2018 Happy New Year


Woof woof…
2018 is the year of the Dog, inu in Japanese.  In a general sense the dog is seen by the Japanese as the protector of little children.  It is also regarded as an amiable creature in literature and folklore.  The dog even has a sacred status.  It is the only animal allowed in Koya San where the head temple of the Shingon sect of Buddhism is located.  

Two koma inu guardian shrine dogs—bottom left—are just samples of the work done by a stone mason in Wajima.  To the right are racoon dogs, perhaps intended as a novelty item for a garden. Bill Tingey Photo © Copyright
There is an Inudera or “dog temple” in the mountains of Harima.  And it is the guardian statues of koma inu as well as lions that protect the approach to temples and shrines all over Japan.  So let us hope that our year of the Dog will be save!  After all, we need protecting for all kinds of perils these day, both natural and manmade.

Takashi Wakamiya has looked for other meaning in the design of this tea ceremony tea caddy produced by the lacquerware collective Hikoju Makie, which he heads.  Inside the lid there are three cuddly puppies.  What could be more adorable.  Above them is a spray of bamboo().  In a way these motifs can be seen as a representation of the character for warai, to laugh or smile().  

This character has two parts.  The top half is a simplified form of the character for bamboo.  And then below is a character not much different from the standard one for dog/inu ().  

This play on words and characters adds substance to the qualities of the design.  It also provides a talking point to entertain and delight the guests of a tea ceremony.

A sense of happiness, hope and even a gentle chuckle are sure to accompany any spontaneous glimmer of a smile that these images may evoke.

Happy New Year of the Dog.

Tea caddy images courtesy of Hikoju Makie, Copyright

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