About Japanese Customs upon Welcoming the New Year

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Happy New Year!!

 

As this is our first edition on our blog in 2017, I would like to provide a simple guideline and speak upon Japanese customs related to our new year celebration.

 

We call the days from January 1st to the 3rd “San ga nichi”, an auspicious time to appreciate the fact that we were able to welcome the new year. This is the time we call “oshougatsu” as a whole, and many people take days off for the holidays to spend time with families and to have a grand celebration, although much more quiet than in the U.S. for comparison.

 

During oshogatsu period, we have distinct customs and one of them is decorating a “shimenawa”, a sacred or holy straw rope tied in a knot, on the front door. This can be traced back to Shintoism in Japan. It was said in the past that every year, that particular year’s divine spirit would be present on earth from the heavens and as a preparation to welcome the divine god we decorate our doors with the shimenawa, the holy rope.

 

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In addition, we have a custom of sending greeting cards at the end of the year to those we are indebted to through associations in the passing year. Or, “osechi” cuisine that is only consumed during the oshogatsu period, and also a ritual to pay one’s respect to the shrine. These customs are deeply engrained in the fabric of our culture even today.

 

We have shipped our rain chains to many different countries but I assume that every country has its own customs to welcome the new year. Sometime in the future, I hope to spend the new year season in other countries to experience its unique custom.

 

As in the years past, we received many orders from various countries abroad and even received pictures of them being installed!

 

I wish all those that purchased our proud handmade rain chains and everyone visiting our site a Happy New Year and wish for a prosperous 2017!!

 

About “Gargoyles” on massive gothic architecture in the West.

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In the West, rain spouts called Gargoyles exist. The origin is from the French word gargouille. It means “throat”, perhaps being named for the fact that it sticks out from the buildings and its function is to drain rain water.

 

They are often a part of large cathedrals, and they are usually fantastic animals made of stone. It has been written that although it is used on large churches, they are not religious in meaning but are functioning ornamental rain spouts.

 

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Rain chains would be Japan’s equivalent of decorative spouts that incorporate rain water, but stone is rarely used in Japanese architecture, and instead wood or thatches are used, as well as fired material such as Japanese roof tiles. Perhaps this aspect of cultural difference in architecture prevented Japan from stone-made decorative spouts such as Gargoyles.

 

Attempts have been made to stylize rain spouts around the world and each country’s architectural culture had a great impact on the type of rain spouts such as “Gargoyles” or our Japanese rain chains, both having highly stylized form while incorporating rain water.

Our rain chain “Toh” now has a larger model in size L, which will drain water even for truly oversized roofs.

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In addition to “Toh” rain chain with conventional size, a slightly larger “Toh L” is now available. Larger 60mm diameter is one and a half times larger than the 45mm of its predecessor.

Keeping the three varied cylinder sizes on the chain for a random feeling in its design, we increased the drainage capacity for adaptability to buildings with larger roofs.

 

The Toh rain chain was developed with a concept of positive adaptability to modern architecture by reviewing the conventional rain chains from the past in Japan. As a result, we now find a great increase in number of scenes that display buildings with rain chains.

 

Japanese rain chains are unique type of drainage system, particularly because it has a design aspect as its main feature.

 

It has an ornamental quality as it displays water flowing gracefully down from the roof using only natural force. When thinking about decorations with water, the first thing that comes to mind is water fountains, but principally, they use electricity to jet the water. There is a global call to reduce consumption of fossil fuel, and rain chains are eco-friendly water ornamentation with a function that operates cleanly and provides aesthetic pleasure.

 

Speaking of functions, in principle, common gutters collect rain water from the roof and let it flow down the pipe shaped drain. But there are situations, due to building design, where gutters and pipes cause complications for draining water. In these settings, rain chains that hangs vertically down could provide a valid solution for rain drainage.

 

Our mission on developing “Toh” was renewing the designs of rain chains that possess outstanding decorative and functional qualities but limited to matching traditional Japanese architecture and to provide a makeover by redesigning it to fit modern architecture. On top of its design evolution, the improved drainage capacity will increase its applicability with the arrival of the larger L size model.

 

Please click below for performance comparisons of rain chains.

http://rainchainsjp.com/design-info/