When we only have medium size of pens for Maki-e works, we felt we need bigger pens for better Maki-e works, and we therefore, made Mikado for that purpose in several years ago. This pen uses Eye Dropper system. It is 6 3/8” long when the cap closed and diameter of the barrel is 13/16” heavy. The Maki-e on this pen has been very good because of its big space. The nib is size #8 in 18k gold available with F, M, B and Stub.
MIKADO > MAYUMI KUMANO (MAYUMI)
MK-26, Aoinoue (A Noh play). Aoinoue, from "The Tale of Genji" a Hikaru Genji's legal wife was ill in bed,
her doctors or monks could not find what was wrong. A Miko (a maid in the service of a shrine) was consulted and found that was an act by Hikaru Genji's former love Rokujo-no Miyasudokoro as she came with worn vehicle to Aoinoue's bedside and harassed her trying to take her to the other world, but the ghost was finally defeated by an ascetic's pray. All the clothing and flame are Taka Maki-e. Design on the section is Hira Maki-e.
MIKADO > MINORU OOHATA
Fugaku 36 Kei and Tokaido 53 Tsugi. Fugaku 36 Kei is an artist, Hokusai drew sceneries with Mt. Fuji from 36 different locations, and Tokaido (Tokai Highway) 53 Tsugi is drawing 53 stages between Tokyo and Kyoto by the famous artist Hiroshige and some others. Having believed that Tokaido and Fugaku are two of the best sources of Maki-e designs on pens and, I asked Mr. Masanori Omote for the Grand Trio collection and Mr. Minoru Oohata for the Mikado collection. There are seven designs of Tokaido/36Kei series and all use Taka and Togidashi Maki-e techniques with various sizes of gold mixed with silver powders as the main color on them.
MK-2, Nihon Bashi and Shinagawa (Nihon Bridge & Shinagawa). Since the Nihon Bridge (on cap) is located in the center of Edo (Tokyo), it is the first station of this highway towards Kyoto and it was the original famous fish market center in Japan, and even now you can see some old shops still there. Shinagawa (on barrel) was regarded as a stop and tourists stayed overnight there. This town has become a part of Tokyo today, the Shinagawa district.
MK-3, Sanka Hakuu (Showers beneath the peak of Mt. Fuji) It is one of the most famous paintings of 36Kei (on cap) by Hokusai. On the barrel is "Aoyama Enza-no Matsu" (Pine tree with a dome shape) also by Hokusai. In today's Shibuya district of Tokyo, a temple called "Ryugan Temple" has a famous pine tree in its yard called Enza-no Matsu because the shape in the dome and its branches spread to 100 feet wide.
MK-4, Kanagawa-oki Namiura (Off the coast of Kanagawa). It is one of the best among 36Kei (cap). This world renowned painting is shown very often on stamps or at famous auction houses in the world. The barrel has another famous 36Kei, "view of Kajikazawa in Ko-shu".
MK-5, Hodogaya and Kanagawa (Two names of places). Hodogaya,
a stage of Tokaido by Hiroshige (cap) is hard to trace its image
today in Katapira-cho, Yokohama. Kanagawa (barrel), less than 10
miles from Tokyo, was a busy place in the Meiji era. There were
consulate offices from America, France, Britain and the Netherlands.
MK-21, Noborito-ura and Onden Suisha (Noborito Bay and the mill of Onden). The Torii (cap) can prove that the bay hasn't changed since then. The bay is famous for seashell gathering[s]. Onden was located around the area where a JR Station at Harajuku district is in Tokyo today, but there is no more mill there.
MK-22, Sun-set at Ryokoku Bridge. People (on cap) appreciated Sun-sets at Mt. Fuji and Ryokoku Bridge over the Sumida River from 36Kei. Kanaya (on barrel) is around 130 miles from Tokyo at Ooi River, one of the most dangerous paths for travelers.
MK-23, Hakone Kosui (View from the lake at Hakone). Hakone of 36Kei (on cap) is famous for its hot spring, but it was one of the most difficult paths for travelers at that time. On the barrel is "view from Sekiya-no Sato at Sumida River".
MK-10, New Kodai Monyo (An ancient design with a phoenix and Karakusa , an arabesque pattern with vines) using from #1 to #8 various sizes of gold and gold mixed with silver powders heavily sprinkled all over the surface. And at the edge of the cap, barrel and the knob, there are hundreds of Kirigane (rectangular gold foils) and Marugane (round gold foils) to make this piece very unique.
MK-15, Suzaku (The Red Peacock)
MIKADO > YUJI OOKADO (YUJI)
MK-1, War Drum Beating
Wajima is the capitol of Urushi and no question about it. But Wajima is also well known for her big festivals which are also promotional events for the city. The major festivals include Wajima Taisai, Wajima Dochusai, Hikiayama Matsuri or Nafune-taisai to name a few. Among them, Wajima Taisai lasts 3 days with huge Kiriko as tall as 40 ft or even taller. They are big lanterns in a rectangular shape and painted with Urushi. As for Gojinjo-daiko, the main event is drum beating held on July 31st and August 1 every year.
Our first design on Wajima Festivals is Gojinjo-daiko, a drum performance with a big drum performed by two to several drummers at the same time, disguised as ghosts or demons with bark and seaweeds on their heads. The special performances are held at Nafune-taisai through the evening of July 31 to the morning of August 1 at Hakusan shrine to celebrate their victory against the Uesugi Clan in 1577. The shrine was built to worship Ohtsunohime who was believed to help them defeat the enemy.
MK-6, I'm A Cat
It would be very hard to find a Japanese who does not know Natsume Soseki (1867-1916), the very popular novelist in the Meiji era (1868-1912). His portrait was printed on 1000 yen bills for quite a few years until recently, and his collections are still sold at major book stores everywhere today. The most well known of his works is "Kokoro (Heart)", but his first novel "Wagahai Wa Neko De Aru" ( I am a Cat) made him instantly famous as a novelist.
A wandering cat was picked up by "Kushami", the owner of the house, but he was never given a name until the end. He lay in the house and listened to the funny conversation among Kushami and his old friends and thought that human beings were ridiculously funny. The author's humor was expressed profoundly well and he was very encouraged and wrote another great book, Botchan to establish his top position in Japanese modern literature. In "I am a Cat" there are four cats who have their own community gossip over the fence. Shiro (white) is owned by a serviceman family, Mikeneko, a tortoiseshell cat by an artist, and Kuro, a big black lazy cat from a forwarder, and the hero's owner, Kushami is a poor teacher.
In the last
page of this novel, the hero cat, when he was wandering around outside
of the house after he drank some beer left by Kushami's guests,
fell into a big watered jar. He could not get out of the jar and
he thought he was dying. But he still felt good and fell into sleep…………end.
He had nine lives, too. He was rescued by a writer who considered
himself as the most faithful student of Natsume Soseki, called Uchida
Hyakken (1889-1971). He wrote "Gansaku (fake) I am a Cat".
This instantly reminded me of Maurice Ravel's Waltz "imitating"
Johann Strauss. The "fake" was immediately accepted as
MK-9, Kanjincho (Subscription List)
MK-25, Seiryu (The blue dragon). One of the Four Gods in a myth. Technique is Shishiai Togidashi Maki-e with Raden. #8 gold powder and beige Urushi were used to paint the back and the belly of the dragon. #8 gold powder and blue Urushi are used on the body of the dragon.
MK-28, Dojoji (Dojo Temple). A design from a Noh Play, Dojoji has another interesting story of demons at Dojoji. One day a new bell was going to be hung in the temple and only men were allowed. A woman asked to get into the temple to see the bell under the condition that she would dance for them. The woman finally was allowed to dance, and when she danced wildly towards the bell, the bell dropped to the floor and the woman disappeared. The monk of the temple knew that must have been a ghost's doing and talked about the story of a girl called Kiyohime who loved a monk, Anchin. But Anchin was afraid of her and tried to hide in the bell of Dojoji. The woman turned into a serpent and wrapped herself around the bell and melted it in her rage. Taka Maki-e technique is used on the serpent, the bell and the Noh mask.
MK-32, Saigo Takamori, The Last Samurai. Saigo Takamori (1828-1877) was very loyal to the Meiji emperor and got a position as an adviser to the government and strongly supported the Restoration movement. But then, he rejected the country to be westernized, while the statesmen like Ito Hirobumi or Okubo Toshimichi who were learning western culture in Europe and America, came back to Japan and opposed his idea of invading Korea and anti-westernization. He was forced to resign his post and went back to Kagoshima. He was a patriot and a very conservative fighter with many followers in Kyushu and moved by his followers to attack the government. Saigo was defeated in September of 1877 and killed himself in Kyushu. Saigo is regarded as the last Samurai as he died with his principles. His bronze statue as the design still stands in Ueno Park of Tokyo admired by many Japanese as a tragic hero.
MK-36, Hou-oh (Phoenix)
MK-37, Double Dragon
MK-39, Wind-god vs. Thunder-god. This is a popular theme for paintings in Japan. The most famous paintings of the theme were painted by Ogata Korin and Tawaraya Sotatsu on folding screens. The myth originated from Buddhism. In Japan, the Wind-god is usually painted naked with a big air bag on his back running in the sky, while Thunder-god has a face a demon with a belt of Tiger's skin, a big hoop with a string of drum attached is slung over his shoulder, and a big bat in his hand. Technique is Shishiai Togidashi Maki-e.
MK-41, No Evil Monkeys The theme was inspired by the well known Monkey Trio carving on the wall of Toshogu, a shrine built for famous Shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu in Nikko during the 17th century. It is humorously designed with gestures of the monkeys representing "See no evil", "Say no evil" and "Hear no evil". Technique is Shishiai Togidashi Maki-e.
MK-42, Hanami Odori (Dancing at flower view party). In Japan flower viewing is so popular and they enjoy it in public places throughout the country. And every big city or rural areas also have such flower viewing festivals with Japanese music played with Shamisen (a Japanese string instrument) and everybody dances indoor or on the streets.
MK-76, Seiryu (Blue Dragon)
MK-77, Suzaku (The Red Peacock)
MK-78, Byakko (The White Tiger)
MK-79, Genbu (The serpent and Turtle Gods)
MIKADO > MASANORI OMOTE
There are four Maki-e artists, who are now major Maki-e artists in the circle working on our Maki-e at present, were his students before they became free lancers. His most recent works are the Maki-e on the walls in the main hall of well known Kissho-in temple in Chita City of Aichi prefecture. Omote san work Maki-e for us for more than 5 years, and his masterpieces such as Tokaido series were very well accepted. His recent remarkable works include “Fixed Stars”, “Miyama Enreiso”, “Four Seasons from Ise Monogatari” and of course “Kirin”, he will appear at the coming Washington DC Pen Show with these works. After more than 50 years on Maki-e, he is now one of the very few whose works reach to “collectible level” today.
Kirin includes” Ki” as a female and “rin” as a male. The body is like a horse, while its look is like a dragon, and only male has a horn. Kirin, animal gods represent Justice for good people and it is considered an omen of good luck.
Here is a rarely known story about the100 year old Kirin on the beer bottles, as the label was originally designed by Rokkaku Shisui, (1867-1950) a Maki-e master of Matsuda Gonroku when he was still a starving art student of Tokyo Fine Art School. He was asked by his friend to do it for making some money, and he did. Strangely, the author never talked about this to anyone nor left any written record about this. On the other hand, The headquarter of Kirin Beer also said that they could not find anyone who designed the label until 1961 when Ishikuro Keishichi in his book “A tale of beer” said that his father-in-law, Rokkaku Shisui was asked by the beer company and designed the label for only five yen.
The techniques and materials used by the author, Masanori Omote san are abundant. Taka Maki-e is used on the Kirin’s body and Shishiai Togidashi Maki-e on their faces.
Platinum powder is used on the tails and the wave crest. On the cap he uses Taka Maki-e and Kirigane (rectangular gold foil) and Marugane (round shape gold foil) for the cloud all over, a masterpiece.
MK-46, Shukyokusei (Fixed Stars)
MK-47, Oshikoyo (Pressed Maple)
MK-48, Shinzan Enreiso
MK-49, Ryo-Ko (Dragon vs. Tiger)
Ise Monogatari (Tales of Ise), (MK-55/56/57/58)
The Tales of Ise were so popular in Edo period (1615-1868) that there were more than 100 different “Ise Monogatari” with illustrations. Our “Four Seasons” Maki-e collection was selected from those hundreds of pictures by Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter with the episodes, and the Maki-e artist is Mr. Masanori Omote, a master from Ishikawa prefecture.
MK-55, Spring “Nagisa-no In”, The temple at Nagisa. Episode #82
MK-56, Summer “Kakitsubata”, an iris. Episode #9
MK-57, Autumn Senya-wo Ichiya-ni, thousand nights as one night. Episode #22
MK-58, Winter Ono-no An, The hermitage of Ono. “Though the Snow”, Episode #83
MIKADO > MASAYUKI HARIA (YUHAKU)
MK-29, Taki (Waterfall)
MK-30, Kashiwa-ni Fukurou (The Oak and Owl)
MK-65, Mushi-no Ne, Voice of Cricket.
Maki-e Urushi box for The Four Seasons (MK-81/82/83/84)