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These intricate and extraordinarily beautiful embroidered silk balls are a form of Japanese folk art called Temari, which means “hand ball” in Japanese. These particular temari are even more impressive because they were handmade by a 92-year-old grandmother in Japan.

"Although she only learned this elaborate skill in her sixties, she has since created nearly 500 unique designs that have been photographed by her granddaughter NanaAkua. Impressive does not even begin to describe this feat of dexterity, imagination and keen eyesight. The difficult process of becoming a recognized temari craftsman in Japan is tedious and requires specific training and testing. This grandmother must certainly be one motivated and talented woman. And if that was not enough to garner your complete admiration, she now volunteers every week teaching others how to make their own temari.”

Temari have been made in Japan since the 7th century and are still highly valued and cherished as gifts symbolizing deep friendship and loyalty. They are traditionally given to children by their parents on New Year’s Day. Mothers place a small piece of paper with a secret goodwill wish for her child inside the tightly-wrapped ball. Alternately, some temari are made as noisemakers by placing rice grains or bells in the center.

Visit My Modern Metropolis to view more of NanaAkua’s photos of her grandmother’s beautiful handiwork and learn more about this stunning Japanese holiday tradition.

Many Japanese think their language is so unique that foreigners cannot grip its essence, its beauty or its subtlety. And if some foreigner claims that he has grasped that essence, nobody believes him. One reason they think that way is because Japan is a very homogeneous country that has not been occupied by other countries except for a brief period after World War II. Its culture was not threatened by other cultures. So the Japanese language has been isolated. It has been isolated for maybe 2,000 years. That’s why Japanese are so certain about its uniqueness, its nature, its structure, its function. I think what some young Japanese writers are doing is trying to break, to destroy, that stubbornness, to rebel against that certainty.
Haruki Murakami (via murakamistuff)
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