Thursday, January 20, 2011

The "Thrice" Sedge Hat

Sando means "three times," "thrice". So why is this mushroom-shaped hat called the sando kasa?  In the Edo Era (1603-1868), Osaka merchants established a courier service connecting Edo, Kyoto, and Osaka. Letters and parcels were sent three times a month, on the 2nd, 12th, and 22nd, and were delivered by "postmen" wearing hats like the one above. In this way the hat came to be known as the "thrice sedge hat".  The sando kasa became widely adopted for the protection it offered against rain and sun, shielding the heads of travelers and farm laborers as well as the postmens' pates.       

Monday, January 10, 2011

A Service Announcement

Most online shops retailing Japanese products sell items of inferior quality, if made in Japan at all.  Japanese lacquer-coated chopsticks for only $2.95 a pair?  Buy several, because you'll find the lacquer gone after only a few meals.  Premium  green tea for just $9.95.  That's a half-brewed idea; the truly good stuff goes for a bit more.

If you can tell me approximately what you want and, more importantly, how much you want to spend, I can find the item for you.  The product you desire at the quality you deserve.  Guaranteed.    

Drop me a line at

Brian S.

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

A "Sumiyoshi" Shrine

Osaka City's Sumiyoshi Taisha shrine complex contains a nice example of the sumiyoshi style.  Note the crossed beams (chigi) at the ends of the roof and those perpendicular to the ridge, called katsuoki,  the latter deriving their name from the Japanese word katsuo, meaning "bonito".  

A "Nagare-tsukuri" Shrine

Most of the shrines in Japan are built in the "Nagare-tsukuri" style.  The distinctive feature of such shrines is the uneven length of the two roof sections, the front being somewhat longer than the rear.

Minehonsha, situated atop Mt. Oyama (3003 m) in Toyama Prefecture, is an example of the nagare style. 

A "Hie-zukuri" Shrine

Check out the curves of the Niigata Great Shrine, located across the street from my house in downtown Niigata City.  The shrine is a fine example of the "Hie" style of Shinto architecture.