August 2018

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A message from the President:

It’s already August; peak school summer vacation time in Japan, some of you may be able to meet Japanese tourists, and possibly receive a gift with a traditional Japanese art cord wrapped with that gift. 
 
What is a traditional Japanese art cord?  It's called Mizuhiki, a specially designed cord derived from Washi (a traditional Japanese paper).  Washi is made from the inner bark of the kozo, gampi, and mitsumata bushes.  The fibers of the inner bark of these bushes are much longer than in barks from other tree and bushes allowing it to mesh together easily. Washi is one of the most durable and strongest papers in the world. 

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In Japan, there has long been a custom of showing thanks or respect by wrapping gifts in paper, attaching a noshi (a type of white paper representing a dried abalone), and tying it with a colored paper cord, Mizuhiki.
 
Mizuhiki is often tied into a knot around gifts; with each knot having a particular meaning and each of these knots is tailored for a specific event such as a wedding ceremony or birth.  The word “Mizuhiki” (literally “Water-pull”) is said to come from soaking materials such as hemp in water and then pulling off layers to make cords.  In the Edo period (1603 – 1868), samurai and other townspeople used Mizuhiki for tying their hair in a topknot. 
 
A more modern use for Mizuhiki is using it to create jewelry and accessories, and it can be used to elaborately decorate a woman’s hair for special ceremonies, such as her wedding.  In more recent times, Mizuhiki has been adopted by artists who creatively use it to create original 3-dimensional works of art.
 
Have a wonderful month,
 
Chie Schiller
Board Chair / Executive President