With a compass, you're never lost.
December 5, 2017 3:04 PM   Subscribe

Japanese family crests are known for their tasteful design and simplicity, but what might surprise you is the incredibly simple geometric principles used to create even complex ones. (No English in the narration, but give it a moment and you won't need it.)

From the NHK program Design Ah, which is about design (both visual and usability) in everyday life.
posted by DoctorFedora (17 comments total) 87 users marked this as a favorite
Whoa, mon!
posted by zamboni at 3:15 PM on December 5, 2017 [3 favorites]

This is beautiful stuff.
posted by a lungful of dragon at 3:44 PM on December 5, 2017

I love this post so much!
posted by wires at 4:18 PM on December 5, 2017

The simplicity link almost drove me into an epileptic seizure.
posted by Chuffy at 4:56 PM on December 5, 2017

The narrator sounds on the verge of exploding with excitement.

My 90 year old set of Riefler drawing instruments may have the edge in repeatability, but those brush compasses are pure class.
posted by scruss at 5:34 PM on December 5, 2017 [1 favorite]

To be fair, the first time I saw one of these, I too nearly exploded with excitement
posted by DoctorFedora at 5:58 PM on December 5, 2017

Mod note: Chuffy, drop us a line if you're not being hyperbolic there - I can't tell, and we're totally willing to put a flashing lights warning tag on links that could cause that issue.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 6:07 PM on December 5, 2017 [3 favorites]

The narrator sounds on the verge of exploding with excitement.

I think this is just the style of Japanese documentary programs, and I kind of love it? At least, that's how I remember Soko Ga Shiritai, which was an absolute staple of my childhood.
posted by tobascodagama at 6:14 PM on December 5, 2017

With a compass, you're never lost.

Unless it's a Tates compass. Because as everyone knows, "He who has a Tates is lost"!

(I know, wrong kind of compass, but I hardly ever get to tell that joke) More to the point, I'd seen these sorts of decorations before, but I always assumed they were drawn freehand. The reality is even cooler!
posted by Greg_Ace at 6:23 PM on December 5, 2017 [8 favorites]

Now my 5 year old daughter wants to find the compass and do this.
posted by ocschwar at 8:47 PM on December 5, 2017 [1 favorite]

This is so awesome. My mother was an East Asian art minor in art school, so I grew up with books and other images of these on pottery. But I never knew how they made them or the origin of some of these common patterns I've seen for decades. This is awesome!

Also delightful: Turning on YouTube's automatic closed captioning with translation and seeing what results. On one of the videos, the only option was Spanish, so the captions tried to capture what was being said in Japanese as if it were words in Spanish. So the sounds matched up, but the narration made no sense. This is in keeping with one of my long-held theories of language, which came about as a result of studying Spanish and judo from an early age, and that at least one linguist friend and/or teacher (can't remember who) validated as essentially true: The vowel sounds in Spanish and Japanese are incredibly similar. Apparently Google's AI/Skynet thinks so too.
posted by limeonaire at 9:01 PM on December 5, 2017 [1 favorite]

A most excellent post! I never considered the geometric simplicity behind the Japanese crest designs. The video production is also delightful with the narrator and the animation sound effects (so Japanese). I live in Taiwan, so I especially appreciate it. Thanks, DoctorFedora.
posted by rmmcclay at 10:03 PM on December 5, 2017

posted by nikoniko at 12:56 PM on December 6, 2017 [1 favorite]

immensely satisfying.
posted by davejh at 3:28 PM on December 6, 2017

When Mrs. Ghidorah and I got married, we went with a traditional Japanese wedding, due in no small part to having several friends working as "wedding celebrants" in the weird faux Christian weddings that are the norm here. My mother couldn't attend, but being an artist (specifically papercut), she offered to make a mon for us, based on the rose motif she'd been using most of her career. I thought it would be kind of neat, and we went through a couple variations until we settled on one that felt right. For the ceremony, the mon was pressed onto the hakama I wore, and I was told later that the women preparing the mon thought it was a real crest, but they were confused and surprised because they couldn't figure out why they'd never seen it before. We've got the papercut version of it in our genkan, and it's one of the last papercuts my mother did before she had to quit because of arthritis. Even if she couldn't make the flight over, she still gave us something lasting to be a part of our wedding.
posted by Ghidorah at 8:38 AM on December 7, 2017 [5 favorites]

Holy crap I want to see this so bad
posted by DoctorFedora at 3:16 PM on December 7, 2017

Wonderful video. Great find. I would like to know more about the inks used on fabric.
posted by xtian at 4:24 AM on December 8, 2017

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