Posts by Misako Mitsui

  • ZUANCHO PT. 3

    From Zuancho to Graphic Design
    by Misako Mitsui

    From Zuancho to Graphic Design

    The little known origin of graphic design in Japan 

     

    There was not a well-defined line between fine arts, crafts, and design in Japanese culture, let alone the concept of its necessity. Thus, there were no Japanese words for fine arts, craft, and design until the end of the 1800's, when we opened our country to Western civilization...

     

  • ZUANCHO PT 2

    How Zuancho started her Journey
    by Misako Mitsui

    One day when I was visiting my grandmother, I went into our Kura, art and Kimono storage building, and looked around and saw this gray cube covered with dust was sitting in one corner. Because in Kura we only rely on natural light and the windows are very small, and the wall is very thick, I could not see very well. Soon the cube revealed that it is a stack of books. I pulled one and opened it in a waft of dust...

  • ZUANCHO PT. 1

    What is Zuancho
    by Misako Mitsui

    ZUANCHO is the Japanese name for design books that were used in Kyoto’s textile industry around 1890 to 1940. The word zu-an-cho consists of three Japanese kanji characters:

     

    ZU ( design or drawing) + AN (idea)+ CHO = Book of Design Ideas.

     

    Kimono dealers, their clients, and the craftsmen who dyed, wove, embroidered the textile, and sewed the garments used zuancho to communicate with each other when they made a custom-made kimono.

  • by Misako Mitsui
    A TALE OF TWO PLATES

    What story lies behind the difference between these two plates?

     

    Well, it may come as no surprise that the two plates were produced in different countries. One belongs to a large set of __x__ plates made in England in the late 1800’s; the other is a replicated piece from Japan in the 1930’s. The fine porcelain traveled all the way to Japan where they were used many times over atextravagant banquets or to enjoy Yoshoku (Japanese-style Western Cuisine) at a family gathering. Throughout the course of the plates’ lives many were broken. To replace the lost pieces of the set, the owners had a Japanese artisan duplicate the plates. Can you tell which one is which? Look through the pictures and find out here.

  • LANTERNS

    STONES
    by Misako Mitsui
    LANTERNS

    In October of 2019, Mitsui Fine Arts presented excellent stones at an exhibition with Hosfelt Gallery. This writing will discuss the tradition of stone lanterns among the exhibited pieces. 

     

     

  • GARDENS

    STONES
    by Misako Mitsui
    GARDENS

    A year or so ago, I encountered an essay on the Japanese garden by Saisei Muro (1889 – 1962), an excellent Japanese poet. 

    Muro wrote as follows:

     

    Pictured Above: Garden steps in Kyoto, Japan

  • BASIN

    STONES
    by Misako Mitsui
    BASIN

    The exact history of basins in Japan is not clear. The oldest dated basin exists in the Joruri-ji temple in Kyoto, with an engraving from 1269. However, the tradition of cleaning one’s hands in a basin before entering a temple has existed for much longer.  (basin photos by David Stroud)

     

     

  • by Misako Mitsui
    BUNDLE OF JOY

    Some objects contain a charisma that is undeniable, despite their function or lack thereof. This bundle of the discarded ends of tatami mats, from the mid to late Edo period, is full of it.

  • by Misako Mitsui
    SELECTIVE HARMONY

    Toriawase is a centuries-old way of enjoying art works rooted in the culture of the Way of Tea – Tea Ceremony. The literal meaning of the word is: “pick up a few things and put them together.”

  • by Misako Mitsui
    AN ANCIENT CONCEPT THAT YOU ALREADY KNOW

    Until a few decades ago my family had been in the Kimono business in Kyoto for nearly two and a half centuries. The Way of Tea – Tea Ceremony culture had been a significant part of our life. When I was little, we hosted a tea event- Tea Ceremony once or twice a month. The preparations started with the careful selection of the theme, tea utensils, scroll, vase, flowers, menu, plates and bowls, etc.  All aspects were discussed during several separate meetings with our tea master, Master Yabunouchi, our flower master, Master Nishikawa, and our chef, Chef Tsujitome, and my father and grandfather.

  • by Misako Mitsui
    Toriawase - Marc D'Estout
    Toriawase - Marc D'Estout

    People often ask me, “How do I select art? How do I build a good, unique collection? How do I even know which piece is better than others?”