Taste of Japan 2018 ‘Takumi’

When: Friday 24th~Sunday 26 August

Where: Auckland Museum, The Auckland Art Gallery & Ellen Melville Centre

Taste of Japan 2018 will focus on ‘Takumi’ (匠). Takumi (匠) is a Japanese word meaning “artisan, great master”. Refined masterpieces are works of art and the Artisan is dedicated to improving what is already a work of art in ordinary eyes as they see and seek further improvement.  This is never ending and the particular choice of art may change as it is developed further.

There are a series of workshops and demonstrations as well as exhibitions and sale of these master pieces in hope of connecting people of NZ and Japan through this refined culture of Japan.

Feature artists

Kei Miyazawa – Wagashi (Japanese Sweet) Master from Takasaki Japan.

Artists/Craftsmen

Daruma (Original)

Daruma’s (or Dharma) Zen roots go back 1500 years to Bodhidharma, the monk credited with establishing Chan Buddhism in China and Zen Buddhism in Japan. Typically made of papier-mâché, traditional Daruma are red, hollow and round, and represent the silhouette of Bodhidharma in deep meditation, sitting in the customary zazen position with his legs folded under his body. Traditional Daruma have ‘crane’ shaped eyebrows with facial hair drawn in the shape of a turtle, symbolizing longevity. They are also ‘blind’, the idea being to paint in the left eye when making a wish, then when it has been granted, to paint in the right eye. The five colors of Daruma represent different forms of aspiration – Generally speaking, the LARGER the doll, the BIGGER the aspiration. Red: Luck and good fortune. Purple: Good health and longevity. Yellow: Security and protection. Gold: Wealth and prosperity. White: Love and harmony.

Hirohisa Imai is the third generation proprietor of Imai Daruma, a long-standing family business with an 80-year history. Having inherited a singular determination to preserve and pass on the Daruma tradition, Imai’s Takasaki City based workshop (Imai Daruma) is at Japan’s center of production. While continuing to create his much loved original Daruma in the traditional way, Imai designed and developed both the innovative Designer’s Daruma and the Japan Aid Representative, ‘JAPAN Daruma’. Daruma are closely associated with ‘nana korobi yaoki’, a Japanese proverb meaning that if you ‘fall down seven times, get up eight’. Representing this persistence, the doll’s rounded shape makes it return to its original position when knocked over, and in so doing remind us to never give up on our aspirations.

Wagashi (Traditional Japanese Sweets)

Much of Japanese art, culture, and cuisine draws on the principles of aesthetic beauty and the passing of the seasons. Traditional Japanese sweets, known as “wagashi”, are also made with these principles in mind. Wagashi originated as small morsels for the Japanese imperial family and nobility to enjoy with a cup of bitter matcha green tea. Over time, the treats evolved into a variety of intricately crafted works of edible art.

They are made in a wide variety of shapes and consistencies and with diverse ingredients and preparation methods. Some are popular across the country and around the year while others are only available regionally or seasonally.

Kei Miyazawa

Boron in 1970.  After graduating from Takasaki City University of Economics, Kei travelled around Japan in search of his direction which involved tasting various Wagashi. After encountering the Wagashi master Masaru Sasaki the owner of Kashou Kyouzan in Chiba prefecture, he decided to seek apprenticeship there.
He likes the Zen story which denotes a form of interpersonal communication through unspoken mutual understanding.  Kai endeavors to create an experience that one mouthful will bring immediate smile to your face.  The name of the shop Misyouan implies, ‘a shop that brings smile to your face’.  He uses carefully selected local strawberries called Yayoihime to make ‘Chigomochi’ which became extremely popular nationwide. This attracted media attention and people will make a long cue outside of his shop.
Kei started conducting community Wagashi workshop since 2006 to share his passion for Wagashi.
He participated in Wagashi demonstration & workshop in New Zealand in 2012 to celebrate 60th diplomatic anniversary of NZ and Japan.