NIPPON Kichi - 日本吉

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2008/3/17


【誠】 Sei Sincerity

Jp En

This character cannot be seen among the tortoise plastron, bone, or bronze inscription characters but from the Tenbun (Zhuàn Wén) seal script on. Certainly, it can be divided into a left and right part. It, however, would be too rash to jump to an A+B style mathematical explanation. Dr. Shirakawa summarizes: “The meaning is to realize an oath.”
Rather than a mere superficial interpretation like that of a 言 ‘kotoba: word’ that 成る ‘naru: realizes,’ one has to take the customs and religion of ancient China into consideration here. As was pointed out in the explanation of 信, the 口 of the lower part 言 is a vessel for putting in prayer writings. The meaning of the upper part with its four horizontal lines is hard to understand from the form of the Common Use Kanji. Its original form and meaning has to be understood in the context of the tattoo and ritual body painting culture. It shows the form of an instrument, a needle with a handle for tattooing. Already this part 言 only has the meaning of words of oath to the gods.
The part 成 shows the form of the ritual of completion performed after the making of a 戈 ‘hoko: halberd’ is finished, adding a decoration. This means that the left and right character parts have their origin in religion.
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2007/12/20


【寛】 Kan Tolerance, Leniency

Jp En

This character is a so-called compound ideograph. What regards the upper part 宀 (ukanmuri: roof classifier) which can be seen also in a lot of other characters, it does not simply show a roof, but is the roof of a mausoleum. This character points at the basis of Asian religious culture, the custom of memorial service for the ancestors and ancestor worship. One key to the long period of peace that can be seen in Asian history thus is included in this Kanji. By thinking about the favors received from the ancestors, it is possible to endure the hardships of human life and one becomes wide-hearted and more broad-minded. When recalling one’s ancestors with their different ways of thinking and life philosophy, one becomes more tolerant regarding people leading diametric opposite lives and holding completely different opinions in the present, and the essence of human life shows.
The lower part is a priestess or shrine maiden engaged in a ritual in the mausoleum. Shintō, the indigenous religion of Japan also often has rituals with shrine maidens inspired when in religious frenzy. In such a state, the priestess gets relaxed and conveys a divine message. The appearance of the priestess or shrine maiden at this time stresses her eyes with what in the character form of the Common Use Kanji looks like a grass-classifier but actually is a curse decoration. Both, the minds and hearts of the family taking part in the ritual as well as the relaxed conduct of the priestess or shrine maiden contribute to the meaning of the character.
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2007/1/31


唐招提寺(世界遺産) Toshodai-ji Toshodaiji Temple

Jp En

Toshodaiji Temple was established by a Chinese monk called Ganjin and is the headquarters of the Risshu Buddhist sect in Nara Prefecture.

Ganjin was invited to Japan by Shomu Emperor but he failed his sea trip five times and suffered from many troubles like losing his eyes. 12 years later, he finally arrived in Japan.

After staying at Todaiji Temple in Nara for five years, in the third year of the Tenpyo-hoji period (759), he was offered the former residence of Nitabe Shinno. He had Toshodaiji built as a training place to study Buddhist commandments.

Later his image was sculpted as a atatue and has been preserved in Miei-do. The statue is the oldest figure of its type and is a National Treasure.

At Toshodaiji, there are many valuable Buddhist buildings such as Golden Building, the only Tenpyo one existing now, and the ruin of Heijo-kyu. In 1989, the temple was designated as a World Heritage site and as one of the cultural assets of Nara, the old capital.
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2007/1/26


仙の岩 Sen-no-iwa Sen-no-iwa Rock

Jp En

Sen-no-Iwa Rock and Kyushuhou, or 'the Blue Tunnel', are a representative group of Yamataikoku rock scenery. Kengadake Rock is especially famous for its massive and imposing size. The soaring rock appears like mountain scenery in a traditional ink painting.

This area is also where mountain religion is practiced and there are holy rocks and temples on the sheer 100m-high cliffs. At first, the area was known as Sen-no-iwa ('mountain hermit rock') because in ancient times, a mountain hermit from India dwelled here.

Sen-no-iwa rock looks impossible to climb; yet people ascend to the peak from where there are views of Mt Yufu and Tsurumi. Also, in spring, the scene of cherry blossoms in the small park is unforgettable.
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2007/1/24


最上稲荷 Saijo-inari Saijo Inari Shrine

Jp En

Saijo Inari Shrine is one of the three most famous Inari shrines in the country, and is a noted Buddhist shrine for prayer. The shrine is located in Okayama, Okayama Prefecture, a city famous for its picturesque views of the Kibi Plains.

The shrine was built around 1200 years ago by Houon Daishi. The main building of the shrine suffered losses from fire when Toyotomi Hidetoshi attacked the Bichuu Takamatsu Castle during the Warring States period. Yet, since the patron deity of the shrine was hidden under the building in a secret compartment 8 tatamis large, and covered by rock slabs, it was kept safe from harm.

Since that time, the patron deity became famous across the country for its miraculous efficacy, drawing the faith of the masses. The deity is famous for answering prayers for success in business, traffic safety, and for increased scholastic ability. Every March during the Hatsuuma Festival, the shrine overflows with people who have come to pray for luck and good health.
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