NIPPON Kichi - 日本吉

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2008/8/19


和太鼓集団 GOCOO Wadaiko-syuudan gokuu Japanese Taiko Drum Group “GOCOO”

Jp En

GOCOO (pronounced gokuu) is a Japanese Taiko Drum band that, while playing more than 40 Japanese drums, creates the sound and beat of mother earth. The band consist of 7 female and 4 male members who generate their original sound that cannot simply be categorized as traditional, folk or rock music. The sound is more primitive and trance-like and it is beyond nationality and music genre. The core of the band is its leader, Kaori Asano, who possesses the enchanting power of a modern shaman.
Ms. Asano brings her sticks down with full power as she swings her long hair as in a shishi lion dance.
Ms. Asano has said: “On stage, there comes a moment when daily affairs are stripped down to nothing but “love” and “gratitude” - the most genuine feelings of our souls.  I think this must be what was originally intended by the idea of having a “festival”.   I am often told that I am expressing something new but in truth, the newest things are intimately connected with the oldest things”
  The band was formed in 1997 and GOCOO is highly regarded in Japan as well as in other countries.  They have performed more than 100 shows abroad, including Europe. Their music was used in the movie, Matrix. GOCOO also performed their music at the opening of the Earth Summit in 2008 as an Asian representative.  
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2007/8/10


大名行列 Daimyou-gyouretsu Daimyo’s Procession

Jp En

The 3rd Shogun of the Tokugawa Shogunate systematized “sankin kotai (alternate attendance)” by including it in Buke Shohatto (Laws for the Barons) in order to maintain the shogunate system. Basically, sankin kotai was a military service to the shogun, by which it required daimyo of every feudal domain to reside every other year in Edo and to leave their wives, children, and many retainers in Edo permanently as hostages. A daimyo’s procession occurred when a daimyo went to and from Edo.

The number of people that joined the procession and its detailed formation were set up in accordance with the assessment (by koku of rice) of the daimyo’s domain. As is seen in Japanese samurai movies, the procession goes with the usher calling “Shitani! Shitani!,” who was followed by m a factotum, couriers carrying hasamibako (briefcase) and soldiers with keyari (a haired pike), bows and guns, footsoldiers, men srvants of daimyo, the daimy in a palanquin, chief retainer, women servants and couriers carrying nagamochi (trunks).

According to one record, the procession of the Kaga domain, which boasted the largest kokudaka (the production of land assessed by koku of rice) in the Edo period, was composed of as many as 2,500 people. In the early Edo period, many daimyo seemed to enjoy the processions as occasions for displaying their wealth and status. However, it gradually became simplified due to the financial strains on daimyos.
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2007/7/20


武田双雲 TakedaSouun Souun Takeda

Jp En

Souun Takeda, a calligrapher, was born in 1975 in Kumamoto. He started calligraphy when he was three years old, studying with his mother, Souyou Takeda, also a calligrapher.

After graduating from Tokyo University of Science majoring in Science and Technology, he worked at NTT for three years before he became a calligrapher. Since then, he has established himself through a series of unique and original pieces, often collaborating with other artists in various fields including Noh and Kyougen actors, sculptors and musicians, and unconventional one-man exhibitions.  He also runs a calligraphy school where many of his students study. “Calligraphy is the same as a conversation. I just use calligraphy to communicate with people”, says the gentle but passionate Mr. Takeda, who is hailed as the new generation of calligraphy.

In 2003, Mr. Takeda received the Longhuacui Art Award from Shanghai Art Museum in China and the Constanza de Medici Award in Firenze, Italy. His work includes title letterings for many movies such as Spring Snow and Year One in the North. He also published three books; Tanoshika,  Shoyudou and Sho o kaku tanoshimi.
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2007/6/7


駅前の歴史的建物群 Ekimae-no-rekishitekitatemonogun Groups of Historic Buildings in front of Mashike Station

Jp En

There is a district lined with historic buildings made of wood or stone in front of Mashike Station of Rumoi Line in Mashike-cho, Mashike-gun, Hokkaido. The district is the only place with these historic buildings in the northern part of Hokkaido. The old residence and shop of the Honma family, a wealthy merchant who had been running a shop “Maruichi Honma Shoten” since the Meiji period (1868-1912), Mashikekan Inn, which was built in the early Showa period (1926-1989), Tada General Store, which became famous as Kazemachi Shokudo Restaurant in the movie “Eki, STATION” first run in 1981, and Itsukushima Shrine built in the middle of the Edo period (1603-1868) continue along the street from the station to the central part of the town. Mashike Elementary School standing on a hill is an only existing wooden school building in Hokkaido. Though it was built in 1936, the school building is still used by cheerful school children and loved by graduated students and local people.
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2007/6/4


瀬田・石山の清流 Seta Ishiyama no seiryuu Seta, Ishiyama’s Clear Stream

Jp En

   Seta, Ishiyama’s Clear Stream refers to a particular view of the Seta river; Seta river runs through Shiga Prefecture's Otsu city.  This is one of the 8 great views of Biwa Lake.  The flowing Seta River, lit up by the rays of a setting sun, forms a backdrop for the Kara Bridge, one of the three major Japanese bridges.  
   Historically, this so-called ‘Seta’s evening sunlight’ has been an especially popular sight among Shiga's famous views.  It is famed as one of the Omi Hakkei (Eight Views of Omi) of Ando Hiroshige.  Another famous view in the area that appears in many literary works and Ukiyoe paintings is ‘Ishiyama’s Moon in Autumn'.
Even now, an old-fashioned houseboat is popular among sightseers.  You can enjoy the unique beauty of all four seasons at Ishiyama temple or along the Seta river; in the Spring, cherry blossoms, during early Summer, azalea, in peak Summer, cool breezes, in Autumn, fall foliage, and in the Winter, a snowy landscape.
  The many boats and canoes that now congregate near the Kara Bridge creates scenary very different from the Ukiyoe that Hiroshige painted.  However, the scene of boats passing by the bridge in the evening is still quite beautiful, much like a scene straight out of a movie.
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2007/1/25


城東の町並み Joto-no-machinami The Old Joto Area

Jp En

The Tsuyama Basin in Okayama Prefecture was once a prosperous area through which the old Izumo Way passed. On the eastern side of the basin was a post station known today as the Joto area.

On the streets of the Joto area, which has been designated for preservation by the prefecture, are old stores selling sake, paper and knives for example. The old Izumo Way passes for about a kilometer through the town from Tsuyama castle ruin, following an east-west route. The road is built using a style called 'kaimagari', which is maze-like for defence purposes.

The houses are distinguished by their low fronts with lattice doors and 'sea-cucumber' walls and recall the atmosphere of an old town. The highlight of a visit here is the Joto Mukashi Machi (Kyu-Kajimurake) area, which consists of buildings dating from the Edo to the Taisho periods. The Sakushu Joto Yashiki is a traditional fire-watchtower that gives an insight into historic methods of fire prevention. Joto is also famous as the location of the movie series 'Otoko wa Tsurai yo' and the drama 'Aguri'.
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2007/1/16


小杉の大杉 Kosugi-no-oosugi Small-Cedar's Big Cedar

Jp En

Big Cedar is a tree in Small-Cedar district, and is near the village of Sakegawa, in Mogami County, Yamagata prefecture.

Although the great cedar tree might look like a couple of trees, it is in fact a single tree standing among paddy fields. Its base is 6.3m in circumference and it is 20m tall. It is said to be more than 1000 years old.

Because it has two big trunks, it is also called the 'Couple Cedar' or 'Marriage-Tie Cedar'. In addition, owing to its resemblance to a tree seen in the movie, 'Tonari-no-Totoro', it has lately gained more fame and come to be called 'Totoro's tree'.

The tree is venerated by the village and a mountain deity has been enshrined at its base.

Usually, a cedar tree tends to grow narrow and high in order to get more sunshine and survive. But, because there has been nothing other than rice fields around the tree, it has leisurely spread out to receive much sunshine.
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2007/1/11


三日月 Mikazuki Mikazuki (The Crescent Moon)

Jp En

Mikazuki, the crescent moon, is written in Japanese as the 'moon of the third day'. The dictionary describes mikazuki as 'the narrow arch-shaped moon that appears on the third day of the lunar calendar'.
   The Chinese pictogram for the word month uses the shape of the moon, and the traditional calendar for Japan followed the cycle of the moon. The progress of each month and each day could be tracked according to the moon's shape. Because the calendar followed the moon, mikazuki appears on the calendar.
   Mikazuki-shaped motifs can be seen frequently: on fonts and movie posters, company logos and trademarks of dramas. Why is mikazuki so popular? It might be for this reason: the full moon is a neat circle, while the half moon lacks a sense of design, therefore the mikazuki might be the best.
   Sometimes we wonder if we could just go to our closest object in space, the moon, once in our lifetime.
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