Selected Article

Life style of ancient capital

We want to translate the high-quality life style from Heian period (The Heian period is the last division of classical Japanese history, running from 794 to 1185. The period is named after the capital) into modern life. Due to the true history.

The spirit of seeking superior quality

Written by Junko YAMAMOTO Illustration by Takiko KUROIWA

Researcher of literature of Heian period / professor of human culture department, Kyoto Gakuen University.
Born in 1960, Kanazawa ISHIGAWA. Researcher of literature of Heian period. Graduated from literature department of Kyoto University. She has been the instructor of Ishigawa prefectural Tatsumi Ga Oka high school, and finished the master course in the human・environment school of Kyoto University, and received the PhD qualification (Human・environment). Now working as a professor of History folk customs・Japanese language and culture in the Human Culture department in Kyoto Gakuen University. In 2007, won the 29th Suntory Literature Award by “The period of The Tale of Genji” (selected works of Asahi).

In modern language, Japanese explain the extreme of one thing with the word “極める”(kiwameru). And explain the ideal way with the word “極め”(kiwame). The nobles of the Heian Period have been enjoying the bliss of glory and luxury. But they found the “difference” from the extreme joy, by the other words, they have seen the extreme bliss world which above other enjoyment. The word which explain the extreme bliss is “きわこと”(kiwakoto). Even overstepped the extreme quality, nothing could be better than it, they called, praised and longed for the word.

“Kiwakoto” also appears in The Tale of Genji. Hikaru Genji, the protagonist in the novel was once standing on the peak of his political life, his daughter was married to the Mikado, and this’s the happiest scene in the novel. To sort out the appurtenances his daughter took in the story, there’s a codex which written with kana (Japanese syllabary). Certainly, it was handwriting. Although the printing technology already existed in Heian period, same as the modern paintings, the unique is valuable. At that time, he recalled the words he had seen, which written by Rokujō no Miyasundokoro (Lady Rokujō 六条御息所, is a fictional character in The Tale of Genji). “That’s [Kiwakoto], it’s special treatment” he said. Lady Rokujo was known as one of lovers of Hikaru Genji, she used to be the Crown Princess. Even in the luxury capital, she was so famous lady. She’s not only famous by her naming, but also her knowledge about writing, she was well educated. The novel explained the aesthetic consciousness with the memory of Hikaru Genji.

The values of Kyoto were inherited from Heian period. And now, the ideal of “KIWAKOTO” is still alive in this ancient city. So, we want to make the ideal of “KIWAKOTO” integrate into our daily life. We want to casually feel the extreme spirit enjoyment always, just like Hikaru Genji did.


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