an abundance of cheesy but fun souvenirs and exquisite crafts that you really could only find in Japan. There were shelves of lacquerware, which are delicate gold patterns and scenes put onto boxes or serving dishes with a rich black laquer surrounding it. One of them had irises rising up the side of the box, blooming on the shining top.
The lacquer was something that was discussed in In Praise of Shadows by Junichiro Tanizaki. The mystery and the shadows is something that is aesthetically very important to Japanese culture. It is really hard to find anything with as rich of darkness, and plays off of the very little light that there is in a room. Even in the lighting of the Kyoto Handicraft center, which isn't the ideal lighting to see these creations, you could still feel how rich and deep the black was. Something I learned about when I was younger was how there are certain blacks that are natural and alive and then there are artificial blacks that are colder and more fake. The lacquer ware was probably the most alive black I had ever seen. It really shows how there can be so much in simplicity and shadows.