NIPPON Kichi - 日本吉

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2008/2/7


おばけの金太 Obake-no-kinta Obake no Kinta

Jp En

Obake no Kinta or Kinta the Ghost is a folk toy that originated in Kumamoto City, Kumamoto Prefecture.
The toy consists of a head with a string in the back of it.  When the string is pulled, Kinta rolls his big round eyeballs and sticks out his tongue.  A bamboo spring is concealed in his head which, when pulled, triggers the eyes and the tongue to move at the same time. Kinta with his red face and a black conical hat makes a striking impression on small children and he often scares them a little.  He is a popular toy among adults, however.  The most important process in making this toy is the making of the bamboo spring.  The quality of this spring determines the quality of the toy.      
When Kato Kiyomasa built the Kumamoto Castle, there was a popular foot soldier named Kinta who had a funny face and who was good at making people laugh. He was affectionately called “Clown Kinta”. The Kinta the Ghost toy was said to have been created during the Kanei era (1848 ~ 1853) by a doll maker, Hikoshichi Nishijinya, who started making mechanical toys based on stories about Kinta.  Because of his unique action, Kinta the Ghost was also known as the Goggle-eyed Doll.
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2007/8/16


藤崎宮例大祭 Fujisaki-guu-reitaisai The Grand Festival of Fujisaki Hachimangu Shrine

Jp En

The annual festival held at Fujisaki Hachimangu Shrine in Kumamoto City is one of the largest festivals in Kumamoto Prefecture. As the shrine of war gods, it was worshipped by warriors since its foundation in 935.

The festival is held for 5 days from the 2nd Thursday in September every year. It is said that the festival originates in a Buddhist ritual of Hojoe, a ceremony in which captive fish and birds are set free to gain religious merit. The climax is the Zuibyo (Retinue Soldiers) Parade held on the last day. Zuibyo Parade originates in the parade of soldiers when Kato Kiyomasa paid a visit to this shrine to attend the rituals of the annual festival that he resumed.

Together with the mikoshi (a portable shrine) parade, more than 60 groups of local people dressed in festival cloths march and chant valiantly “Dokai! Dokai!” while following their elaborately decorated robust horses through the streets of the city.
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2007/3/12


磐船神社 Iwafune-jinjya Iwafune Shrine

Jp En

Iwafune Shrine is in Kisaichi, Katano City, Osaka pref. The enshrined deities is Nigihayahi no Mikoto. The Goshintai (symbol of divinity) is a big rock with a length of 18 m and a height of 12 m, which looks like a ship. The place where the shrine is located was thought to be Ikaruga-mine (the peak where the god descended). According to the legend, Nigihayahi no Mikoto, the founding father of the Mononobe clan, flew from the heaven in this rock ship named “Ama no Iwafune,” glided over the edge of the low mountains extending like a tongue and descended at this place. Another story about this rock is that Kato Kiyomasa once tried to move this rock to use as the material for stone walls of Osaka Castle, but he couldn’t and gave it up. In front of Goshintai, the Haiden hall (oratory) stands as if it carries the divine rock on its back. In the precinct are a holy rock cave formed by numerous huge rocks and many Buddhist images carved on the rocks. Iwafune Shrine is also known as the guardian god of safe navigation. This is the place where the ancient religious style has been kept for a long time.
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2007/2/14


名古屋城 Nagoya-jyou Nagoya Castle

Jp En

Nagoya Castle, in Nagoya, Aichi Prefecture, was established by Tokugawa Ieyasu with the help of his daimyo, such as Maeda, Kato, Fukushima, Hosokawa and Kuroda.

It took Ieyasu 3 years to complete. It was built between Edo and Osaka because it was to control the Edo government and also to prepare for attacks from the western side. For 250 years, it was the residence of the Tokugawa family of Owari.

Nagoya Castle was built based on a design by Kato Kiyomasa, which was in the castle keep style. It has a 'shachihoko' on the roof. To enter the 5-layered large castle keep, one must first enter the small castle keep.

Paintings of the castle, by artists such as Kano Teishin, are still preserved. Most of them are designated as important national cultural assets.
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