Jan 20, 2011

Cocoon balls and sake warmer

My city was once known for its flourishing sericulture, and people had a custom of displaying mayudama (literally "silkworm cocoon balls") on January 14. They cut a small tree that had a trunk diameter that fitted in the hole of the stone mill, and inserted the trunk in the stone mill so that the tree could stay standing. They made a lot of dumplings from rice flour, and stuck them on twigs of the tree, which was then displayed in the house. In this display, the rice dumplings were used to resemble the cocoons of silkworms. This custom represented the people's wish for a good yield of cocoons and good harvest of crops.

When I visited a restored Japanese house of old days, which had been built in Musashi-murayama City for exhibition to the public, in January last year, mayudama was displayed in this house. Then, I felt nostalgic at the display of the mayudama and a homely and cozy taste of the smoky interior with burning fire in the irori fireplace. So, I visited this house this year again. And, also this year, the fire was burning. The smell of smoke and sounds of popping firewood made me relaxed for no special reason.

An ensemble of kimono with a beautiful pattern was hung on a lintel over shoji doors. The texture of this kimono is called Murayama Ohshima, which used to actively be produced in the vicinity of the place of this restored Japanese house, and the material of this kimono may have been woven from silken threads produced also in the place.

In the inmost room of the house, a nagahibachi (old Japanese-style hibachi designed to be used indoors) and kandouko (sake warmer) were displayed. I could imagine how people in old days drank warmed sake on cold days while putting their cold hands over the small fire in this nagahibachi. I tend to grumble about cold weather these days, but warming yourself with such an old classy furniture piece is a joy that is added to by the coldness. In the future, I would like to get a nagahibachi and kandouko via a net auction or from an antique shop, and invite friends home to treat them to warmed sake in a relaxing mood.

Talking of the kandouko, I wrote about it in a past article, and I recently received a comment for this article from a man living in Philadelphia. He is a dexterous man and makes various things by himself for nothing. To my surprise, he made a kandouko after reading my post about this device. Read his article (Kandouko) to learn how he made his kandouko and enjoyed warmed sake with friends.

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