We were approached by the Priest of a large shrine near my home in Kurashiki about remaking the over one-hundred year old wheeled cart that carried the float for their festival each year. In Japan, the notion of the festival is two-fold. The word itself (祭る, matsuru) means to feast and celebrate, but first and foremost to offer prayer, deify, and worship. As far as I can tell this is a tradition that most countries in the world have had and/or still have but here in Japan many people's live are quite founded in the festival that their small village, or perhaps large city holds each year. It is a staggeringly large event in either case, and people work diligently together to make it memorable for children and adults alike.
This (台, dai) that we have had the opportunity to work on has been an interesting study. Albeit a small piece compared to many architectural projects we work on everything has to work in tandem with two different sets of wheels, and the springs and axles that accompany them. It is an ingenious device that can travel through large and small streets with flexibility. That said the wood had to be considered, milled and juxtaposed in a way that was suitable for such a little buggy.
The top boards and the handle are an oak for sturdiness under the wear and tear of having the large float ride on them. The framework is a chestnut in following with the older existing jinriki. The rest of the float is done in a local Japanese cypress to be rot resistant, be long lasting, and have a lovely smell.
Soon we should have the new bronze work for the corners, just a bit more and she's ready to go home!
Great fun! Thanks to Ashitaka Shrine for the opportunity!