Connecting Hearts – IIDA MIZUHIKI
Mizuhiki, the art of binging and connecting
Have you ever received a gift of sweets or flowers, and the ribbon or paper that wrapped them was so beautiful you wanted to keep it? In Japan, there are decorative strings called ‘Mizuhiki’ used to tie gifts together. The color and shape of the Mizuhiki change according to the situation of the recipient. The Mizuhiki is intended to ward off evil spirits or bring good luck to the recipient. There are various theories about its origin, but according to the oldest theory it was born in the year 607. This is when Ono no Imoko, a Japanese envoy to the Zui Dynasty in China, brought back a gift tied with a hemp cord dyed in red and white to pray for peace and safety. Since then, this custom of Mizuhiki gradually permeated people’s lives from the imperial court. Iida City in Nagano is known for its beautiful water, kouzo (a type of mulberry), and the dry, crisp climate. The production of Iida-daicho-gami, the base from which Mizuhiki are made, flourished.This strong paper was also used in Iida to make Motoyui, a cord used to tie the topknots of samurai. Later, when the Meiji government issued a decree to cut off the hair, Motoyui was no longer needed, but the technique of making Motoyui was passed down to Mizuhiki production, and Iida City continues to be a major center of Mizuhiki production, producing 70% of all Mizuhiki in the country today.
The sender’s sentiments expressed through Mizuhiki
As time went on, many variations of Mizuhiki were created, but what remains the same is the sentiment of the sender that accompanies it. For example, Mizuhiki tied with a butterfly knot is used for celebratory occasions such as the birth of a child or the advancement to a higher grade of school, as the knot can be repeatedly tied and opened. On the other hand, Mizuhiki tied with a knot that is difficult to untie once it is tied is used for events that should not be repeated, such as funerals, weddings, and visits to the sick or injured, with the hope that the event will never be repeated. The Mizuhiki ‘knot’ connects the hearts of the sender and receiver.Today, Mizuhiki is also used to create, accessories, craft, and artwork. For example, accessories by “RITUAL the crafts”are combined with metal and wood, available in a variety of string color combinations and can be cherished for a long time. Vivid Iida Mizuhiki vases go well with the hues of natural plants and flowers. Iida Mizuhiki can be used in a variety of artworks, both two-dimensional and three-dimensional, as it is available in a wide range of colors and the length is adjustable. A single thread made from Japanese paper can readily change its shape and color, adding color to our lives.