NIPPON Kichi - 日本吉

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伊香保まつり Ikaho-matsuri Ikaho Festival

Jp En

Ikaho Festival is held from September 18 to 20 every year at Ikaho Shrine in Ikaho Town in Shibukawa City, Gunma Prefecture. The shrine was founded during the period of Empress Suiko (reigned 592-628). The enshrined deities are Onamuchi no Mikoto and Sukunahikona no Mikoto. The annual autumn festival has been held on September 19 since the shrine was ranked as a Myojin Taisha shrine (a grand shrine enshrines a high-ranked deity) on this day in 835.

Ikaho Town is known throughout the country as a hot spring town, where a flight of 365 stone steps connect every streets of the town. On the day of the festival, mikoshi (portable shrine) and Ikaho’s traditional barrel-shaped mikoshi are carried up the stone steps and offered before the shrine at the top. The sight of the mikoshi carriers bumping against each other in the narrow stone steps is really thrilling. Some of them are sometimes so strained that they tumble down the steps.

The festival is combined with Roka Festival, at which a Japanese tea ceremony is held in memory of a Meiji-period novelist Tokutomi Roka, who introduced this hot spring town in his most famous novel “Hototogisu (The Cuckoo)”.
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興禅院 Kouzen-in Kozenin Temple

Jp En

    Kozenin is the temple where Zenkai, famed for singlehandedly building the Ao-no-Domon (Blue Tunnel), became a priest.  His appearanced in the best-selling novel by Kikuchi Kan, 'Beyond Love and Hata' furthered his fame.
    In 1370, during the Muromachi period, Muchaku Zenshi founded Kozenin at the foot of Mt. Tsurumi (located in Beppu).  In 1469, the temple was moved to its present location.  There were 29 branch temples by that time.  In 1596, a big earthquake destroyed the temple, but just four years after, Hosokawa Tadaoki, the local feudal lord, rebuilt it.  Following that, three fires destroyed the wooden temple buildings.  In 1973,  another fire occurred and the next year, the main building and priests living quarters were rebuilt out of nonflammable materials.
    Kongo-rikishi statues stand on both sides of the gate, protecting the sacred space from enemies.  These statues bring an unique atmosphere to the area.  In addition to this pair of guardians, there are historical stone Buddha statues that are also worth seeing.  This entire area is surrounded by the peaceful calm of Yufuin's nature.
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甚平 Jinbei Jinbei

Jp En

Jinbei is a traditional Japanese clothing worn mostly by men during the summer. Jinbei sets consist of a top and matching shorts. The top falls to the hips and has straight sleeves. It ties closed with laces at the nack and both sides. Jinbei is usually made from hemp or cotton. In the old days only the top was worn like the present Haori jacket, so that the Jinbei is the abbriviation of Jinbei-baori. In one story it is said that Jinbei originates in sleeveless Jin-baori (over-vest) worn by samurai. Or in another story has it that a man named Jinbei invented this clothing. Jinbei is referred to in Tanizaki’s novel “Hansode Monogatari,” which is set in the town of Osaka, in which it is called “Hansode.” Recently products for women are being sold. Compared with Yukata, it does not get loose, so Jinbei is often favored for Bon dancing.
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青の洞門 Ao-no-doumon Ao-no-domon (Blue Tunnel)

Jp En

Ao-no-domon is a tunnel located at the foot of Mt. Kyoshuho on the Yamakuni River in Hon-yabakei-machi- Kiso, Nakatsu City, Oita Pref. About 250 years ago, the priest Zenkai, who dropped in at this place on his way traveling throughout the country, witnessed travelers and horses had difficulty or sometimes lost their lives in walking on a precarious path beside the steep cliff and decided to dig out a tunnel for safe traveling. He completed this tunnel with only a chisel and a hammer devoting as long as 30 years of his life. The tunnel has now a length of 342 m and has been improved for cars to run through. There traces of chiseling and a window for letting in the light still can be seen on the wall, from which we can infer the priest Zenkai’s strong will. His story is well known through Kan Kikuchi’s novel “Onshu no Kanata ni.” Later the toll was charged for passing the tunnel and it is said that this was the first toll road in Japan.
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犀川 Saigawa Sai River

Jp En

Sai River is a class B river that runs through Kanazawa, Ishikawa prefecture. The entire length of the river is 34.25km.

A poet and writer, Murou Saisei was born near the river. Sai of Saisei, who wrote the poem 'Sai River' is said to have come from Sai River.

There are two beautiful rivers in Kanazawa: Asano River in the north and Sai River in the south. Izumi Kyoka mentioned Asano River as a 'woman river' in her novel 'Woman of Yuki'. Sai River is sometimes called 'man river'. Sai River is also known as Chrysanthemum Water River.

In the early Edo period, water was brought from the headstream of Sai River to the city center. This is called the Tatsumi water diversion and is still used today. It plays an important role as a water source for Kanazawa people and has been loved for many years. Sai River is an essential part of the Kanazawa people's life.
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ヤセの断崖 Yase-no-dangai Yase Cliff

Jp En

The coasts facing the open sea of Noto Peninsula are wild and masculine. There are also a lot of bold cliffs. Among them is Yase Cliff located in Sasanami, Shika-cho, Hakui-gun, Ishikawa Pref. The ledge outstanding over the sea has the height of 55 m. The promenade is arranged along the cliff but there is no banister or anything else to lean on. It looks as if the cliff refuses our human intervention. The sea seen from the ledge is an exquisite view. The ledge is known as the place from which the heroin of Seicho Matsumoto’s novel “Zero no Shoten (Zero Focus)” jumped to her death. There is a monument of the novel in a pine tree grove on the way from the cliff down to Ganmon Cave. In the vicinity of the cliff, there are several other places of interest including Ganmon Cave and Yoshitsune no Funakakushi (hiding place for a ship)
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落椿 Otitubaki Fallen Camellia

Jp En

Fallen camellia is one of the spring season words in haiku, or 5-7-5 poems. Camellia japonica is a major evergreen broadleaf tree which flowers from winter to the beginning of spring.

The camellia flower does not fall separately as petals, but as a complete flower from its root. It was said that after the Meiji period, samurais hated the camellia because of the way it appeared to drop from the neck. In fact, it was already being propagated in the Edo period.

The flower is both beautiful and useful, so it has been famous since the time of 'Collection of a Myriad Leaves' (750). In modern ages, it was loved as a tea flower and many garden varieties were invented.  It has also been featured in art and music.

In the 18th century, a Jesuit sub-cenobite, G.J. Kamel obtained its seeds in the Philippines and introduced it to Europe.  In ‘The Lady of the Camellias,’ the novel written by Alexandre Dumas fils, it appears as the flower loved by the leading character.
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ニングルテラス Ninguru-terasu Ninguru Terrace

Jp En

Ninguru means, in Ainu language, a small person; ‘nin’ means shrink and ‘guru’ person.  Among Ainu people, it refers to a legendary guardian  of the forest called ‘person of wisdom in the forest’.A screenwriter, So Kuramoto, who wrote the novel  ‘Ninguru’, produced Ninguru-terrace in Furano. The terrace consists of about 10 log houses for craft shops, cafes and ateliers. Ninguru-terrace is derived from Ninguru’s wisdom and creativity and we can learn these things there.The terrace makes for a completely different kind of l shopping mall, more like a space where Ninguru can live with nature. Here, you can enjoyshopping  with a feeling of nature.You can see also the house where Ninguru lived.
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