Japan Australia Pages

Friday, August 1, 2014

Book Review: Things Japanese (Everyday Objects of Exceptional Beauty and Significance)

Things Japanese: Everyday Objects of Exceptional Beauty and Significance published by Tuttle Publishing is a wonderful guide and introduction to the unique objects that make up traditional Japanese culture. This is a must have book for any fan of Japanese culture and art. As most of you know, I love Japan and especially its history, culture and traditions. I guess, I’m lucky to be surrounded by these things on a daily basis. I probably take a lot of them for granted now that I’ve been in Japan so long, but this book really makes me appreciation them again and fully understand their cultural significance.


The book through its amazing photos and illustrations shares some of this culture and beauty of Japan with you. It is filled with more than two hundred colour photos and illustrations. Author Nicholas Bornoff and Photographer Michael Freeman examine over 60 traditional Japanese objects displaying their relevance and significance and will fascinate those who are intrigued by the art, culture and history of Japan. The traditional objects range from beautifully crafted samurai swords to elegant wooden tansu chests.

The cover of Things Japanese

Fantastic images and detailed information are a highlight of this book

A lot of the objects in the book are highly recognizable, some I see on a daily basis, others are more for historical value rather than daily use. Like most things Japanese they are exquisitely crafted with beauty in their diligent attention to detail and artistry. The book is beautifully presented and shows and describes each object in meticulous detail. Each item is illustrated in glorious full-colour photographs with detailed information, history and cultural context about the object.

At 143 pages long, the book is the right size to leave on my coffee table to take a peek when needed. I love my photography and a hobby of mine is shooting some of the wonderful traditional Japanese objects that I find around me. Whether its a byobu (painted screen) at a house, or ishidoro (stone lantern) at a temple, this book is a great accompaniment to better understand the cultural significance of the objects that I shoot. This book will certainly be picked up by me on a regular basis as I research these objects to find out more about them. I hope it becomes a part of your collection, too.

Things Japanese is the perfect book for anyone interested in the art, culture and history of Japan.
You can check out the book yourself on Amazon.com




*** Competition Time ***


Would you like to win a FREE Copy of Things Japanese: Everyday Objects of Exceptional Beauty and Significance?

Tuttle Publishing the company behind Things Japanese would like to offer one of our lucky readers a complimentary copy of this book. For a chance to win, please leave a comment below on the following topic, “What is your favourite traditional Japanese object? And why do you like it?

We will select a winner at random and announce the result after the closing date. 

Entries close on Friday, 8 August 2014

Note: Please do not comment as Anonymous use a profile such as Google or WordPress, etc, so we can contact you if you are the lucky winner. We we also announce the winner in a future blog post, so stay tuned to Japan Australia.

Good luck and I look forward to reading your entries

*** Competition Has Just Ended ***


Thank you everyone for entering and stay tuned as the winner will be announced on Sunday, 10 August 2014.

Things Japanese
Things Japanese by Nicholas Bornoff & Photographer Michael Freeman

46 comments:

  1. My favourite Japanese item has to be the tea bowl as they are all so beautiful and unique.

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    1. Thanks Emily for the comment! I also love the Japanese tea bowl and especially imari-yaki (伊万里焼) which is Japanese porcelain made n the town of Arita in Kyushu. I also really like bizen-yaki (備前焼) which is Japanese pottery made in Bizen province in Okayama Prefecture.

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  2. Excuse my English, is a product of Google translator, I hope you understand me.
    My favorite are the towels everyday object Tenugui 手拭い, buy two on my trip to Japan and then a friend gave me there a few more. I use them as a scarf for hair, to dry very hot days, I always have one in my purse, etc ... The towels are nice and funny drawings, there is one, which has drawings of how to prepare the way rice paper the traditional way.
    Then there are another group of objects, more special, you are very dear to me, such as scissors, kenzams, porcelain containers, etc ... for Ikebana, I am a student for twelve years in a branch of Ikenobo in Barcelona.
    I'd love to have that book, as a great lover and follower of Japanese culture.

    Thank you.どうもありがとうございました。

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    1. Thank you Ana Maria Lopez Sadako for your comment! Great choice! Tenugui (手拭い) which is a Japanese hand towel made of cotton is very useful. They can be used as a hand towel, washcloth, headband, or or decoration. Very practical :)

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  3. The rin gong - it's kind of like an inverted bell, sometimes called a "singing bowl". They're used in Buddhist services and the like. I love them because they just make the purest and most resonant sound I've ever heard.

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    1. Thank you Belthazar for the comment! Nice one! Yes, they make a great sound. Our family has a small one at the altar in the family house. We use it for praying and meditation. I've seen big ones as well at various temples around Japan.

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  4. I'm leaving a comment to say hallo, not to win the book. You know how many books I've got! :D

    My favourite? Edo wind chimes! :)

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    1. Hi Ru, thanks for stopping by! You can say "Hello" and enter the competition. You can never have too many Japanese books and I'm sure you would love this one. Edo wind chimes look amazing. I love your recent post on them as well :)

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  5. My favourite Japanese objects are small sake cups – ochoko and sakuzuki. They are indeed little stories about culture and daily life of Japan – functional, not only collectible (versus netsuke), telling stories about anniversaries, beliefs, myths, about people (weddings, wars and battles), about organisations, even about events not happening – e.g. planed Olympic games in Tokyo 1940. Traditional and modern together, object of art and functional thing – beautiful and interesting. You can learn about Japan from sake cups!

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    1. Thank you for the comment Armands Vijups! I also love Japanese sake cups (ochoko) and have a small collection of them from various places I've visited in Japan as well as different sake breweries I've been to. I also really like the wooden box called "masu" in Japanese. I use it for special occasions.

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  6. Japanese boxwood comb:) such nice craftmanship

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    1. Thanks for the comment Pinkkitten74! That's a nice one! I believe Japanese Traditional Boxwood Combs were used by Samurai, Geisha and Sumo Wrestlers. The craftsmanship is exquisite and they make a great souvenir or gift :)

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  7. I have many Japanese items I like. At the moment, my favorite is uchiwa, because I wouldn't survive the hot summer without it (^_~)

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    1. Thank you Yoko-chan K for the comment! That's a great suggestion as well, especially now with the hot summer upon us. I use uchiwa a lot especially when I'm out and about at the summer festivals or fireworks. I also have a nice sensu ( folding fan) as well :)

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  8. I have many favourites, maybe japanese footwear, geta and zori. I find them practical and beautiful, when you see one pair of these shoes you think inmediately, Japan! :)

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    1. Thank you for commenting B! Yes, that is a good one! Geta or Zori sure do represent Japan. I have a nice pair of zori that I enjoy wearing in the summer, especially with my jimbei :)

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  9. Well, it is very difficult to name only one object, but I think it shall be the chasen, since this is the unique tool that you need to make a nice frothy bowl of matcha. Oishii! :)

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    1. Thank you Mariann for the comment! Nice one! I love my matcha and the chasen (茶筅) is a necessary item to make matcha for the Japanese tea ceremony.

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  10. My favourite Japanese object... hard to pick, but either yukata (I had the chance to try one on, it was super comfy) or bento boxes^^

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    1. Thanks for the comment Akanesarumara! A summer yukata is a good choice. I love seeing them at the summer festivals and fireworks in Japan. I have a jimbei which is really comfortable to wear around the house and out to a festival as well.

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  11. My favorite thing has to be between the Kimono and Ogi (Fan). They are always done so beautifully. The artwork is exquisite and have so much significance and history behind them.

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    1. Thanks for the comment Lewna Tsuki! Japanese kimono are amazing and I love the colours and detail in each one. I had the chance to wear a Hakama (袴) during our wedding in Japan and it was a great experience.

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  12. I am still learning a lot about Japan ( the culture is so old, and there are so many wonderful traditions, and I've barely begun), but I am in love with "etegami," postcard art-messages painted by hand with sumi ink and gansai watercolors on special washi cards. They are mailed to family and friends as greeting cards, especially at New Year, during seasonal festivals, and to announce births and deaths, but they can be sent any day of the year as a "hello, thinking-of- you, isn't nature lovely" greeting full of affection and often employing word puns and/or inspiring and uplifting quotes. They are stamped with the maker's hanko and might also include a seasonal stamp. At New Year, so many cards need to be delivered that college students are employed to help the postal service( I hope I got that right). I have an "Etegami sensei" ( I call her that ) who lives in Japan and now I exchange etegami with lovely people in Japan and worldwide, as pen pals who all enjoy Japanese culture, art, beauty, and nature.

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    1. Thank you Mary Keesling for the comment! Me, too! There is so much to learn about Japanese culture and traditions. I've been here for over 10 years and I still learn new things about the culture all the time. Etagami sound amazing! I'd love to start getting into it as I love tradition things like that and it sounds like it would be fun.

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  13. It's a real joy to read all the comments and your replies!
    In my humble opinion, every thing in Japanese culture is interesting and unique. It's different, has it's own story and carries memory of ancient times as well as modern inspiration, good taste and really different point of view on beauty and design. I like not only objects, but the way Japanese people make and treat the objects they create or use. I do like the architecture objects (buildings and interiors) as well.
    OK, to be honest, I like kokeshi (こけし) very much - dento-kokeshi as well as shingata-kokeshi (like I already said - traditional and modern Japanese art both inspire me a lot). And this could be a great present to those whom you like and love :)

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    1. Thanks for the comment Stasia! I'm glad you enjoyed reading all the comments and my replies. Kokeshi (こけし) dolls are great and make a fantastic souvenir from Japan.

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  14. Muzukashii!!
    A toss-up between my tetsubin, or my antique Ukiyo-E.
    Both are memories of my favourite places on earth, and both play a vital part in lazy mornings for me.

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    1. Hi Lola, Thanks for the comment! Tetsubin (鉄瓶) Japanese cast iron pots are really cool. I love Ukiyo-e (浮世絵) woodblock prints, and they make great souvenirs from Japan as well. What print do you have and where is your favourite place?

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    2. I bought my Ukiy-e in a gallery in Gion. I don't know the artist, but the level of detail and the fragility of this very old girl just entrance me.
      I adore Kyoto, particularly the old neighbourhoods... I could spend forever watching artisans working in Higashiyama. I just love traditional ways of doing things.

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    3. Yeah, Kyoto is such an amazing place and I love traveling there. I also really like the Higashiyama district, you can find so many great things there and it is an awesome spot to pick up a souvenir or two. Thanks for sharing with us :)

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  15. Hulloes! My mesmerising favourite has always been 漆器 (lacquer ware) I've seen so many programs of how the lacquer is tapped out of trees extensively by the Japanese people - both young and old. I would love to dedicate a cabinet to all my lacquered knick knacks. I urge everyone to buy a lacquered miso soup bowl to keep the tradition alive :) or failing that - feel up a well lacquered pagoda!

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    1. Hi Sarah, thanks for the comment! Japanese lacquer-ware (漆器) is amazing and make great ornaments for the house. I recommend a visit to Narai in the Kiso Valley in Nagano Prefecture. Here local artisans make lacquer-ware using the traditional methods that they have done for over 300 years.

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  16. Kimono - they are wearable works of art. Beautiful to wear and gorgeous as display objects.
    They have astounding, unsurpassed Japanese textile art on beautifully woven silks. Fabulous to wear and absolutely exquisite as display objects; adult ones if you have a fairly big space for display, gloriously beautiful children's ones if you have a smaller area or haori kimono if you only have a little space... all are stunning and a delight to the eye.

    Ceri

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    1. Hi Ceri. Thanks for the comment! Kimono (着物) are a beautiful work of art and never go out of fashion. I really enjoyed wearing a Hakama (袴) during my wedding in Japan and it was a great experience. I wish I had one in the house as a display :)

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  17. What is my favourite traditional Japanese object?
    Do buckwheat pillows count?

    I really love the feel of them and I do sleep well with them. ^^

    I love rolling around in futon too. Hahaha

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    1. Hi Lina, Yeah, I think we can count Japanese Buckwheat Pillows. I've slept on a few in my time in Japan. They do go well with a tatami floor and futon :) Thanks for the comment!

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  18. It is difficult to choose just one item, all Japanese items are beautifully crafted and elegant. I love Japanese art and especially calligraphy for its simple and pure lines. And because I love dolls, old ones, old japanese dolls are among my favourites.

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    1. Thanks for the comment Amalia! There are so many great Japanese objects that it is nearly impossible to choose just one. Traditional Japanese dolls (人形) are really cool and we love seeing the family's Hina Ningyo in March for Hina Matsuri (Dolls Festival). I have always wanted to learn calligraphy as well and have tried it a few times here in Japan.

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    2. Hi! My dream is to visit Japan. I hope I can do it. So March will be a good time for me. I can be in the Dolls Festival and maybe I can find a nice doll for me.

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    3. I hope your dream can come true Amalia, March is a great time to be in Japan with Hina Matsuri and the start of warmer weather after winter.

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  19. My favourite traditional object is the netsuke. I love that within my hand I can hold a tiny world and that within one small object can be found exceptional craftsmanship, history, and an endless variety of themes and motifs.

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    1. Hi Buzz, Thanks for the comment! Netsuke (根付) are very cool and would be a fun thing to collect.

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  20. Hi. So many great things to choose, I'm going to go with randoseru. Have always seen them in anime and during our Japan trip we seen them on the backs of many school children. I thought it was super cute to see groups of children with matching caps and backpacks. I love that it's a long standing tradition.

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    1. Thanks for the comment Elisha, Randoseru (ランドセル) are very practical and functional. There are different designs and colours these days, so each one is not exactly the same. Some of the stitching is different colours as well. Typically boys will have a black one and girls a red one, but this is changing in modern Japan. Our son has a black one with blue stitching, which was bought by his grandparents upon starting Elementary School.

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  21. Just found your blog today and am really enjoying it; learned about this book through it and have just ordered it from Amazon. Looks great -- thanks for the tip!

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    1. Thank you! It is a great book and I'm sure you will enjoy it :)

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