The photo is of the sake (rice wine) cellar at the Hakkaisan Sake Brewery. Situated at the foothills of Mt. Hakkai, in the Niigata prefecture, part of the famous snow country region of Japan, Hakkaisan Brewery is a premium sake (Japanese rice wine) manufacturer. Sake is brewed at the kuro (brewery) from koji (a form of fermented rice). The sake is then chilled in the yuki muro or the snow refrigerator. Niigata experiences almost two meters of snowfall every winter, and the locals have embraced this to their advantage by building snow refrigerators to store the sake and preserve perishables.
In this way, the intimate relationship between nature that the Japanese people share, inspires many ingenious and novel technologies. For instance, the Mars Company has developed and commercialized a unique refrigeration system called the Kuraban that integrates electric field technology and sea-snow (snow made from sea salt and water) in keeping perishables fresh for a much longer time. The cost savings that accrue in transporting perishables by using this technology is significant. The Sumitomo Corporation of Japan is working closely with Mars in further developing, and in achieving large scale commercialization of the technology. The technology developed by Mars is registered with the UNIDO ITPO Tokyo's Sustainable Technology Promotion Platform (STePP).
Gold leaf (kinpaku in Japanese) motifs on lacquer work feature prominently on many ancient Japanese shrines and temples. Notables among these are the Kinkakuji (The Golden Pavilion) in Kyoto and the Nikko Toshogu shrine in the Tochigi prefecture: the final resting place of Tokugawa Ieasu. A UNESCO world heritage site, Nikko Toshugu (built in 1617) is home to the three wise monkeys: Mizaru (one who sees no evil),
Kikazaru (one who hears no evil), and Iwazaru (one who speaks no evil), central to Gandhian (and Indian) philosophy, ethics, and morality. Gandhiji came in close contact with the Japanese Buddhist monk: Nichidatsu Fuji (whom he later Christened as Fuji Guruji), the founder of Nipponzan-Myōhōji order of Buddhism, at his Sevagram ashrama in Wardha (almost seventy-seven kilometers away from Nagpur) and these profound Japanese philosophies percolated in Gandhiji thus.
The art form (overlaying gold leafs on lacquer), is native to Kanazawa, a region in western Japan that boasts of a lion’s share of gold leaf production in Japan, currently.