NIPPON Kichi - 日本吉

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2007/10/16


よさこい祭り Yosakoi-matsuri Yosakoi Festival

Jp En

Yosakoi Matsuri is a relatively new festival. It was created by the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Kochi Prefecture to cast off economic recession after the Second World War and was started in 1954. It was created with influence from Awa-odori (Awa Dance Festival) in Tokushima Prefecture.
In the festival, Naruko, a percussion instrument used to scare off birds in crop fields, was introduced during the dance performance and became an essential part of the Yosakoi Festival to this day.
In the beginning, the dance followed the Japanese traditional dancing style, but Eisaku Takemae, who was a noted music composer and supervised the festival music, encouraged a variety of arrangements in music and many different musical styles have started to appear. Nowadays, each team devises their own original piece with influences coming from many different genres including samba, rock, hip hop, Japanese Enka, flamenco and Hula dance, which, along with more traditional performances, greatly entertain the audiences.
The word, Yosakoi, is derived from an archaic word of Yosari Koi (Come in the evening).
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2007/10/12


早戸大滝 Hayato-ootaki The Hayato Otaki Waterfall

Jp En

The Hayato Otaki Waterfall with the height of 50 m is in the upstream of the Hayato River in Tukui-cho Toya, Sagamihara City, Kanagawa Prefecture.  The Hayato River, which springs out of the northeastern part of Tanzawa Mountains, collects water in the mountains of Hirugatake (1673 m) through Tanzawa Mitsumine and flows down into Lake Miyagase.

Though the waterfall is selected as one of Japan’s 100 fine Waterfalls, it is not known to people living in the areas even around Tokyo. As the waterfall is composed of the two parts; the 40 m upper fall and the 10 m lower fall, and a huge rock is protruding in the midst of the upper fall, the whole part of the waterfall cannot be seen. Also there is no arranged trail leading to the waterfall, so it is very hard to get close to it. For these reasons, the Hayato Waterfall is called “the Visionary Waterfall,” which is rarely visited by people.
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2007/9/26


役小角 En-no-ozunu En no Ozunu

Jp En

En no Ozunu is the founder of Shugendou which teaches how to gain mystic powers through ascetic practices in the mountains and, by unifying with nature, to reach Sokushin Joubutsu, attaining enlightenment in one’s present form. As the initiator who first organized the Japanese spiritual doctrine, En no Ozunu has stood out with his enormous influence that still continues today.    
He was born in 634 at the foot of Katsuragi Mountain in present day Gose City, Nara Prefecture. He possessed unique talents since childhood teaching himself to carve Buddha statues and learning how to write Sanskrit characters. At the age of seventeen, he left his family home and began spiritual practice in Katsuragi Mountain.
Legend says he spent time with a sennin, a legendary immortal hermit, even chastising Buddha and deities, and became a man of strength who had a demon as his follower. When his supernatural powers became known to the Imperial Court, the Emperor, frightened by his power, ordered him exiled to Izu Ooshima Island.
In his late life, he traveled throughout Japan and visited a number of sacred mountains. Reportedly most of mountains considered sacred mountains today were founded by him. At the age of sixty seven, he passed away while smiling, surrounded by many disciples in Tenjyouga-dake Mountain.
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2007/9/7


福岡の鹿踊・剣舞 Fukuoka-no-shishi-odori Ken-bai The Deer Dance and the Sword Dance in Fukuoka

Jp En

The deer dance and the sword dance are traditional folk performing arts handed down in Izumi-ku, Sendai City, Miyagi Prefecture. The sword dance was introduced to this area in 1649 and the deer dance in 1792. The two dances have been handed down as one set of performing art.

Originally, both of the dances were performed to pray for the repose of ancestors’ souls, but later the deer dance has come to be danced for prevention of natural disasters and a rich harvest and the sword dance for driving away evils and bringing peace and stability to their land.

Several features of the old Shugendo religious style can be found in costumes, ohayashi music, dancing, chanting and movements of these dances. It is said that many of the similar dances spreading in the southern part of Iwate Prefecture and the northern part of Miyagi Prefecture have their origins in these dances. A lot of same features can be also seen in the deer dance handed down in Uwajima City in Ehime Prefecture, which was introduced by Date Hidemune, who was transferred to the Uwajima domain in 1615.
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2007/8/13


高の瀬峡 紅葉 Takanosekyou Kouyou Takanose Valley's Autumn Foliage

Jp En

A beautiful view of autumn leaves may be seen from late October to early November in Takanose Valley near Naga in Tokushima Prefecture.

This sight became famous in 1980, when it received the most votes in a poll for the 100 (Best) Tourist Spots in Tokushima. The poll was part of the commemoration of the prefecture’s 100th anniversary.

'Kouyou-no-nishiki' (a tapestry of autumn leaves) became the specialty of this region, along with the Kitou cedar and the Kitou yuzu.

The autumn leaves cover the sharply-sloping sides of the valley, which was formed by the headstreams of the Nakagawa River. This magnificent view stuns all those who see it. The turning maple leaves are especially beautiful, making the valley the best-loved scenic spot in Shikoku.

In other seasons, too, Takanose Valley is attractive for the tender green leaves of spring, the deep green leaves of summer, and the snow-covered landscapes of winter. This makes the area appealing to tourists all year round.
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2007/8/7


黒谷渓谷 Kurodani-keikoku Kuridani Gorge

Jp En

Kurodani Gorge is located in the upstream of the Danto River, which flows into Lake Okuyahagi and join the Yahagi River. The gorge is about 2 km in length and filled with mysterious atmosphere.

The gorge is bustled with anglers in summer when the Ayu fishing tournament is held. They enjoy fishing in the brilliance of tender green reflected on the surface of the river. However, the most impressive is the gorge ablaze with autumn leaves. You will feel refreshed by the exquisite view of the clear stream.

A camping site and bungalows are provided in the vicinity, where you can stay and enjoy bountiful nature to your heart’s content.
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2007/7/27


大東岳 Daitou-dake Mt. Daitodake

Jp En

Mt. Daitodake is a tholoid volcano located in the border of Miyagi and Yamagata Prefectures. It is 1,366 m above sea level. The Natori River rises in this mountain. With a spacious trapezoidal summit, it has a stately appearance.

Contrary to the spacious summit, the side of the mountain is very steep. However, several climbing trails are set out and even beginners can get to the summit without so much difficulty.

At the summit is a caldera lake, which is surrounded by huge flat land. In early summer, the summit is covered with alpine roses. You can spend a luxurious time at the spacious summit surrounded by alpine roses and a panoramic view. Above your head is nothing other than the sky.

Futakuchi Gorge at the foot of the mountain is also a must-see scenic spot. Tender green in summer and crimson foliage in fall are especially beautiful.
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2007/7/19


デカンショ祭 Dekansho-matsuri Dekansho Festival

Jp En

Dekansho Festival is a Bon dance festival held in the middle of August in Sasayama City, Hyogo Pref. With the hope of preserving and passing down various local Dekansho-bushi songs in the Tanba Sasayama area, the festival was first held in 1952 on the riverbed of the Sasayama River. Dekansho-bushi song, to which Dekansho Dance is danced, is said to have originated in “Mitsu-bushi,” which was sung around the end of the Edo period by the people from Sasayama, thinking of their hometown. In the later periods, it was sung with various lyrics and spread all over the country. At the present time, the festival is held in the field of the Sannomaru (the third castle) ruin, where people dance in multiple circles around a large yagura tower at the center. The highlight of the festival is the vigorous “Yagura So-Odori,” in which even the people coming from outside the prefecture join the circle dancing to the ohayashi music and the refrain of “Yoi-Yoi-De-Kansho!” If you want to have one more summertime memory, why don’t you join it?
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