Welcome to summer in Japan, with its hot days and nights, and its reliance on water features, pools, shady green plants, airy wind chimes, and refreshing watermelon to usher in some coolness!
Our new tenugui celebrate the dazzling lights of the summer firework displays, as well as the natural glowing lights of summer fireflies.
Come with us on our journey through summer in Japan - you're sure to find a design that you like!
Hotaru no Kawa
Yukki and I adore this image of the summer fireflies on a river, with its inky blues and yellow lights.
In his novel The Makioka Sisters, Junichirou Tanizaki describes the fireflies:
'Down into the grasses on the bank, and there, in the delicate moment before the last light goes,
were fireflies, lines of them wavering out from this bank and the other and back again, sketching their uncertain tracks of light down close to the surface of the water, hidden from outside by the grasses.
In the last moment of light, with the darkness creeping up from the water and the moving plumes of grass still faintly outlined, there, far as the river stretched - an infinite number of little lines in two long rows
on either side, quiet, unearthly.'
Fireflies in Japanese Literature are often a metaphor for a burning desire. In Poem 87 of The Tales of Ise (one of the most famous works of Japanese literature), Ariwara no Narihira is with a party travelling home. They see fires on the sea for luring fish, and our host recites this poem:
On this fine night,
Are those stars? Or, by the riverbank
Or even, near my home,
Fires kindled by the fisherfolk?
haruru yo no
hoshi ka kawabe no
wa ga sumu kata no
ama no taku hi ka
Yoshio Okada 'Hotaru'
Perhaps the most well-known firefly moment in Japanese literature of all is in the chapter 'Fireflies' in The Tale of Genji. Genji's half-brother earns the name 'hotaru', after an incident organised by Genji in which for a single moment his beautiful adopted daughter Tamakazura is illuminated by fireflies. (This, in an era when noble women lived their lives secluded from the male gaze).
The lotus flower (hasu) grows through murky water and then emerges and appears to float on the surface. This beautiful, fragrant flower symbolizes enlightenment and purity, and it can often be found in ponds and pools near temples and shrines in Japan during the summer.
The beautiful shady, umbrella-like leaves contrast perfectly with the delicate pinks of the flower.
Wind Chimes and Summer Maple
This beautiful landscape tenugui features furin - the wind chimes that make a soft tinkling sound as the cooling summer breezes play around them.
We love this cool blue tenugui as a table runner when we're serving Japanese tea. But we also love it displayed in our light-wood frame, which you can read all about below.
Zusetsu Tenugui Wall-hanging Kits
Our tenugui wall-hanging kits are very popular for displaying our vertical tenugui. We have sent them all over the world.
Our Tenugui Wall-hanging Kits are made of two split narrow poles which contain small magnets (please be mindful if you have small children). The split poles secure the textile easily and quickly. We supply black macrame cord to decoratively wind around the top pole and to hang your art on the wall with.
We also supply an instruction leaflet - it's very easy to hang your tenugui!
We can usually supply bespoke sizes too, so do enquire!
You can find our Tenugui Wall-hanging Kits instore here!
Tenugui Horizontal Frame
And many of you have enquired about our lovely picture frame which features in our product photos for our horizontal tenugui. We'd love to share this info with you so you can have your own tenugui frames made, and display this artwork beautifully in your home too.
We asked our local picture framer Paul (Foxwist Picture Framers in Shipston-on-Stour) to make this frame for our tenugui. We gave him the dimensions of our tenugui and a photo of how we wanted it to look. He matched it exactly!
The horizontal tenugui fabric is 330mm high by 900mm wide approximately, and so I asked him to make the frame to snugly fit this. The fabric is happy at being folded slightly if necessary to fit, so it's a lot better if the frame is slightly too small than slightly too big!
The actual wooden moulding is 23mm wide as you look at it on the top, and it's a lovely light wood.
I asked for no glass, and the whole frame, with board backing and pins to secure the tenugui cost me £40 (in 2020). I'm sure you could fit safety glass if you prefer!
If you have a local picture framer they should be able to look at our photos and dimensions and make something very similar for you too! If you need any further help do get in touch!
This tenugui celebrates the summer fireworks in Japan!
One year we went to see the Tokyo fireworks on the Sumida river. On the metro many people were dressed in summer yukata, and they were heading for the big firework display too.
Crowds of people arrived at one bridge that crossed the river overlooked by the towering Sky Tree. As we made our way to the small arched bridge torrential rain began to fall, and the coloured fireworks streaked and dripped and blurred across the dark sky.
Summer of Cats and Goldfish
Lastly, what could be more cute than this adorable, playful cat
and the tempting windchime and little kingyo goldfish!
We hope you have enjoyed reading about our new tenugui designs for summer.
You can see all of our range of tenugui wall art here!
Thank you for reading and see you next time,
Cathy and Yukki
Junichirou Tanizaki, Edward Seidensticker (trans.), The Makioka Sisters, (Vintage), p.323.
wakapoetry.net (firefly poem by Ariwara no Narihira).
1800flowers.com (thank you for the text about the lotus flower).