Kazan Shrine located at the ruins site of Demaru (the outermost compound) of Tahara Castle in Tahara City, Aichi Prefecture is a shrine enshrining Watanabe Kazan, a Japanese painter, scholar and the senior councilor of the Tahara domain in the late Edo period (1603-1868).
The local people planned to build a shrine to honor Kazan’s virtuousness in 1941; however, as it was during World War II, they could not commence the construction. In 1946, they bought a temporary pavilion used for a shrine in Inasa Town in Shizuoka Prefecture and founded Kazan Shrine at the present site. The shrine pavilion was destroyed by Ise Bay Typhoon in 1959 and reconstructed later.
Born at Kamiyashiki (the main resident) of the Tahara domain in Edo in 1793, he first served the domain lord’s little son at the age of eight. He started to learn Confucianism of Mencius and Zhu Xi at the age of 13 and became a great scholar in Confucianism as well as Rangaku (Western learning), from which it is believed that the one who visits this shrine will be able to improve his /her learning ability.
On the memorial day of Kazan on October 11, the annual festival is held at this shrine. The memorial service is held in front of Kazan’s grave located in Johoji Temple in the city and the Shinto ritual is performed at Kazan Shrine. Kazan’s portrait is drawn on the Ema-plates provided at the shrine.
The paint brush known as hake has been used since ancient times. According to some documents dating back to Heian period, feathers from millet plants were used to paint lacquer onto such things as bowls and bows and arrows.
Edo Hake was an important tool and played a vital role for Edo-influenced artisans from various fields. The word, Edo Hake, first appeared in a product guide book called “Mankin-sugiwai-bukuro”, published in the middle of Edo period. In the book, Edo Hake was introduced as a brush to apply glue for mounting. There are seven kinds of brushes that are designated as Edo Hake: Kyouji Hake, Senshoku Hake, Ningyou Hake, Urushi Hake, Mokuhan Hake, Oshiroi Hake and Tosou Hake.
Modern Edo Hake now uses human hair and animal hair such as horse, deer and goat as well as plant fibers from box tree and hemp palm. Because many hairs are curly to some degree and contain oil, both of which prevent craftsmen from attempting subtle work, a good part of the production process is dedicated to strengthening the hair and eliminating grease from the hair.
The most vital part of the brush is the edge of the hair which is evaluated for its evenness and firmness. It is an essential job for the brush makers to make a careful examination in selecting the best materials.
Hayashiya Kikuou, a rakugo storyteller, was born in 1937, Tokyo. Kikuzou first studied under Katsura Mikisuke III, an established rakugo storyteller. However, when Mikisuke passed away in 1961, Kikuzou went on to become a pupil of Hayashiya Shouzou X III and named himself Hayashiya Kikuzou. In 1972, he was promoted to become “shin’uchi” and made his official debut as an independent storytelling performer. In 1965, he became a regular star on “Shouten”, a popular television program. He is also the chairman of the National Ramen Noodle Party and a member of trustees of the Rakugo Association. In 2007, he handed his name to his eldest son and gave himself a different name, Kikuou.
Hayashiya Kikuzou was born in 1975, Tokyo. He graduated from the Department of Performing Arts at Tamagawa University. He studied under his father, Hayashiya Kikuzou. In 1996, he became “zenza”, meaning he was allowed to perform on the stage for the first time, and named himself Hayashiya Kikuo. In 2007, he was promoted to “shin’uchi” and became Hayashiya Kikuzou II.
Together Hayashiya Kikuou and Kikuzou launched a performing tour to celebrate their double name-taking ceremony starting at Suzuki Performing Center at Ueno, Tokyo, in 2007. It was an unprecedented occurrence for a pupil to take on his master’s name while the master was still alive.
“Even for rakugo which is a rather gentle performing art, it is essential to be assertive and think outside of the box, and not just maintain the tradition”, says both Hayashi. It is evident that they thrive on developing rakugo, finding new ways of working while keeping its tradition alive.
Akagi Shrine in Fujimi-mura, Seta-gun, Gunma Prefecture is a historic shrine, which has been the center of mountain worship to Mt. Akagi. The enshrined deities are Akagi Daimyojin (the spirit of Mt Akagi), Okuninushi no Mikoto, Iwatsuo no Kami, Iwazume no Kami and Futsunushi no Kami. It is one of the shrines that are presumed to have been Kozuke-koku Ninomiya (the second-ranked shrine in Kozuke province).
The foundation time of the shrine is unknown because Mt. Akagi and its caldera lakes had been worshipped since the ancient times. The shrine was relocated from the mountainside of Mt. Akagi to the southern side of Lake Onuma in 806, the first year of Daido (大同) era. Then the village where the shrine is located was named Daido (大洞) after the era name and the shrine came to be known as Daido Akagi Shrine. With patronage from the Tokugawa Shogunate in the Edo period (1603-1868), the shrine had many branch shrines all over the Kanto region.
The torii gate erected at the start of a trail up Mt. Akagi was dedicated by the nearby villagers. The main hall was constructed in 1642 by the order of the 3rd Shogun Tokugawa Iemitsu. In 1970, the main hall was dismantled and reconstructed when the shrine was relocated to the present place.
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.
Genroku Bouze Dance, or Genroku Buddhist Monk Dance, is dedicated to the deity of Itsukushima-jinjya Shrine located in Minashiro Miyanokubi, Shintomi-cho, Yuyu-gun, Miyazaki Prefecture, and is performed annually on August 15th according to the lunar calendar. The dance is designated as an intangible folklore cultural asset by the town.
Genroku Bouze Dance has been passed down since Muromachi Period in four neighboring areas of the town; Miyanokubi, Hiraikura, Yadoko and Oku. During the rule of Takanabe Akizuki Clan, the dance was performed as part of the festival dedicated to the water god mainly at Hiokimizunuma-jinjya Shrine which was associated with the clan.
The dancers consist of more than five groups of three people, a monk, a man and a bride as well as singers, drums and clappers accompanying them.
The dance celebrates a rich harvest, and there is a storytelling element where a man and his bride are dancing together happily, a monk tries to cut in between them and get in the way. It contains the theme of human drama which became popular at the end of Edo Period.
Genroku Bouzu Dance is a folk art that has a long history passed on through the generations.
Kawagoe Festival, which takes place every October in Kawagoe City, Saitama Prefecture, is a majestic festival with 350 years of history.
Kawagoe had a prosperous trading relationship with Edo, present day Tokyo having Shinkawagishi River as a vital shipping route, and was once called “Ko-Edo”, or little Edo. Kawagoe Festival is known as an important religious event that carries on the traditional Edo style festival to this day.
Its origin dates back to 1648 when Matsudaira Isunokami Nobutsune, the lord of Kawagoe Clan at the time, presented gifts of a portable shrine, the head of a Shishi lion, and drums amongst other items, to Hyoukawa Shrine, the head shrine of Kawagoe, at the shrine’s festival.
The most popular attraction of the festival is “Hikkawase” in which all twenty-nine portable shrines, made by craftsmen in Edo and Kawagoe, compete performing music and dance when they pass each other parading through the town. It’s an energetic performance with an upbeat tempo, and performers’ lively shouts generate great excitement leading up to the climax. Most of the portable shrines are lacquered black and red colors with some gold in parts. They are decorated with detailed sculptures carved on keyaki trees. Ten of those shrines were made during the Taisho period and are designated as tangible folklore cultural assets by Saitama Prefecture.
Edo kiriko is a glass-cutting handicraft that began in the late Edo period. The origin of this craft dates back to 1834, when a craftsman, Kagaya Hisabe, first created a new technique of cutting glass with powdered emery.
In the late Edo period, transparent lead glass (crystal glass) was the main glass material used for this craft. The patterns were familiar ones seen on kimonos, such as bamboo fencing, chrysanthemums and hemp.
Now, many Edo kiriko pieces are made using faded glass. The layer of colored glass is thin and vivid.
In 2002, Edo kiriko was designated as a Traditional Handicraft by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry