Spreading the charms of Japan to the world from Fukui




Fukui-born stone “Shakudani Stone”


Life in Fukui

People who were born and live in Fukui Prefecture must have seen the Shakudani stone by your side for granted. The stone is slight pale blue and it changes to dark blue if you run water over it. Previously, I myself have never been taken notice of the stone.
But the other day, while at plumbing work by its contractor in my backyard, an old Shakudani steppingstone appeared in the soil. So I wondered why my predecessor buried the stone, whether they just wanted to dispose it, and I became curious about the stone itself as well suddenly.


Shakudani stones are hardened ashes fell and settled by volcanic blast in ancient times and were taken around Mt. Asuwa mainly in Fukui City, but not any longer. According to records, the stones appeared in history of Fukui already 1,500 years ago, and they were used for stone Buddhist images or art objects as they were tractable.
Especially, the most important use perhaps was castle stones, I suppose.
And, Fukui Castle Ruins’ Shakudani stones still remain as shown in the photos below. (H.S)


※Fukui Castle was built in 1606 by Hideyasu Yuki and it was burned down in 1669.




Pottery Making in Midsummer


Arts and crafts

I visited an Echizen-yaki pottery artist, Kenji Kasatsuji at his studio.

When I visited him, he was in the middle of making a pottery.

He was sweating so much while he kept putting clay on top of another

and blending them with his fingertips.

After that, he repeated the process of tapping the clay with a wooden paddle.

Even though he was not planning to bake the one he was making that day

because it was for a trial one, his careful and diligent work looked as if

he was making an actual product.

I was amazed by his professionalism.


He was forming with coils to make a large trial pottery.

From his face, you can see sweat kept coming out.


This was finished only up to a fourth part and it will get taller.


It went up to around 35 degrees Celsius (95 degrees Fahrenheit) that day,

and the outside of the studio was in the full glare of the sun.




Hotaru / Fireflies / Arigato Project 2016



There are five activities during the Arigato Project (Arigato means thank you in Japanese).

The participants plant rice in May, observe fireflies in June,

harvest the rice in August, study about sake in February

and attend to the ceremony for receiving the completed sake in June.


I attended the obrserving the fireflies in Adoso area in Ono City, Fukui on June 11th, 2016.

There were many fireflies flying beautifully around the rice field with clean and pure water.


According to one of the staff, because of the strong wind on that day,

there were fewer fireflies this year than previous years.


Even the weather was not perfect for the observing the fireflies,

the lights of the fireflies looked as if stars were flying around.

In this area, the rice for “Sake of Arigato (Adoso) 2016” is grown

and I cannot wait to see the sake will be completed and handed to the participants.


It is said that wherever the fireflies live, the environment of the area is clean

because they live in only the area with clean water and air.


I would like to share a video of “Plum 1853”.

*The video shows the fireflies in Maibara, Shiga Prefecture

because I could not take videos of the fireflies clearly in Adoso area in Ono.

Please enjoy!




The 100-Year project for the forest of ebony wood in Yomitan Village, Okinawa

Recently, I had the chance to listen to a talk by Kazufumi Miyazawa, a former member of
THE BOOM well known for the popular song “Shimauta“, and I knew about the project.
He said that its big hit led to more people come to like Okinawan music, on the other hand, the sales of sanshin increased, and ebony wood, material for its neck (it is called kuruchi in Okinawa) had cut with no plan. So now there are few ebony wood in Okinawa.


Therefore, supporters including Miyazawa who agree with the thought that they would like to fill up Okinawa with ebony wood 100 years later, launched the project in 2012.
Ebony wood takes 100 years to grow, and they are aiming to plant and grow the trees
in Yomitan Village first.


Admiring the ebony wood grows little by little every year, they sing and drink there.
Also, they do hope that their grandchildren’s grandchildren will play sanshin
made from the ebony wood grown sometime in the future.
Then they are mowing grass and working hard even in hot weather. (H.S)


(from Facebook page of the project)
The originator Kazufumi Miyazawa(right), and the head of supporters Daiichi Hirata(left),
who has another name “Southern island poet” and has been active in a variety of fields.

Introduction to Contemporary Art


Arts and crafts

「ハーイ、コンニチワ! ヤヨイちゃん」と「ハーイ、コンニチワ! ポチ」

These are sculptures,

“Hi, Konnichiwa (Hello)! Yayoi-chan” and “Hi, Konnichiwa (Hello)! Pochi”.

I visited a contemporary art exhibition of Yayoi Kusama

at Kanazu-Sosaku-no-Mori (Kanaz FOREST of CREATION) in Awara City, Fukui Prefecture. *Photography allowed for these sculptures


It was strange for me to see Kusama's works for the first time even though I’ve always known about her. I enjoyed the contemporary art.



ぐるっと展望!現代アート入門 -高橋コレクション―

This is the leaflet of the exhibition,

“The Introduction to Contemporary Art"