At the end of June a place called Japan House opened up in the West part of London. I only knew its name and I didn’t know anything about it. So, one week after the grand opening I visited the place without any expectation. With their own introduction Japan House “is a project which aims to nurture a deeper understanding and appreciation of Japan in the international community, by creating a number of hubs from which to showcase and communicate Japan as a country of countless charms, able to enrich the rest of the world”.
From the entrance the ground floor level is spaced for the display of many different types of items such as a Bonsai plant, books, arty figures, unusual looking teapots and rubbish bin and then one particular thing on the window sill attracted my attention. It is a wooden object that comes with two parts as a set. One side has some carving on it and the other side has a hole. I wonder if anybody knows what this is.
There was no indication tag for it but I am sure it is a tool for making a kind of Japanese sweet. The type of sweet is called ‘Rakugan’ which is made of rice powder, sugar and starch. The mixed ingredients are pressed between the two pieces and created into a shape and pattern of the wood. The reason I had a slightest doubt about what it is is because this tool is an unusually large size of about 20cm x 10cm or more. But otherwise it looks exactly the kind of tool for this purpose. The carved pattern is a water lily that is quite often used for Buddhism occasions so I believe the big Rakugan made with this tool is for the offering on a Buddhism shrine.
Other things I found there that relate to Japanese sweet making are these shape cutters.
They are in a shape of Pine tree, a Goud, Bamboo leaves, Sakura Cherry blossom, Japanese Maple and Ginkgo leaves and they are so much smaller than the western biscuit cutters.
Apart from these items I introduced here there are so many things which are typically Japanese and you don’t see in Western culture on display in Japan House. I think it must be very interesting for Londoners.