NIPPON Kichi - 日本吉

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2007/12/3


四天王寺 どやどや Shitennouji Doyadoya Shitennou-ji Doya-doya Festival

Jp En

Shitennou-ji Temple, located in Tennouji-ku, Osaka City, Osaka, is the head temple of Wa Shuu or Japanese Buddhist sect.  The principal image of Buddha is Guse Kanzeon Bosatsu. The temple is a part of Kansai Kannon Pilgrimage, the 25th temple of Settsukoku Pilgrimage and the first temple of Shoutoku Taishi Reiseki Temples.
Shitennou-ji is an ancient temple built by Shoutoku Taishi on the first year of Emperoro Suiko era (593).
Doya-doya Festival is said to date back to 827 when Shushoue, a New Year’s memorial service, first took place, and is counted as one of the Big Three Strange Festivals in Japan.  
  Shushoue, which starts on New Year’s Day, is dedicated to good luck for the year and to pray for world peace and rich harvests. Doya-doya Festival takes place on January 14th, the final day of Shushoue.
The festival is a majestic soul-stirring event in which young men who are divided into white and red groups and wearing only headbands and clad in loincloth strive to grab an amulet called gohei.  The name, Doya-doya, came from a Japanese expression of a big crowd gathering noisily.
Even now Shitennou-ji Doya-doya is still a very well attended thriving traditional religious festival.
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2007/11/12


伊崎の竿飛び Isaki-no-saotobi Izaki Pole Diving

Jp En

Izaki Pole Diving is a Buddhist rite held on the 1st Sunday of August every year at Izaki Temple in Shirao Town in Omihachiman City, Shiga Prefecture. Izakiji Temple located at the tip of the small peninsula protruding into Lake Biwa is a temple belonging to the Tendai sect. It is said that the temple was founded in the Teikan era (859-877) by Priest Gyoki.

Pole Diving is a Buddhist rite, in which people dive into Lake Biwa from a 13 meter pole that sticks out under a cliff about 7 meters above the water level of the lake. It is said that this rite dates back about 1,100 years ago, when Konryu Daishi of Mt. Hiei trained himself at this temple. He would often threw an empty bowl down to a fishing boat passing below the temple and asked fishermen for charity, and then he dived into the lake to retrieve it.

It is performed to pray for getting rid of bad luck and also testing for participants’ courage, which is a vestige of harsh ascetic training performed by Tendai monks. The spectators on fishing boats on the lake erupt into cheers and applause when gallant young men dive into the lake with splashes of water in the strong sunshine.
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2007/10/22


住吉の火祭り Sumiyoshi-no-hi-matsuri Sumiyoshi Shrine Fire Festival

Jp En

The fire festival is held on the 2nd Saturday of January every year at Sumiyoshi Shrine in Moriyama City in Shiga Prefecture. On the same day, another fire festival is held at Katsube Shrine in the city. Both are prefecturally designated as intangible folk cultural properties.

The festivals are based on the story dating back about 800 years. When Emperor Tsuchimikado fell into a critical condition, it turned out that the illness was caused by a huge centipede living in Mt. Mikami. Then Fujiwara no Hidesato shot three arrows at the same time and they hit the huge centipede. Its head fell into the precinct of Sumiyoshi Shrine, the body into Katsube Shrine and the tail onto the ground near Karahashi Bridge in Seta village. The parts of the body were burned down at the places they fell; hereby the festivals are held at the two shrines.

On the morning of the festival day, the Shinto ritual and the arrow shooting ceremony are held at the shrine. Then the huge straw torch is brought into the precinct by men in loincloth in the evening. The torch is about 6 m long and weighs about 40 kg.

The men set the fire to the torch and dance wildly around the blazing fire with the powerful calls of “Heiyu! Heiyu!” which means “May an illness be cured!”
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2007/10/17


勝部の火祭り Katsube-no-hi-matsuri Katsube Shrine Fire Festival

Jp En

The fire festival is held on the 2nd Saturday of January every year at Katsube Shrine in Moriyama City in Shiga Prefecture. On the same day, another fire festival is held at Sumiyoshi Shrine in the city. Both are prefecturally designated as intangible folk cultural properties.

Katsube Shrine is a historic shrine, which is said to have been founded in 649 by Mononobe no Sukune Hirokuni to enshrine his ancestry deity. During the Warring States period (1493-1573), the shrine thrived under the faithful protection from the Sasaki clan, the governor of Omi province and other powerful daimyos such as the Oda and Toyotomi clans.

At Katsube Shrine, 12 large straw torches in the shape of a huge centipede are provided in the shrine precinct. This is based on a story that, when Fujiwara no Hidesato launched an arrow, the body of a huge centipede fell down from the sky and he burned it down. The torch is about 6 m long and 40 cm in diameter.

After dedicating the offing including holy sake wine, sardine and tofu and offering a prayer to the deity, young men in loincloth receive the holy fire from the altar and set it to all the 12 torches at the same time. Then the men dance wildly around the blazing fire with the powerful calls of “Goyo! Hyoyo!” which means “May a headache be cured!”
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2007/9/27


隠岐武良祭風流 Oki-mura-matsuri-fuuryuu Oki Muramatsuri Furyu

Jp En

Oki Muramatsuri Furyu is held on October 19 every two years in Nakamura on Dogo, the main island of the Oki Islands in Shimane Prefecture. It is one of the three large festivals on the Oki Islands and prefecturally designated as an intangible folk cultural property.

The festival dates back to the early Kamakura period (1192-1333), when Sasaki Sadatsuna was appointed governor of Oki province. He transferred the gods of the sun and the moon from Omi province, his native country, and enshrined the god of the sun at Hachioji Shrine in Motoya and the god of the moon at Jorakuji Temple (later transferred to Ichinomori Shrine) in Nakamura. He, then, performed a festival in hope of a rich harvest by fusing the power of Yin and yang.

On the festival day, the processions carrying the gods leave the two shrines and head for the meeting place, where the ritual to unite the gods of the sun and the moon is performed. After that, various performances such as the salutation by Gyoji (sumo referee) wearing armors, Onmyo-douchi (the Yin-yang drum performance) by young men wearing makeup, Kozuma (the holy sumo tournament) by children and Urate, the sumo-dance by young men are dedicated one after another. The festival ends with the horseback archery. All are performed in accordance with ancient rituals, which make the spectators slip into delusion of seeing a history picture scroll.
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今津とんど祭 Imazu-tondo-matsuri Imazu Donto Festival

Jp En

Donto Festival is held on January 15 every year in the Imazu area in the southern end of Oki-Dogo Island. Donto, or Dondo in some districts, is the festival, in which ornaments for New Year’s Day are burned in the bon fire in hope of good health in the coming year. Donto Festival has been handed down in Imazu since the Heian period (794-1192).

Early in the morning on the festival day, people with colorful bags in their hands get together on the beach. They carefully put Ofuda (talismans) and New Year’s ornaments on the huge fire-stage called Donto, build up of bamboo poles. After a large streamer is put on the stage, piled straw is set on fire and burn up into a huge column of fire.

When the bamboo poles are burned down and fall into the sea, young men divided into East and West teams and wearing only loincloths dive into the frigid sea and struggle for the burned bamboo poles. At the end of the festival, the bamboo poles are carried to the houses that had blessed events in the previous year.
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2007/9/14


日向国一之宮都農神社夏祭り Hyuuga-no-kuni-ichinomiya-tsuno-jinja-natsu-matsuri The Summer Grand Festival of Tsuno Shrine

Jp En

The Annual summer festival of Tsuno Shrine in Tsuno Town, Miyazaki Prefecture, is held from August 1st to 2nd. As the festival of Hyugakoku-Ichinomiya Shrine (the highest-ranked shrine in ancient Hyuga Province), the festival has been so proudly handed down by the people of the town as to be said that even young people living in far-off cities never fail to come back to their hometown to join the festival.

On the first day of the festival, the parade of the huge mikoshi (portable shrine), which is said to be one of the few most magnificent mikoshi in the country in structure, size and decoration and weighs more than 300 kg, goes around the town with the powerful call of “Chosaina! Sora! Yare!” while the drummers on the four drum floats and two kids’ floats beat on the drums repeatedly.

The climax is Omiyairi (the returning of the mikoshi to the shrine) held on the second day. In the roaring sounds of drums, men carrying the heavy mikoshi come back into the shrine precinct, where Kenka-daiko (drum fight) is performed by the drum teams competing in showing off the valiance. The dynamic sounds of the drums fascinate the spectators.
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2007/8/29


関根神楽 Sekine-kagura Sekine Kagura

Jp En

Sekine Kagura is a traditional folk performing art handed down since the late Edo period (1603-1868) in Kitaura in Misato Town, Miyagi prefecture. The tradition was discontinued for some time after World War II, but it is presently preserved by Sekine Kagura Preservation Association. It is designated as an intangible folk cultural property of the town.

This kagura is characterized by its speedy and rhythmical movements. The repertoire is composed of three categories; Shinmaimono (sacred dances), Gunkimono (military epics) and Dokemono (comical plays).

It is said that Sekine Kagura was introduced to this area at the end of the Edo period by a young man named Zentaro, who came from the southern part of present Iwate Prefecture to work for Sasaki Hikonai, a brewer in Sekine Village. Zentaro, who was a good dancer of Numakura Kagura in the Kurikoma area in Iwate Prefecture, later got married to a woman in Sanbongi in Osaki City and contributed to the development of Iga Kagura there; hereby Sekine Kagura and Iga Kagura are called “Brother Kagura.”
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