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Hakata Okiage

Play time
6:27

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Introducing Hakata Okiage; designated as a special handicraft by the Fukuoka prefectural government, this art form involves hand-painted faces, and a combination of materials to make a three dimensional work of art.

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Are you familiar with Hakata Okiage?
A rough sketch made on a battledore or tapestry is made three-dimensional by using cloth or cotton.
This act of making it into a raised piece of art is called "okiage" in Hakata.
Allow us to introduce this Hakata Okiage, which has been designated as a special handicraft by the Fukuoka prefectural government.

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In Hakata, there was a tradition of giving okiage as a gift for when a girl was born.
The appeal of Hakata Okiage is it's attention to fine detail in it's hand-drawn face.
Originally in the Edo Period, okiage were made by ladies of the court.
During the Meiji and Taisho Periods, the art form was included in the curriculum for women in Hakata.

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This is Ms. Shimizu, nice to meet you.
Nice to meet you.
Hakata Okiage have such a vivid colors; they're so cute!
What do you think the appeal of okiage is?
It's in the facial features.
The face is hand-drawn. It is the essence of okiage.
When is okiage used or hung on walls?
In January…when a girl is born, a celebratory battledore is given.
It is a lucky charm that sends misfortune flying.
March is the month of Ohinasama dolls.
The majority of these Ohinasama dolls are used in kabuki.
In Hakata Okiage, each piece of art has a unique meaning attached to it.
What kind of things do you pay special attention to when making one?
The kimono and belt, hem, cuff, color scheme, and collar;
If the color and pattern don't match then it's not going to look good as a whole.
That part is extremely important to me.
The combination is very important.
Taking into account colors and patterns...is it fun?
It is!
I'm actually teaching a class right now, would you like to join us?
That'd be lovely!

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Ok, I'm ready to learn.
First, take this template and draw it on this thick paper.
So this part is just tracing.
Next, cut this part.
You can cut right along these lines.
Cutting this part smoothly is the real trick.
Otherwise the head part becomes a little uneven.
Ok so this is the head.
The curved parts are important.
They're a little difficult.
They're very difficult!
I'm sure you guys are able to do this with much more skill.
But you're doing a very good job.
This is one part.
You attach it to a piece of cotton with bonding material.
You cut the material so that its diameter is about 7mm larger than the paper.
Now you want to put the bonding material here and attach it like this.
And now you have the face. Then you put on the head.
Next you put on the body.
After that you attach this red material.
This is the procedure for Hakata Okiage.
After you're finished, you put it all together again like this.
And then you paste them onto here.

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This is Ms. Shimizu, a third-generation Hakata Okiage maker.
Pleasure to meet you.
Likewise.
What is Hakata Okiage to you?
I want to communicate the charm of okiage to the current generation while also preserving the tradition that has been passed down from my grandmother to my mother, and my mother to me.
Have there been any struggles that come with this art form?
First of all, it's been great just to make people happy.
When making it,it's sometimes difficult to start the design process.
Putting the clothes together and painting the face can also be difficult at times.
That's quite a bit!
It can be difficult.
It'd be amazing if this skill, which was passed down from your grandmother to your mother, and now your mother to you, can continue to be passed down.

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This Hakata Okiage, which is now a special traditional handicraft of Fukuoka Prefecture is on display at the artisan gallery on the second floor of ACROS Fukuoka and the Yokamon Plaza on the 11th floor of Fukuoka's prefectural building.

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With its precision skill and minute handiwork, Hakata Okiage is a traditional art form that must be preserved for generations to come.