NIPPON Kichi - 日本吉

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2008/6/12


蚕の社 Kaiko-no-yashiro Kaiko no Mori

Jp En

Kaiko no Mori, located in Uzumasa, Kyoto, is officially called Konoshimanimasu-amateru-mitama Shrine. It is also affectionately known as Konoshima Shrine by the local people.
It is believed that this shrine was built in the year 604.  Kaiko no Mori, which means “silkworm shrine”, was thought by Hatashi, an expatriate from the Korean Peninsula, to be the location of the deity of sericulture, or silkworm raising and also the deity of the textile industry.  The shrine was burned in a number of wars and the current structure was most likely restored after the Meiji period.
In the west of the shrine is a spring-water pond called Mototadasu Pond. In the middle of this pond stands a torii called Mihashira Torii. Torii are large gates, erected at the entrance to Shinto Shrines or other sacred places. The Mihashira torii has an unusual design and it is considered one of the “Kyoto Three Torii”. It has three columns and it looks triangle-shaped from above. In the middle is a holly seat where the spirit of the deity sits. The origin of the torii is not known, but the current torii is thought to have been built in 1831.
Kaiko no Mori still has many followers especially from the silk-reeling industry. It is also worshiped as the location of the guardian deity of the town.

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2008/5/20


三度笠 Sandogasa Sando-gasa Hat

Jp En

Sando-gasa is a hat woven with bamboo or sedge.
Unlike most other hats that have a triangular pyramid shape, sando-gasa has a thin flat shape that is rounded towards the top and, seen head-on, it looks more like a thick horizontal line.
Sando-gasa is most commonly seen worn by yakuza, or gangsters, in Japanese period dramas. However, it was generally an express foot messenger who wore the hat regularly.
The messengers would travel both ways between Edo (Tokyo), Oosaka and Kyoto three times a month, and thus, were called “sando hikyaku” or three time messengers. The hats they loved were, accordingly, named sando-gasa.
The hat is wide enough to cover a person’s shoulders and can protect sufficiently from rain if the rain is not too hard. It is also very light and was often used by traveling merchants who wanted to avoid any excess weight other than their wares.
Inside, the hat is equipped with a circular head pedestal called atamadai which makes the hat fit quite well on the head.
Sando-gasa is a simple yet well designed hat filled to the brim with ancestral wisdom.
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2008/4/4


箟岳白山祭 Nonodake-hakusan-sai Nonodake Hakusan Festival

Jp En

Mt. Nonodake in Wakuya Town in Miyagi Prefecture has been known as the holy mountain since the ancient times. Nonodake Hakusan Festival with a history of more than 1,000 years is performed gracefully with the traditional ritual at Konpoji Temple at the top of the mountain. The festival is continued for about 1 month from New Year’s Day to the end of January.

The most attractive event during the festival period is the Oyumi (the sacred archery) ritual performed on the 4th Sunday of January. After the prayer for a rich harvest is offered, the rice cake called “Oshitogiage” is dedicated to Hakusan Gongen. Then, assisted by the priests, two Chigo (young boy acolytes) wearing Eboshi hats and Hitatare garments shoot twelve arrows that represent twelve months of the year. This is an augury for the climate and harvest of the year. If an arrow hits the mark, they will have a good weather, and if an arrow misses the mark, they will have a strong wind. The archery augury by the cute boys gets a favorable reputation that it is accurate.
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2008/2/19


御上神社 Mikami-jinja Mikami Shrine

Jp En

Mikami Shrine enshrines Mt. Mikami or popularly called Omi-Fiji, a 432 m conical mountain in Shiga Prefecture, and Amenomikage no Kami, the guardian deity of old Omi province and the deity of blacksmith and blade smith.

The main hall constructed in the Kamakura period (1192-1333) is a very unique building in the style called Mikami-zukuri, in which the architectural styles for shrines, temples and residences are combined together. The Buddhism architectural style can be seen in its 3-bay structure, the Irimoya-zukuri roof, white walls and lattice windows. As one of the oldest shrine building in the Irimoya-zukuri style, it was designated as a National Treasure in 1952. The Haiden Hall (oratory), the main gate, the main hall of an attached shrine, Wakamiya Shrine, and the wooden Chinese dog are nationally designated as Important Cultural Properties.

Zuiki Festival is held at this shrine in the middle of October every year. The word “zuiki” means the stem of a taro potato. Every year five Mikoshi (portable shrine), which are made of zuiki and decorated with vegetables, persimmon leaves and chestnuts, are dedicated to the shrine to express gratitude for the year’s crop.
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2007/11/29


かるい Karui Karui Bamboo Basket

Jp En

Karui, made from woven bamboo, is a basket used to carry things on one’s back.  They have been used in the Miyazaki Prefecture to carry grains, mushrooms, manure and other things needed for farm work.
The bamboo used to make karui baskets is “madake bamboo”, which grows wild all over Japan. The bamboo used for the body of the basket is woven with six strands and the “masubushi” weave is applied to finish the edge.  Karui is a useful item made from all natural materials.
These baskets have an upside-down triangular pyramid shape which doesn’t allow the basket to sit on a flat surface easily. Although the baskets are unstable on level ground, they sit well on steep, mountainous hills.  The wisdom of this design was gained from living in deep mountainous regions.
Today, karui are used, not only as baskets for transporting things, but also as interior decorations such as vases, letter holders or newspaper racks.  They remain much loved by many people.
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2007/11/13


切妻造 Kirizuma-zukuri The Kirizuma-zukuri Style

Jp En

The Kirizuma-zukuri style is one of Japanese traditional architectural styles, especially said of the styles of roofs. Japanese roofs are classified into any one of the three representative styles; Kirizuma (gable roof), Yosemune (hip roof) and Irimoya (hip-and-gable roof).

The ends of buildings with gable roofs have a triangular space (gable) made by the incline of the two sides of the roof. Seen from the gable side, the wall looks as if it was cut by the roof; hereby it is called Kirizuma, which literally means “a cut gable.”

The Kirizuma-zukuri style was a basic architectural style in ancient Japan. The gable roof was prized most highly during the Kofun period (3rd-6th centuries), when it was the symbol of the residences of powerful rulers. However, in the Nara period (710-794), when the Yosemune-zukuri style (with hip roof) was introduced from China, it was considered more sophisticated because extension of the roof was apparently recognized.

Later on, the Irimoya-zukuri style (with hip-and-gable roof) became most favored in the prestigious buildings such as palaces, noblemen’s residences and temples due to its combined features; the symbolic character of the Kirizuma style and the expansivity of the Yosemune style.
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2007/10/12


丹沢山 Tanzawa-san Mt. Tanzawa

Jp En

Mt. Tanzawa with an altitude of 1567 m is on the border of Sagamihara City, Kiyokawa-mura in Aiko-gun and Yamakita-cho in Ashigara-Kami-gun in Kanagawa Prefecture. It is a part of the Tanzawa Shumyaku (the great ridge) and a part of Tanzawa-Oyama Quasi-National Park. Being close to Tokyo metropolitan area, Mt. Tanzawa is thronged with hikers all through the year.

It is said that “Mt. Tanzawa” on the list of “Japan’s 100 Fine Mountains” includes not only Mt. Tanzawa but also other mountains rising in the central part of the Tanzawa mountain range, which used to be generically called “Tanzawa-san.” However, in the Meiji period (1868-1912), when a land survey was conducted, the triangulation point was placed at this mountain peak and the mountain was tentatively named Mt. Tanzawa. In time, people began to call this mountain alone “Mt. Tanzawa.”

The mountain is covered with the flowers of Yamazakura (Prunus jamasakura), Mitsuba-tsutsuji (Rhododendron dilatatum), Yamatsutsuji (Rhododendrom obtusum) and Shiroyashio (Rhododendron quinquefolium) in spring, Gakuutsugi (Hydrangea scandens), Japanese dogwood, Kobaikeisou (Veratrum stamineum), Yamayuri (Lilium auratumand) and lespedeza in the early summer, and autumn leaves in fall.
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2007/8/16


群馬 高津戸峡 Gunma Takatsudo-kyou Takatsudo Gorge

Jp En

Takatsudo Gorge (Midori City, Gunma Prefecture) extends along the Watarase River, which flows out of a mountain in Nikko. Referred to as “Yabakei in Kanto,” There are many monstrous or oddly-shaped rocks such as Gorilla Rock, Skelton Rock and Pot Hole Rock and deep pools including Isegafuchi Pool.

The Hanetaki (Splashing Waterfall) Bridge is a footbridge, which looks triangular either seen from the front or from the side. As water splashing over the bridge looks like a waterfall, it was named so. 120 tiles with pictures of birds, fish and flowers were dedicated from all over the country and set in the bridge.

As the promenade is arranged along the river, a lot of hikers visit the gorge on weekends and enjoy its exquisite scenery. Tender green and autumn foliage are especially splendid.
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