Sunday, December 21, 2008

The Japanese Art of Bonsai

The jananese art of Bonsai it's an occupation that lies on the edge between arts and gardening. What does really mean the growth of bonsai? In just a few words it is an ancient japanese pursuit of cultivating small plants and trees inside a vase. The meaning of Bonsai in japanese is more than suggestive, representing the fusion of two ancient japanese words: bon( tree) and sai (vase) .

The most fascinating thing about a bonsai tree is the fact that, opposite to what one might think, it isn't genetically modified so it remains small, but it is a perfectly normal tree, its miniature like size being the consequence of the small space into which it was grown and of the systematic cuttings. This extaordinary fact can be observed best when the bonsai tree flourishes, its flowers being much like those of regular trees , on both aspects of form and size.

The japanese art of Bonsai appeared in the XII century, as an evolution of an ancient chinese technology. It spread quickly in all of Japan, after a few centuries becaming already a tradition. Being in the past centuries the attribute of monks, scholars and aristocrats, the art of bonsai evolved, starting with the XIX century, becaming a way of living for the vast majority of the japanese, the nowdays popularity of this art rising at such a level that it is said that there is no japanese family not to have a bonsai tree inside their home. Truly this sophisticated pursuit, which perfectly combines both artistical and hoticultural aspects, matches entirely the minutely and sensible japanese soul.

Due to its peculiar charm, its spreading sensibility, a bonsai tree makes the perfect present for our loved ones. And what can be more suitable to write on the greetings card than this old japanese saying: A bonsai is never done.

Ikebana, Japanese Decorative Art

The term of Ikebana describes the technique of arranging in artistic manner various flowers into a vase. It is a occupation which truly represents the inner sensibility and the remarkable love for beauty of the japanese nation. An art teeming with symbols, who's main goal is to recreate Nature's universal perfection into the artificial environment of the modern world.

Ikebana generated from the fusion of two old japaneze words,ike- which means to give life- and bana-flower-, this fact explaining in a suggestive way the meaning of this ancient japanese pursuit. It originated in the VI century Japan, ikebana floral systems being used to adorn Buddhist temples. The salient features of this ancient decorative art are unevenness, asymmetry, the pursue of apparently imperfect shapes and last, but not least, the simpleness, a ikebana composition always suggesting the passing of time. This kind of composition evolves on three levels, symbolising the sky, the man and the Earth. Depending on the kind of vase used, there are two types of ikebana, namely Moribana( uses flat vases) and Nageira( the vase is long and thin).

Amongst the plants used in ikebana compositions I can mention roses, irisis, chrysanthemum or tulips. An interesting impression is created by using branches of japanese cherry or apple trees. The ikebana floral composition evolves in accordance with the season, from the austere and dull adornnings during the winter to spring's boom of life, diversity and colour.

Nowdays Ikebana is an art which has developed globally, going long ago beyond Japan's borders. But the Asian country still remains the home of this fascinating occupation, existing more than 15 million practitions of ikebana, and that just amongst the japanese. It is teached as regular subject in over 3000 schools, being recognized countless styles and masters of ikebana.

Sighisoara, the medieval treasure of Transilvania

Located into the beautiful hills of central Transilvania, one of the loveliest landscapes of Europe, Sighisoara is, for sure, a place worth seeing. It is situated 400 km east of Budapest and 165 km north-vest of Brasov, and, after you surpass the difficulties of the old Romanian infrastructure, when arriving into this medieval wonder you'll discover a charming little town, with great arhitecture and extremly reach in historical sites.

Sighisoara is very much like Prague, but at a smaller scale and it also has the advantage that is not yet so invaded by mass tourism. An old saxon fortress built in the XIII century, it amaizez by the fact that it is still inhabited nowdays, more than 700 years after. The Clock Tower and the Hill Cathedral are the two buildings that stand out from the town's skyline. But in Sighisoara every corner teems of nice surprises, the small medieval streets and XV century houses creating the perfect setting for long and romantic walks.
The Transilvanian city it has a very cosmopolite and multicultural atmosphere, beeing the location for numerous cultural events, which are held each year. The Medieval Arts Festival, which is held every year at the end of July, is maybe the best occasion to visit this charming medieval burg. The narrow streets are buzzing with people of various ethnic background and of all ages. During the three days festival are organized more then twenty events related to medieval theatre, dance, music, exhibitions, crafts, etc, along other folk, rock, etc.
Certainly Sighisoara is a must see when visiting Eastern Europe. The only problem is generated by the poor condition of the romanian roads. The prices are relatively low and the region is packed with quality accomodations for all the budgets.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Origami - The Japanese Art Of Paper

A way to pass time for some, for others just a simple game, Origami is in fact, alongside the tea ceremony and ikebana, one of the most important aspects of the Japanese ancient traditions. It is a truly unique art, a melange between simpleness and armony, in true Japanese manner.
This ancient art of paper folding originated somewhere in China, almost 2000 years ago and it was adopted by japanese aristocracy a few hundred years later. Used in the past for decorating ancient Buddhist temples, origami products have became nowdays a part of the day to day japanese life, being used in various occasions, such as decorating the modern japanese houses or as gifts for weddings. To give you a clue about the impact oregami art has on japanese society, I could tell you that these people are considering building an origami plane to be launched from space. Recently a prototype passed a durability test in a wind tunnel on March 2008, and Japan's space agency adopted it for feasibility studies.
Origami doesn't just cover still-lifes, it also covers moving objects; Origami can move in clever ways. Action origami includes origami that flies, requires inflation to complete, or, when complete, uses the kinetik energy of a person's hands, applied at a certain region on the model, to move another flap or limb. Some argue that strictly speaking, only the latter is really "recognized" as action origami. Action origami, first appearing with the traditional Japanese flapping bird, is quite common. One example is Robert Lang's instrumentalists; when the figures' heads are pulled away from their bodies, their hands will move, resembling the playing of music.