NIPPON Kichi - 日本吉

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【環】 Kan The Character for Cycle, Ring, Surround

Jp En

'Kan' (as in 環境 'Kankyo': environment, surroundings) has a form that shows a rather deep meaning. The upper part of the character is 'eye.' ○ means 'gem' or 'precious stone.' Apart from the character form made up of these three elements, there is also a character form with the 'gem' classifier. The 'gem' classifier (the character's radical on the left) takes the form of a 'cord' passing through three 'gems.'

Actually, 'Kan' is related to funeral customs and the belief in resurrection from death and faith. As the 'eye' above is open, it symbolizes resurrection from death. In antiquity, it was the custom to bury a dead person with his or her possessions. This character takes the form of a gem around the neck of the deceased's dress. As can be seen in the character 含, there also was a custom of placing a gem in the deceased's 口 mouth.

Dr. Shirakawa mentions, in works such as 'Koshiden: The Life of Confucius,' that Zhuang Zi (in 'The True Classic of Southern (Cultural) Fluorescence') often describes such customs as above. However, as is to be expected from a leading Daoist, he is rather critical and negative. For example, in Zhuang Zi's 'Miscellaneous Chapters, Esoteric Things,' he satirizes Confucians who retrieve gems attached to corpses following exact descriptions of the deceased's possessions in 'The Book of Odes,' which later Confucians have regarded as a moral authority. Dr. Shirakawa has pointed out that in the work of Nishida Kitaro, a representative philosopher of Japan, one can see good influence from Zhuang Zi, who, in a sense, has philosophized the world of Chinese characters. In this respect, Kanji have a dimension that connects the past with the present.

環境 'Kankyo: environment' is closely related to the fate of mankind. Wouldn't it be a really appropriate character to think about when maintaining a healthy environment?
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鶴見古墳 Tsurumi-kofun Tsurumi Ruins

Jp En

Officially designated as an historical site, Kawabe Takamori Ruins consist of 6 large keyhole-shaped tomb mounds, surrounded by 120 graves. All of them have a large keyhole-shaped tomb mound facing different directions.

The ruins have lost their shapes over time due to the increase of surrounding paddy fields. However, this is the only place which has several ruins concentrated in Oita Prefecture. Even in Kyushu, these ruins comprise the the second largest burial site after the Saitobaru Ruins (320 graves) in Miyazaki Prefecture.

The Tsurumi Ruins were the last tombs to be made for the headman of Usa area in the mid-6th century. Furthermore, they are an important historical record of the burial system during the late Kofun period.
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上杉家廟所 Uesugi-ke-byousyo Uesugi Clan Mausoleum

Jp En

The mausoleum of the Uesugi Clan is located in Yonezawa in Yamagata Prefecture. The Uesugi-ke-byousyo is the final resting place for the long line of the Uesugi clan.

The tomb of the clan founder, Kenshin Uesugi, can be found in the center of the mausoleum, while the tombs housing the remains of up to 12 generations of his descendants spread out to both sides. The tombs for the 2nd to 8th generation descendants are made of Japanese zelkova with circular columns and are in the Yashiro architectural style. Tombs for the 9th to 12th generation descendants are made from Japanese cedar and cypress with simple square columns, built in the Hougyou architectural style at the request of the 10th generation Youzan. Either way, the styles of the tombs show the personality of the Uesugi clan perfectly.

The remains of founder Kenshin Uesugi were placed in a jar along with his armor and were transported from Echigo-kasuga-yama (present day Jyouetsu City, Niigata Prefecture), via Aizu (present day Aizu-wakamatsu City, Fukushima Prefecture) and Yonezawa Castle, and finally to the Uesugi-ke-byousyou in the 9th year of the Meiji period.

Yonezawa Clan Uesugi Clan Mausoleum was designated a National Monument in January 1984.
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こうもり塚古墳 Koumoriduka-kofun Koumoriduka Archeological Site

Jp En

Koumoriduka archeological site is an officially designated site in Okayama prefecture. It dates back to the late-6th century and is a burial mound that was carved out of the natural hill, having a length of about 100m.

It is named 'koumoriduka' because many bats (koumori) live here. The rock chamber is about 19.4m2 in size and as large as the stone chamber at the Ishibutai burial mound in Nara prefecture.

The mound comprises long dromos and a burial chamber. There is a stone coffin inside that was hollowed from limestone. The mound also has wooden and earthen coffins, and it seems to be a standard ruin of that time. This burial mound suggests great power and wealth.
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野方遺跡 Nokata-iseki The Ruins of Nokata Village

Jp En

The ruins of Nokata (Nokata Iseki), in Nishi-ku, Fukuoka-shi, Fukuoka Prefecture, show the remains of a village dating from the end of the Yayoi period to the Kofun period. The village was located on a long, fan-shaped plateau, which has an altitude of 17m to 20m, and measures 600m from north to south, and 200m east to west.

During the Yayoi period, the village was surrounded by two moats of different sizes. Within the village were smaller 'kango' (a small village surrounded by a moat), with the bigger kango having as many as 10 dwellings. Within the smaller kango were above-ground warehouses, which stored foods such as grain.

By the Kofun Period, there were more than 300 dwellings here. The burial area was very obviously situated away from the residential area. Many artefacts were excavated from the kango, including earthenware, stone implements and ironware, along with a variety of clam shells and bones from animals, birds, and fish, such as shark, bream and sea bass. Also unearthed were stone coffins filled with mirrors, balls, swords, glass balls and beads.

Nokata Iseki is a great place for people to learn about and envision the daily life of people in ancient Japan, and to capture the history and atmosphere of the past.
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金隈遺跡 Kanenokuma-iseki Kanenokuma Ruin

Jp En

Kanenokuma ruin is a 'funbo-iseki' (tomb ruin) located in Hakata-ku, Fukuoka-shi, Fukuoka Prefecture. It is sited on a 30m-high hill. So far, 348 'kamekanbo' (burials in large jars), 119 'dokobo' (burials directly into the ground) and 'mokanbo' (burials in wooden coffins), as well as 2 'sekikanbo' (burials in stone coffins) have been found here.

A huge amount of kamekanbo were children, indicating that this was the preferred form of burial for children. Many bodies reveal the custom of tooth extraction. Across 400 years, from about 200BC to 200AC, the Yayoi people used this burial site as a public graveyard. It can also be seen that it was a graveyard specifically for common Yayoi people, because no riches such as mirrors were found with the bodies, showing that no people of power were buried here.

Today, Kanenokuma ruin is an historic park. Many of the coffins, including dokobo and kamekanbo, are exhibited in a specially constructed building over the site and in the same condition where excavation has taken place. In 1972, Kanenokuma ruin was designated as an historic site of Japan.
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法華堂跡 Hokkedou-ato The Ruin of Hokkedo

Jp En

The Ruin of Hokkedo is the burial tower of Yoritomo Minamotono, and is located in Nishimikado, Kamakura, in Kanagawa Prefecture.

The Hokkedo was originally a place which enshrined the protection deity of Yoritomo. In 1199, however, after Yoritomo died and was buried at this place, it was renamed in due course the Hokkedo. In the battle of Miura in 1247, the Hokkedo became the suicide ground for more than 500 people belonging to the Miura family, who had served the place since its foundation.

The hall belonging to the Hokkedo was later moved to the foot of the mountain, and the Shirahatasha stands in this location today. A memorial pagoda (kuyoto), which was built on this ruin, later became the burial tower of Yoritomo Minamotono and still is today. It is also said that the current burial tower might be renovated one day.

The Hokkedo is a memorial to Yoritomo, who is responsible for constituting the foundations of the samurai government of Japan.
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