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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2008/3/17


【気】 Ki Energy, Spirit, Atmosphere

Jp En

Its original character is 气. Again, the original character of 气 is 乞, the form of moving clouds. 気 can be thought of as the basic unit of energy, be it air, atmosphere, weather, vapor, or breathing.
In ‘Explanation of Common Use Kanji,’ the last character dictionary of Dr. Shirakawa, for the first time in his dictionaries, we find his explanation commenting on the vital role of 米 ‘rice’ nurturing 気 spirit or energy. By the way, also Jacob Chang-Ui Kim from Korea gave a similar view in his English explanation of Kanji.
Food is what supplies living beings with energy. Without eating, one cannot live and there is no vitality. From ancient times on, rice is the basic food and basis of energy in East Asia.
The upper part of 気 can also be thought of as the rising steam from rice boiling, and it therefore may even be regarded as a pictograph. In Japanese, 気 came to be used in a lot of expressions describing human feelings and states of mind. In East Asia as a whole, it has become the basis of martial arts culture built on the importance of breathing techniques, as Chinese shadow boxing and Aikidō.
In ancient Greek philosophy, with ‘pneuma,’ there is a very similar notion. The Stoa, a classic school of thought that commends pantheism and a life style following the laws of nature, taught that ‘pneuma,’ the most fine matter like air, is the carrier of ‘logos,’ or world reason, extant everywhere in the universe. In this sense, 気 is (was) a common way of thinking in East and West.
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2008/2/18


キセル Kiseru Kiseru

Jp En

Kiseru is an old style Japanese smoking pipe. Kiseru were used for smoking flake tobacco, but some use for smoking a cigarettee or others for a half-cut cigarettee recently. The word kiseru comes from the Khmer word “ksher.”

Kiseru were invented in Japan in the 16th century, when the Portuguese came to Japan for the Nanban trade after the arrival of guns. The origin of kiseru making is not clear but it is said that Japanese craftsmen began to make kiseru by modeling after smoking pipes the Portuguese were using.

In the Edo period (1603-1868), when flake tobacco were extremely popular, kiseru were indispensable items for tobacco smokers. The kiseru was a kind of a status symbol and a fancy accessory. There were many kiseru in different sizes, length and shapes and of different materials. Tobacco smokers had their own favorite kiseru according to their finaccial positions. However, since extravagance was prohibited by the Tokugawa shogunate, only warriors, wealthy merchants, and prostitutes were allowed to use kiseru until the end of the Edo period.
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2008/1/29


【卜】 Boku Divination, Auguration

Jp En

This character is the form of a crack deliberately added on a tortoise plastron or animal bone in order to divine before the tortoise plastron and bone characters are inscribed. The backside of the tortoise plastrons or animal bones being the divination material is dug and made flat, creating a hole to which an iron stick is applied. The character form shows the figure of the crack appearing on the opposite side.
Among the variant forms of 卜, this form is regarded as lucky or auspicious. The traditional name of the vertical line is 千里 ‘senri: thousand Ri (1 Ri is 3.9 km)’ and the horizontal line is called 坼 ‘taku: split, crack.’ When the ‘taku’ line is crooked halfway, it gets the meaning of ill (bad) luck. 卜 also is one of the characters indicating that the luck – bad luck alternative is a central way of thinking in Oriental culture. Among the animal bones the shoulder blades of oxen, the horns and skulls of deer, the rips and others of female rhinoceroses and the skulls of prisoners of war were used. Regarding tortoise plastrons there are two, the belly plate and the carapace; 甲, the character of the belly shell or plastron shows the flat, square belly plate, the plastron. As the back shell or carapace was seldom inscribed, this can rarely be seen. As the back shell is round and very hard, it is quite difficult to dig a hole in it for producing a divination crack.
As in ‘Western’ Kanji research not the correct ‘tortoise plastron and bone writing,’ but generalized wording like ‘tortoise shell or carapace’ not naming the plastron is used for the translation of 甲骨文 ‘Kōkotsubun,’ the original form or correct image usually is not conveyed clearly. One reason for this is that the character 甲 which originally shows the tortoise plastron is mainly used in compounds like 甲羅 ‘Kōra: tortoise shell’ and 亀甲 ‘Kikkō: tortoise shell, carapace.
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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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2007/11/19


【哲】 Tetsu Wise, Sagacious

Jp En

The upper part of this character now is 折 (‘oru: to break off, to bend’), in the previous character forms, however, it is considerably different. 斥 is the form of an ax, 扌, however, in this case, does not mean a hand. That the ax is used with the hands is common sense and does not have to be mentioned in full detail. Here, it shows the object being made with the ax.
Like at the Itsukushima Shrine on Miyajima, there are so called god ladders to be used by the Kami (gods) when ascending to and ascending from heaven. It is a wooden ladder as one often finds at sacred places in China. The扌 of the upper part of 哲 is a god ladder and shows the making of a gods ladder with an ax. As the 口 of the lower part is a receptacle for putting in ‘norito’ prayer writings, this character represents the heart and mental state when welcoming the gods. Therefore, since antiquity it had the meanings ‘akiraka: clear’ and ‘kenmei: wise.’ This adjective was also often used for kings. There also is the character form with 心 ‘heart’ instead of the 口 ‘norito’ prayer receptacle which in a representative ancient dictionary is defined as having the meaning of “It is 敬 ‘Kei: reverence’.” The Zhu Xi school (in Japan ‘Shushigaku’) which exerted profound influence on East Asian thought for hundreds of years and became the political thought and philosophy of the Japanese Tokugawa government from the 17th to the 19th century had made 敬 the guiding principle. The meaning of this character 敬 thus is defined as identical with this previous character form of 悊.
Also, long before this, there was the variant character form 喆 (tetsu). Based on the dictionary Shuō Wén Jiě Zì, Setsumon Kaiji (Explanation of Simple Graphs and Analysis of Complex Characters) from the later Han period, Dr. Shirakawa also introduces the equivalent 嚞 made up of three 吉.
left: bronze inscription
right: so called Old Script from the Shuō Wén Jiě Zì
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2007/11/5


小豆島大孔雀園 Shoudoshima-kujaku-en Shodoshima Peacock Garden

Jp En

Shodoshima Peacock Garden is a bird garden located near Ikeda Harbor on Shodoshima Island in Kagawa Prefecture. As many as about 1,000 peacocks stroll on the ground of the garden. Peacocks, or to say correctly “peafowl,” are the birds in the pheasant family, mainly inhabiting in China and the southeastern Asia. Peafowl are most notable for the male's extravagant display feathers, which are flared out to get the female’s attention.

We rarely see peafowl flying, but in this peacock garden, visitors used to enjoy the Peacock Flying Show, in which a unit of peafowl few away and back in time to the music. It was said that there was no place in the world that could rival in training such a large number of peafowl. However, the show has been discontinued since 2003.

You can also see flamingoes and many other rare birds collected from all over the world. There is also an aquarium offering a panoramic view of fish next to the bird garden. This is a suitable place for a family vacation.
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2007/10/15


【美】 Bi The Character for Beauty

Jp En

The character 羊 shows the form of a 'sheep.' It can often be seen as an element in Kanji. The reason for this is that in antiquity sheep were often used in rites. 'Sheep' stands out among Kanji with abstract meanings like 善 'good,' 美 'beauty,' and 義 'justice.' The character 'bi' 美 ('beauty') shows the whole body of a sheep. While 羊 shows the upper part of a sheep including the horns, in 美, its lower body including the hind legs are added. A person who possessed sheep was already considerably wealthy.

In the world of polytheism one tries to receive the favor of gods by beautiful and precious offerings. It was believed that offering a dog to the highest god was most effective. Offers to receive godly favor became especially important at the time of trials. As trials took the form of an ordeal by the gods, both parties submitted a sheep to be variously tested by the gods.

The origin of Shirakawa Kanji science follows the idea that characters were formed and developed as a means of communication between gods and man. From this standpoint, beauty has to be acceptable to the gods, or warranted by the gods. Interestingly, the Biblical idea of offering a sheep to God can also be found in Gospel St John 1, 29 and I Corinthians 1, 7.
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