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Goin’ Japanesque!

Tsuzumimon of Kanazawa Station, Ishikawa, Product of Tradition and Technology

Many of the architectures in Kanazawa City, Ishikawa, well reflect their cultural and historical backgrounds. Here I would like to introduce to you the “Tsuzumimon gate,” one among such architectures around the city. Title: photo by flickr


Tsuzumimon Gate Welcoming Visitors


Writer’s Photo

One step out of the station building of Kanazawa, you will be greeted by this “Tsuzumimon” gate. The wooden structure gives out a stately aura yet is imbued with the warmth of wood. You can tell the structural complexity and how advanced technology has been involved for its construction even just by looking at the photo. It is actually filled with the technology and wisdom that has been handed down through the tradition of Japan.


Tsuzumi and Kanazawa

By Writer

Tsuzumi is a hand drum used in noh play, a Japanese traditional performance arts. And Kanazawa is one of the few places in Japan where the culture of noh has long been rooted.

How noh has been historically rooted in Kanazawa can be proven if you try asking people, especially those who graduated from a junior high school in Kanazawa, whether they have ever watched a noh play before. Most of them would answer “yes” while the answer to the same question anywhere else outside Kanazawa would probably and mostly be “no.” Since 1949 to date, junior high schools in Kanazawa have given their students opportunities to watch noh play and I myself have watched a noh play at one of such opportunities.

Noh in Kanazawa has been nurtured through history and given a special twist specific to the area. It is often performed at various events around Kanazawa and preserved with support from the locals. While noh is a form of art that is steadily on the wane generally around Japan, it still exists for people in Kanazawa as art they can enjoy and feel close to.

If you are interested in knowing what kind of performance art noh is, you can visit Kanazawa Noh Museum, which is located very close to 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa.


The Structure of Tsuzumimon Gate Showcasing Great Technological Sophistication

Now let’s take a look at the structure of the gate.

Writer’s Photo: Pillar Modelled After Tsuzumi Hand Drum

Each of the two pillars of the gate is formed with many wooden bars bending clockwise on the outside and anti-clockwise on the inside. The architectural beauty with all elements designed and arrayed to make spiral movements is just admirable.

As the pillars are made in the shape of a hand drum, what the pillars are to the gate is what the part called “shirabeo” is to a hand drum. “Shirabeo” is an important part to determine the tone of a hand drum just like pillars are structurally very important for a gate.

The gate also has water drain pipes running inside it. The reason for that is to do with the weather in Kanazawa. Because it snows and rains so much in the area that there is a saying, “Never forget to bring an umbrella with you even if you may forget to bring your lunch box.” If you ever have a chance to visit Kanazawa, make sure to bring an umbrella with you.


Motenashi Dome and Tsuzumimon Gate

Writer’s Photo: Tsuzumimon Gate Seen as Part of Station Building

If you look at the gate from a broader perspective, it is merged in beautifully with Motenashi Dome, the grass walled structure behind the gate and they together create a specific architectural view.

Tsuzumimon Gate, the symbol of Kanazawa Station in Ishikawa Prefecture, is a great piece of art in its own right. Many of you might well have a chance to visit Kanazawa sometime, which is one of the most famous tourist destinations in Japan. Do not miss out on the great architectural beauty if you ever have the chance.

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