Ginsuzu Exposition 09

Ginsuzu Gallery in Kamakura invitation S.Ligtenberg_1
My Ceramics Exhibition featuring Horsehair and “Kamakura Red” Art at the Ginsuzu Gallery from November 12 – 17, 2009, in Kamakura, Japan.
The opening hours are from 10:00 – 17:00. The reception is on November 15 from 15:00 – 17:00.

I hope you can come to see my show in this beautiful new gallery and historical city!

Directions to Ginzusu Gallery

Ginsuzu Gallery in Kamakura invitation.Directions.S.Ligtenberg_1
Directions to my exhibition at the Ginsuzu Gallery in Kamakura, Japan.
From the station you go direction Hachimangu Shrine. Before entering the Hachimangu grounds you make a right at the Hakkodo Kamakura Bori Store.
Then turn left at the next crossing and follow the road and curve in the road. The Ginsuzu Gallery is on the left side next to a flower shop.

Hope to see you there!

Dragon boat races in Enoshima

two dragonboats_1
On Sunday, yesterday, we bicyled to Enoshima, which is a small island near Kamakura and famous for her goddess of Music and Entertainment, Benzaiten, who is enshrined on the island and who is said to have made it rise from the bottom of the sea in the sixth century.
It was a beautiful day: warm and sunny, not too hot, a nice breeze. Lots of people were out, walking, bicycling and sitting on the beaches along the coast or surfing, windsurfing or sailing: just a lot of activity going on and people enjoying one of the last nice weekends before really autumn starts.


There were dragon boat races being held in the out flowing river into the sea. The racers were young and old, women and men and just lots of fun to see. Also, the front man gave the rhythm by hitting a gong. Really appropriate. Watch the YOU TUBE movie!

Dragonboat close
Then we had some delicious pizza in an Italian restaurant. Pizza in Japan! But it had this really thin crust and baked in a wood kiln and we had the one with some anjovis, the Napolitana. It was really good! “Oishikatta desu” in Japanese!

This gave us energy for the ride back with the wind in our backs. What a wonderful day!

Tomoko-san exposition

Brocken Gallery_1
Yesterday, we went to an exposition from Yamato Tomoko, a friend of mine who lives in Mashiko. Now, she had a show in Tokyo in the Brocken Gallery, so we were able to go. It is a very modern gallery from concrete, nice and clean in a normal neighborhood with all houses.SHow_1

Tomoko-san high fires her work in a gas kiln.

Mishima Vase_1

Vase with Mishima, stamp and slip, technique.


Some figurine statues.Tomoko-san.Swanica_1

Nanako sings_1
And her daughter Nanako-san gave a performance with gitar playing and singing.

Watch the YOU TUBE movie!

Festival at the Komyoji Temple

1a) Monks walking_1
Last week, there was a festival “Matsuri” at our neighborhood temple (YOU TUBE video), the Komyoji. Every year they have an event at the temple called Ojuya, which means a Buddhist memorial service for the repose of the dead for 3 days. The temple belongs to the Jodo Buddhist sect and exist from 1243AD.

6b)2nd sanmon from 1st mon_1

It is very festive. The temple grounds are filled with all kinds of stands4d) Healthy snack stall_1
from food stalls, like the stall with health food snack of octopus and squid!,

4f) Cathing goldfish stall_1

to games for little children catching goldfish with a flat sieve,

4b) Wicker stall_1

and stalls of wicker household ware.

1b) Monks praying_1
3a) Offerings altar_1
Then there are the memorial services in the temple (to the left a picture of praying monks and to the right a special altar with offerings) and performances: a dance performance by children (YOU TUBE movie) and a orchestral performance by monks (YOU TUBE movie).

6d) Frontview towards sea from sanmon_1
You can visit the entrance gate “Sanmon” and climb to (YOU TUBE movie) the second level where you have a wonderful view over the temple grounds and part of the city and the sea. Inside on the second floor wooden statues are preserved behind glass. You still can see the colors of the paint.Protection God_1
The faces and composure of the body of the praying monks

(YOU TUBE movie) are full of expression.

And the gods standing next to them are protecting them.

Kamakura Bori: some more history

In this blog I will give a quick overview of the development of Kamakura Bori in the different periods of Japan history.

Maezukue table in Kenchoji_1
The origin of Kamakura Bori starts in the Kamakura Period (1185-1333) when the Shogun Minamoto Yoritomo establishe his military government in Kamakura on 1192. Many fine articles were imported from the culture of the China Song Dynasty, including “Urushi” lacquerware. Zen Buddhism flourished and with the building of the temples altar fittings and all other religious paraphernalia were needed. Artisans in Kamakura, in trying to imitate the Chinese “Tsuichi” lacquerware (first lacquer and then carving), developed a similar but unique technique called Kamakurai Bori (first carving and then lacquer). The picture shows a table “Maezukue” from the Kenchoji in Kamakura.

Inkstone case.Kam.Mus.of.Nat.Treasure_2
In the Muromachi Period (1338-1573) many more artistic masterpieces were created, like large incense containers and ink stone cases (see the left picture with a design of the Shishi dancing animal from the Kamakura Treasure Museum). The words “Kamakura mono” (things made in Kamakura), appeared for the first time in a diary. which perhaps for the first time described this beautiful art form.

Tobacco tray Kamakura Kokuho-kan_1
During the Edo Period (1603-1867), the tea ceremony reached its highest point in popularity among the Japanese aristocracy and along with that, the need for all the utensils. Kamakura Bori was highly valued. The picture shows a tobacco tray from the Kamakura Treasure Museum.

Kamakura Rengemon plate.72_2
During the Meiji Period (1868-1911) and Taisho Period (1912-1926) the government promoted Shinto beliefs, a religion devoted to nature worship; a new found liberalism. Many Buddhist icons and temples were destroyed and many traditional craftsmen lost their jobs. But as told in the blog of the historical Gotoh family, they were able to adapt their ancient craft to the production of more practical, daily use and decorative items and their addition of a new big change as the “Hikuchi nuri” process to the Kamakuri Bori art. (See also the blog of the interview of the Gotoh family).

9) Peony Flower_1

In the Shouwa Period (1926-1989) and until now people have shown appreciation for things traditional, practical and beautiful, and in an era of mass produced items, Kamakura Bori stands out as a functional and esthetically pleasing alternative to the generic products of today.

In 1961, the Kamakura Masters Committee was established and at present consists of twenty-one groups and some 6000 members. In 1979, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry designated the City of Kamakura as a traditional Handicraft Industrial Zone.

Kamakura Bori: the studio of the Gotoh Family

Entrance of workshop Hakkodo_1Yesterday, we visited the studio of the Gotoh family. Normally, they don’t allow visitors to enter the studio, but we were very lucky and this was a big favor.
The studio is behind the store and is like an old Japanese big house, all from wood with elevated floors for the air to pass underneath.

A Shishi Mai (Chinese Lion) animal mask hang in the entrance. It was carved from wood and the paint was quite fainted, but they use this mask during New Years to wish everybody a Happy New Year. Or here to wish you a good day or happy life! Unfortunately, but also understandable, this was the only picture I was allowed to take.

First, we entered a work area where three artists were carving pieces, like a very big frame with straight lines, sort of Art Deco style, and a plate with a flower design. They were sitting in front of the windows to make use of the day light.

In the next room, some artists were putting on the first “Urushi” layer of lacquer. One person put lacquer on some beautifully carved big buttons. I also saw some big boxes with wonderfully carved flower designs.

Then we were able to look into some rooms through windows and saw that one artist was putting on a black layer of lacquer on a carved tray. Another person was putting on the final vermillion layer: the Kamakura Red! They derived the red pigment from lava rocks. We also saw some green lacquered carved stools, which were made by a student.

Just to think of the many hours of man work put into creating one piece. Unbelievable!

Part of altar.Kenchoji.Kamakura Period.Chinese Song_2

To the left is the picture of the Shishi mai (dancing) animal carved into a part of an altar at the Kenchoji in Kamakura during origin Kamakura period of Kamakura Bori. The animal is an imaginative animal (lion) and comes from China.

Shishi Lion_72

This is a Shishi adorned at one of the gate entrances of the Engakuji, one of the important Zen Buddhist temples of Japan in North Kamakura.


Kamakura Bori: Interview with the historical Gotoh Family

Gotoh Keiko-San_1
Last week, I had an interview with the head of the Gotoh family, Gotoh Keiko. This family is one of the two families left who have been sculpting Buddhist images since the Kamakura Period and is heir to the craftsmanship handed down from father to son for 28 generations. But now for the first time, the 29th generation is headed and succeeded by Gotoh Keiko, the oldest daughter of Gotoh Shuntaro, the 28th master in descent of the family. In 1976 Gotoh Keiko Graduated at the Tokyo National University of Fine Art & Music, the Technical Art Department. She is the Chief Designer of Hakkodo. She has three sisters, from which the 3rd oldest also is a Kamakura Bori artist carver and her 2nd oldest sister is a textile artist.

At this interview I was assisted by Sally Tamura, who I met at the Kamakura Bori Museum where we had taken our Experimental Kamakura Bori Course and she organized this appointment with Gotoh Keiko-san. Sally Tamura studied Buddhist art religion at a university. She translated where ever necessary.

Front Hakkodo Store_1
We had our meeting in the store of the family: “Hakkodo”, which means “studying old objects in history”. During the Meiji Era, which began in the latter part of the 19th century, the production of Buddhist sculpture decreHakkodo sign_1ased. Gotoh Itsuki, the 26th master head of the family and Gotoh Unkyu, the 27th, and their fellow craftsmen developed the art form as a means of creating handicrafts and works of industrial art that are familiar to this day. In 1900 Gotoh Unkyu opened a shop and studio named “Hakkodo” in front of the Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine in Kamakura.

9)Phoenix  Bird_1
First, we went upstairs where there is an exhibition of Kamakura Bori works by Gotoh Itsuki and Unkyu. They each have their own style and they create their own designs. Gotoh Itsuki’s work is beautiful and the Kamakura Bori color has almost a little ofSmall statues from Edo Period_1 an orange shine (see the picture to the left of the “Phoenix Bird”). Gotoh Unkyu, the 27th master, developed “a deep cut” in his work specific to him. It also showed some small wooden statues. The ones in the picture are carved by Kamakura Bori artists in the Edo Period (1603-1867). Then there were some books showing some of the templates they would use as drawings, copy it on the wood and 26+27 Era_1then carve it out. Also, some cabinets showed Kamakura Red Bori. The left side shows work from artists working under the 26th master Itsuki and the right side shows work from Bori artists under Unkyu, the 27th head of the Gotoh family.

Praying monks_1
Then we sat down for some talk about the history and technique.
The beginning of Kamakura Bori Art started from Zen Buddhism with the sculpting and lacquering of Buddhist images, furniture and lacquered incense cases modeled after those brought from China in the Song Dynasty style for the newly build temples. Gotoh Keiko was not really sure if her fore-fathers had been monks themselves, but they may have had some high rank of monk. In the picture are real life wooden statues from praying monks preserved behind glass in the art gallery in the “Sanmon”, main gate of the Komyoji Temple.

Arabesque style incense case_1
During the next centuries the techniques and styles stayed the same. The Buddhist statues are incredibly finely carved, especially the folds of the cIncense Case Peony design Muromachi era. Kama.Kokuho-kan_1lothing are just like real and all the lines are so straight. Every piece was related to religion. Incense boxes repeat certain designs of flowers like the Peony(see to the right the picture of an Incense case from the Muromachi era of the Kamakura Kokuho-kan) or the “Guri” designs, a kind of deeply carved arabesque, suggesting a flow of water (see to the left the picture of the Incense case GURI from the Kamakura Bori Material Museum).

An anti-Buddhist movement started in the beginning of the Meiji Period in 1868 and this gave rise to the destruction of Buddhist temples all over the country. This is where they had to reinvent themselves and started making functional ware for all day life like trays, teacup holders, reading desks and mirror stands.

The biggest change in the technique was a different layer of lacquer style, called the “Hikuchi nuri” process, 3e) Lacquering4_1created by the masters Itsuki and Unkyu . In order to temper the shade of lacquerware and deepen the red color, Makomo (water oats powder obtained from a special plant) is applied (“nuri”) on the entire surface while the final layer of lacquering is half-dry (“hikuchi”). The red color also still deepens in time. They get the red pigment from lava rocks, because Japan is a volcanic island. Japan doesn’t have many minerals to make colors from. They imported them mainly from China. But they had this red from the Lava rocks.

So, because of this beautiful red pigment, the wonderful historical background and because I live here, I call my red glaze “KAMAKURA RED”!

In the future, Gotoh Keiko-san will see change in color for a deeper color research. Also, they may have to find other trees than the Katsura trees and the “urushi” sap, which is also used by other people as lacquer, may run out and needs to be replaced by another resource.
Gotoh Keiko-San holding plate_1
Autumn Plate with silver power layer by Keiko-san_1
She showed us a beautiful ” Wave” plate from Kamakura near the sea, designed by her.

Then she showed a big plate she designed of grasses appropriate
for this time of year. It has a silver layer of lacquer in between.
That is why it looks so silvery!

Typhoon in Kamakura


Last night and this morning we experienced a typhoon! Our little house was shaking from the terribly strong gusts of wind and the rain mixed with sand from the beach was slashing against our windows. We had closed our shutters which are made from iron which increased the sound of the rain hitting the shutters.

But hearing the rain falling on the roof top is a soothing sound and we slept well.

This picture in taken in the morning when actually the very strong gusts of wind started.

Watch the YOU TUBE Movie from the typhoon! Beautiful high waves!

Then the weather started to clear up and the sun came out. I went outside, but there was still too much sand in the wind, which was hitting my face. I had to put a hand before my eyes. And the police was standing on the road near the beach to prevent people to go on the beach. It was still too dangerous and the water very close to the wall of the street. So, I went inside again.


Around 4 o’clock we were able to go outside. The wind had weakened and we could walk on the beach.


There was lots of debris and trash on the beach like big pieces of wood, trees and branches, bottles and crates etc.


This is the passage way under the road we go through to go to the beach. The waves had come all the way and had deposited a big concrete block and even a bathtub. I normally can walk straight through the tunnel, but now I had to duck. It was completely filled with dirt, trash and sand.

Also, a little farther on the road the waves had deposited a lot of sand on the road and the fence was completely broken.

What a force nature can be!

Watch the YOU TUBE Sunset movie!

Wonderful Art Salon, Suigeikan, in Kamakura

We met a wonderful man in the beginning of our stay here in Kamakaru. He was a writer and we had several nice encounters with him, his wife and some friends. He died of cancer in just six months and his wife had organized a Farewell Party for him yesterday.
He often frequented this special place where the event was held.


The artist is Ishimura-san. He held exhibitions in Tokyo, but decided to make from his house a gallery and he arranged his works in and around his house in his own special way!

There is one big room and his art fills the walls to the ceilings completely. The paintings are separated from each other by his special sculptured frames.


Some Fish/Human statue.


His coat rack of vulture heads and the woman’s portret is completely made from leather.


And some nice chairs to sit on!

Hope you enjoyed this colorful blog!