Tōhoku Kirigami

I went last weekend to see an exhibit here in Tokyo about a special kind of kirigami (paper-cutting), as practiced in Tōhoku, the northern area of Honshū (the main island of Japan).

 

https://i2.wp.com/www.tamabi.ac.jp/museum/exhibition/img/140712_t.gif

 

There’s a connection to the sacred here that I don’t understand well enough to write about, but these cut paper objects were traditionally (and to some extent still are) displayed in shrines and homes, as dedication to the gods. Although it includes some relatively fine cutting, this is really quite different from katagami stencil cutting, which I believe is more widely known in the west. That kind of hyper-precise and intricately delicate technique is not the point here. I would say that this cutting falls more in the Mingei realm. Mingei Undō is usually rendered in English as the Japanese Folk Art Movement, and espouses the realisation of beauty in everyday, utilitarian objects that have been made by nameless and unknown craftspeople. At the same time, it is not Mingei, strictly speaking.

Along with the exhibit, there was a demonstration of the cutting in the museum (image below). I wasn’t able to get a very good picture, but it looks like the catalogue has some good images; the catalogue is on order, and when it arrives, I’ll post some more images in a new post, linking back to here.

 

photo 2