Traditional bark hats are naturally waterproof

(15 Jun 2008)
Kii Mountains -recent
1. Pagoda in shrine foreground, Nachi Waterfall background
2. Kii mountains rise up from Pacific Ocean
3. Green maple leaves
4. Pilgrims on the Kumano Kodo Pilgrimage route. (Man wearing a ninachigasa hat.)
5. Nachi no Otaki (Japan’s highest waterfall and sacred site on the Kumano Kodo Pilgrimage route.)
6. Model dressed as Yamabushi mountain monk on another section of the Kumano Kodo
7. Model on Kumano Kodo
8. Kumano Nachi Taisha Shrine
9. Dragon in Kumano Hongu Taisha (Taisha means Grand Shrine)
10. Main structures in Hongu Taisha Shrine
11. Pilgrims on the Kumano Kudo. (Man wearing a ninachigasa hat.)
12. SOUNDBITE (Japanese) Sakamoto Isao, Mountain Guide
“It’s a place that has had a great influence on Japan’s spiritual culture. Also the pilgrimage route is still in tact and the natural environment has remained untouched. I think that is why the (area became a World Heritage Site.)”
13. Mist over the Kii mountains
14. Model dressed as Mountain Monk blows Conch Shell Horn in the rain
15. SOUNDBITE (Japanese) Sakamoto Isao, Mountain Guide
“It’s an area with a lot of rainfall. It rains a lot.”
16. Model arrives at Kumano Hongu Taisha in the rain
17. SOUNDBITE (Japanese) Sakamoto Isao , Mountain Guide
“Many people come to pay homage at (the sacred sites of the Kumano San Zan) and the hats that they have traditionally worn are like this one. They keep the rain out.”
18. Model in Shrine
19. Model prays at shrine, demonstrating the waterproof attributes of the hat,
SOUNDBITE (Japanese) Sakamoto Isao, Mountain Guide (audio partly covered with video)
“The hat is a really great piece of design. When it rains, the wooden strips that make up it’s structure, expand to close the gaps, keeping out the rain. When the weather is fine, the strips contract and which (while keeping the sun off) allows (cooling) air to pass through the hat.”
20. Plum blossom
21. Shiba Yasao’s orchard, forest and workshop in Ninachi, an area in the Hongu ward of Wakayama Prefecture
22. Shiba San weaving a Cyprus bark hat called a ninachigasa
23. Shiba San at work
24. Close up of Shiba San’s hands
25. Shiba San at work.
26. SOUNDBITE (Japanese) Shiba Yasuo 87
“I learned everything from my deceased father. He taught me to make baskets and containers. Other things apart from hats.”
27. Pan of items that Shiba San makes
28. Lacquered trays woven with Cyprus bark
29. SOUNDBITE (Japanese) Shiba
” Omote Senkei (one of the two schools performing the tea ceremony) containers preferred by the Grand Masters and their predecessors used in the tea rooms. Even now they use the things that I make for them.”
30. Woven container used by the Omote Senkei school during the tea ceremony
31. Shiba San looks at the bark on a Cyprus tree
32. SOUNDBITE (Japanese) Shiba Yasuo
” The bark around the trunk is unusable and further up branches get in the way. So usable bark could be taken from here and about the same again.”
33. Shiba San’s hands on the bark
34. SOUNDBITE (Japanese) Shiba Yasuo
“A single tree, yields very little good material. ”
35. Detail of woven bark in a hat
36. Shiba San at work
37. Shiba San at work
The sacred Kii mountains experience some of the highest levels of rainfall in Japan.
No wonder pilgrims traditionally wear conical hats woven from the bark of cyprus trees called Ninachigasa to protect them from the elements.
The natural proprieties of the hat make it the perfect headwear whether it rains or shines.
Keyword wacky

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