NIPPON Kichi - 日本吉

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【気】 Ki Energy, Spirit, Atmosphere

Jp En

Its original character is 气. Again, the original character of 气 is 乞, the form of moving clouds. 気 can be thought of as the basic unit of energy, be it air, atmosphere, weather, vapor, or breathing.
In ‘Explanation of Common Use Kanji,’ the last character dictionary of Dr. Shirakawa, for the first time in his dictionaries, we find his explanation commenting on the vital role of 米 ‘rice’ nurturing 気 spirit or energy. By the way, also Jacob Chang-Ui Kim from Korea gave a similar view in his English explanation of Kanji.
Food is what supplies living beings with energy. Without eating, one cannot live and there is no vitality. From ancient times on, rice is the basic food and basis of energy in East Asia.
The upper part of 気 can also be thought of as the rising steam from rice boiling, and it therefore may even be regarded as a pictograph. In Japanese, 気 came to be used in a lot of expressions describing human feelings and states of mind. In East Asia as a whole, it has become the basis of martial arts culture built on the importance of breathing techniques, as Chinese shadow boxing and Aikidō.
In ancient Greek philosophy, with ‘pneuma,’ there is a very similar notion. The Stoa, a classic school of thought that commends pantheism and a life style following the laws of nature, taught that ‘pneuma,’ the most fine matter like air, is the carrier of ‘logos,’ or world reason, extant everywhere in the universe. In this sense, 気 is (was) a common way of thinking in East and West.
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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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明道の滝 Myoudounotaki Myodo Waterfall

Jp En

Myodo Waterfall is fed by the waters of the Mogami River, and is located in Yonezawa, Yamagata prefecture. More precisely, the upper part of the Mogami River is called the Matsu River, and the waterfall lies along the course of the Matsu River.

The powerful waterfall can be seen from an observation deck on a hiking course on Mt. Nishi-Gosai. The waterfall is on a precipice and you cannot get much closer to it.

The district is in the mountainous area of Yonezawa. To the west are the Asahi Mountains, to the east are the Ouu Mountains, and the Gosai Mountains are to the south. Yonezawa City lies in the basin formed by these mountains. The 100-ha wetland here is a treasury of alpine plants.

There are some hot springs in the area that are visited by many people all year long. Autumn is especially popular when the leaves around the waterfall turn beautifully red. A 'water' line runs through the red leaves. The sight is a symbol of the headstream.
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小高城 Odaka-jyo Odaka Castle

Jp En

Odaka Castle is a hirayama-style castle located in Odaka, Minami-soma, Fukushima Prefecture.

Due to the fact that the castle stood on the towhead of the Kodaka River, it was also named the Red Plum Mountain Floating Castle, and is also a natural fortress.

Odaka Castle was also the living quarters of the Soma clan but when this began is uncertain. In the 3rd year of the Genko era (1323), Shigetane Soma moved to Oota from Shimosanokuni, but later moved to Odaka Castle. In the 3rd year of the Kenbu era (1336), Mitsutane Soma refurbished the castle and the castle became the headquarters of the Soma clan. The clan held a powerful position inside the Northern Court during the Nanboku-cho period, and also fought bitterly against Masamune Date during the Sengoku period, and managed to survive.

Odaka Castle was abandoned during the 16th year of the Keicho Era (1611) when Toneshige Soma moved to a different castle. Currently Odaka Shrine stands where the castle keep used to be, and the Soma Wild Horse Chase Festival is a sight to see.

Odaka Castle looks no more like it used to, but it is an important castle with a place in history over many generations.
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玉競り Tamaseseri Tamaseseri Festival

Jp En

Tamaseseri is a festival held in Fukuoka city's Higashi ward. Every year on January 3, groups of men compete over large balls called houju. Out of the two wooden ying and yang balls, the yang one (with a diameter of 28cm and a weight of 8kg) is said to have lucky powers. Once the yang ball is held above a person's head, he will be destined to have success in everything. A total of 250 men fight over the balls after dousing themselves in cold water.

There are many theories concerning the origin of the balls. Although it is not certain, one theory states that the idea came from the 'manjusenju' balls offered to the dragon god during the battle of the shinkou-kougou-sankan. All legends agree that both balls were dedicated to the Hakozakigu shrine because, without the ying ball, the yang ball would make sounds while glowing and queer things would happen. For 500 years, the Tamaseri has been a strangely masculine but gallant festival and a grand sight to see.
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