NIPPON Kichi - 日本吉

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2008/3/5


武家造 Buke-zukuri Buke-zukuri

Jp En

Buke-zukuri is an architectural style used for residences of the bushi, warrior class, during Kamakura period.
Buku-zukuri is considered a simplified version of Shinden-zukuri which was a residence for aristocrats during Heian period. In Shinden-zukuri, a main building called shinden was built facing the south garden. In the east and west of the sinden were sub-buildings called tainoya which were connected to the shinden by corridors called wataridono. Each taiya building had another corridor toward the south to connect to another building called tsuridono, which literally means a fishing building, that formed a bridge over the pond of the garden. Buku-zukuri had a similar but much simpler style using a roof structure covered with boards or planks and wooden board flooring. It is also believed that the buke-zukuri house had a kind of castle like facility to protect itself from the outside. However, no such example has ever been found so details are not known. Thus, buke-zukuri is not commonly accepted as an original style.
Shoin-zukuri in Muromachi period was believed to be based on buke-zukuri. Kinkaku-ji Temple built in the early Muromachi period showing fine harmonious blends of three different architectural styles: shinden-zukuri on the first floor, buke-zukuri on the second floor and Zen Butsuden-zukuri on the third floor. The temple shows the transition of the style to shoin-zukuri which is more evident in Ginkaku-ji temple that was built later.
It should be noted that Buke-zukuri is sometimes confused with buke-yashiki in Edo period, but it is a completely different style.
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2008/3/4


紫雲石硯 Shiunseki-suzuri Shiunseki Inkstone

Jp En

Shiunseki  Suzuri or Shiunseki Inkstone is an inkstone produced in Ichinoseki City and Oofunado City of Iwate Prefecture  and is made from stone called Shiunseki that has a distinctive texture.
The origin of the inkstone dates back to Kamakura period when a monk who, on his travels, dropped by Chouan-ji Temple in Oofunado City and found a shiunseki stone at the bottom of a nearby river and used the stone as an inkstone. The monk later took the stone back to Kamakura and dedicated it to a Shogun at that time. With its beautiful looks, the inkstone was named Shiunseki (purple cloud) Inkstone.
Shiunseki stone is a schalstein extracted from soil more than 400 million years old from Kitakami mountain. The stone has a red-purplish color similar to azuki red beans. Also many of them have characteristic cloud-shaped patterns or greenish spots.
In addition to elegance and smoothness, the surface of the stone has fine and minute imperfections that allow ink-cake to be ground finely. These characteristics make Shiunseki stone the most suitable stone for inkstone.  
There was a time when mass production of machine made inkstone was widespread and handmade Shiunseki Inkstone making waned. However, after World War II, artisans began turning their attention back to the craft of hand making the stone. Shiunseki Inkstone is still now being produced with the same quality as its legend suggests.
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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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2007/11/15


古高鼓踊り Furutaka-ko-odori The Koodori Dance in Furutaka

Jp En

Koodori (drum dance) is dedicated at Daishogun Shrine in Furutaka Town in Moriyama City, Shiga Prefecture. It is a traditional folk performing art, prefecturally selected as an intangible folk cultural property.

In the Middle Ages, farmers often suffered droughts and offered prayers for rain by, in extreme cases, offering their beloved daughters as the sacrifice to the god. Koodori (drum dances) have their origin in the Dengaku Odori dances performed in hope or appreciation for rain during the Kamakura period (1192-1333). They are danced to the chants with distinctive tunes.

The Koodori dance in Furutaka Town also derives from Furyu dances, a boisterous dance that the townspeople in the Muromachi period (1336-1573) amused themselves, in that the dancers in flamboyant costumes dance to the Ohayashi music and chanting. It is said that the repertoire of Koodori in Furutaka comprises 19 traditional pieces. In one of the pieces that was revived recently, more than 50 dancers including handy drum players and “Gonbe,” who have referee's fans in their hands, dance in double circle around four chanters singing a traditional folk song.
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2007/10/31


一郷山城跡 Ichigousan-jyou-ato Ichigoyama Castle Ruins

Jp En

Ichigoyama Castle is located at the eastern peak of Mt. Ushibuse (491 m) in Yoshii-cho, Gunma Pref. It is said that the castle was built in the late Muromachi period (1336-1573) as an attached castle of Hirai Castle, which was resided by the Uesugi clan. Located at the top of such a high peak, the castle is thought to have been used as a base to send smoke signals during the Warring States period (1493-1573). The castle fell in 1563 by the attack of Takeda Shingen. It is presumed that several outer compounds separated by dry moats were constructed but there are almost no ruins remaining now. The area was arranged into Ushibuseyama Natural Park to provide citizens with recreation and relaxation. On the castle ruin stands a three-story mock donjon with a commercial museum of Yoshii-cho on the 1st floor, a historical museum on the 2nd floor, and an observatory on the 3rd floor, from which visitors can command a 360°panoramic view.
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2007/10/24


献上博多織 Kenjou-hakataori Kenjo Hakata Textiles

Jp En

Hakata Textiles is a traditional handicraft with a history of 700 years. The technique was first founded in this area in the Kamakura period. Later, during the Edo Period (1603-1867), Kuroda Nagamasa, the feudal lord of Chikuzen Province (presently Fukuoka prefecture), sent tributes (kenjo in Japanese) of Hakata textiles to the Shogunate, which led to the cloth also being called Kenjo Hakata and its geometric designs are called kenjo design.
There are 3 types of Kenjo-designs, each of which is characterized by the striped-patterns in the motif of Buddhist objects of tokko and hanazara. Hakata textiles are gusty but soft and flexible. Presently, there is a concern about the successors of these precious weaving techniques. Kisaburo Ogawa, the recognized authority on this technique, was designated as a holder of National Important Intangible Cultural Property in “Kenjo Hakata Textiles” in 2003. Now as a visiting professor at Department of Craft Art of Kyushu Sangyo University and a member of Hakata Textile Industrial Association, he is giving lectures at symposiums and talking at panel discussions held all over the country to help regeneration and development of this traditional handicraft.
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2007/10/12


馬場館 Baba-tate Baba-tate Castle

Jp En

Baba-tate Castle located in the town of Kamata, Hokota City, Ibaragi Pref. is one of Kamata Hakkan (eight secondary castles) of Kamata Castle built by Kamata clan in the early Kamakura period. As the name Baba (riding ground) shows, it used to be the riding ground of the main castle and adjacent Shingu Shrine. Each of the eight castles, which consist of Baba-tate, Fujiyama-tate, Hanawa-tate, Hahagai-yakata, Kanjochi-yakata, Odoue-yakata, Ryugaya-yakata, and Kanashiki-yakata, was resided by a powerful vassal of Kamata clan and functioned as the defense fort of the main castle. Baba-tate was in the shape of trapezoid, and it had a very simple early Middle-Age-typed structure. Now the main building was lost and only a part of the water moat and the earthwork remain at the present time.
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善福院 Zenpuku-in Zenpukuin Temple

Jp En

Zenpukuin Temple is an old and distinguished temple located in Kainan City, Wakayama prefecture. This temple was originally one of the five sub-temples of Kofukuji Temple, which was built in 1214 by the Zen priest Eisai. Kofukuji Temple, which was once a flourishing temple with the formal seven main buildings, fell into ruin with its sponsor having gone bankrupt. After that it was converted to Shingon Sect and repaired some of the buildings. In the Edo period, when the area became a part of the Kishu domain, it converted again to Tendai Sect. The three of the five sub-temples had remained until the Meiji period, but only Zenpukuin Temple remains to the present time. Shakamuni Hall in Yosemune-zukuri style (a square building) covered with a double hipped roofs and standing on the Ransekizumi podium (made of natural stones piled up in a random fashion) is designated as a National Treasure. Its Yosemune-zukuri style with a tile roof and the construction method using Heiko-darugi (rafters laid parallel to each other from the ridge) are considered as the typical examples of Zen architectural elements in the late Kamakura period, which can also be seen in Shariden at Engakuji Temple in Kamakura and Buddha Hall at Kozanji Temple in Yamaguchi.
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