Received in late June via Postcrossing “East Asian culture tag”. :) An interesting postcard!
About Kai Awase:
One of the more famous pastimes of the Japanese nobility was a class of pastimes called “awase,” meaning “matchings” or “joinings.” There were uta-awase (= poetry competitions), e-awase (= picture comparisons), etc. With many of these, it was an actual comparison, a judging of one like item against another, the selection of the better of the two (or three or four or…) being determined by any number of factors pointing to the artistic and aesthetic sensibilities of the person or persons making the judgement.
Sometimes, however, it wasn’t so much awase “matching” but literally awase “joining” that was being done. This is the case with the famous kai-awase, or shell-joining.
A full kai-awase set consists of 360 pairs of clam shells. All are about the same size (some two and a half to three inches across).
Each pair of shells bears the same image. The sources for these images are poetic, seasonal, literary, etc., and depict everything from flowers to noblemen peeking into a room to items of dance costume. The inside of the shells are first cleaned of all matter, then it is gilded and painted. Only the outside of the shell retains its natural look.
(Directly taken from the following link: http://www.sengokudaimyo.com/miscellany/shells.html)
It’s amazing how people can paint on shells like this. @@
Cute Japanese stamps: