Ancient art supports temple

Naoko Hayashi with just a few of her many mizuhiki pieces. The Mizhuhiki Show & Sale takes place Saturday at the Vernon Japanese Cultural Centre. - Katherine Mortimer/Morning Star
Naoko Hayashi with just a few of her many mizuhiki pieces. The Mizhuhiki Show & Sale takes place Saturday at the Vernon Japanese Cultural Centre.
— image credit: Katherine Mortimer/Morning Star

For more than 800 years, artisans in Japan have been fashioning paper into intricate pieces of art.

Naoko Hayashi, 91, didn’t start working with mizuhiki until she was in her 50s and has since created hundreds of pieces ranging from colourful necklaces to intricate trees and flowers.

Mizuhiki is a strong, thin twine made from washi, traditional Japanese paper made from the inner bark of the kozo, gampi and mitsumata bushes. Mizuhiki adds a special meaning to the Japanese word “musubu,” which means connection or tying. Japanese people use mizuhiki to convey warmth, affection and togetherness.

Hayashi is one of a very few mizuhiki artists in North America who continue this ancient craft.

It all began in the year 607, when Zui, a Japanese delegate to China, brought back a gift to the Japanese emperor. On the lid of the gift box was a red and white decoration, made of twine. The decoration symbolized a “safe journey” for the delegate.

The single gift box and its decoration began a tradition in Japan. Whenever a gift was offered to the imperial court, a red and white loose knot-like decoration, using the bonded and dried washi material, was crafted onto the box. In the Heian period, this decoration became known as mizuhiki.

All are welcome to the Mizuhiki Show & Sale taking place Saturday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Vernon Japanese Cultural Centre, 4895 Bella Vista Rd.; the event is a fundraiser for the Vernon Buddhist Temple.

There will be framed works, cards, jewelry, floral arrangements, wall hangings and individual stand-alone pieces available for viewing and sale.


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