NIPPON Kichi - 日本吉

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伎楽面 Gigaku-men Gigaku Mask

Jp En

Gigaku is a silent dance drama brought to Japan from China.  It is performed without words, by dancers wearing big masks.
The masks used for Gigaku are called Gigaku masks and they are different from the masks used for Bugaku or Noh. Gigaku masks are bigger and they cover the head, while other masks only cover the face. There are a number of different masks, corresponding  to different  roles in the play, including the human, demon, shishi lion and Herculean man masks.
More than a hundred gigaku masks are preserved in such historically important temples as Shousouin, Houryuu-ji and Toudai-ji and they have been designated as National Treasures.
Gigaku flourished  around the 6th century in Japan and it was performed extensively in the precincts of temples and shrines in order to promote understanding of the Buddhist teachings.  Shousouin temple has a set of Gigaku masks used largely for the gigaku dance that was held on the occasion of Daibutsu Kaigan (a ceremony to consecrate a newly made Buddhist image) at Toudai-ji in 752.
There are essentially two methods of making gigaku masks; kibori (wood carving) and kanshitsu (dry lacquer). Many of the wood carving masks were made from camphor and paulownia wood.
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ちんこんかん Chin-kon-kan Chin-kon-kan Dance

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Chin-kon-kan is a dedication dance performed annually on 16 August at Ushi Shrine (Osuga Shrine) in Shinkura-cho.

A large masked demon in a red costume with a small hama-bow, and a smaller demon with a 6 shaku-sized staff (approx. 6ft long), dance to the rhythm of bass and snare taiko drums and bells.

It is said that this Ushi Shrine was built in the Tenmon era (1532〜1555) to enshrine dead cows. Later the dance also became a prayer for rain and to repel insects.

Chin-kon-kan is also known as 'Chikkon-kan', and sometimes written in Chinese characters with the phonetic equivalent letters of bamboo ('chiku'), root ('kon')and stem ('kan'). Probably these various ways of writing chin-kon-kan derive from the sounds made by the musical instruments.

Chin-kon-kan was designated as an intangible folklore cultural asset of the prefecture in 1959 (Showa 34).
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五馬市くにち楽 Itumashi-kunitigaku Itsumashi-Kunichigaku

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Itsumashi-Kunichigaku is a part of Itsumakunichi, a traditional autumn festival held in Itsuma, a region of Amagasemachi in Hita, Oita Prefecture.

Itsumakunichi is a festival to pray for a bountiful harvest of the five grains (soybean, rice, corn, wheat, and sorghum). The festival was designated as an intangible cultural asset of Oita and dates back more than 100 years.

Itsumakunichi combines four festivals that take place in four different parts of the city at different times. The first festival, called the Honjo-Kunichigaku, takes place on 20 and 21 October at Kanakori Temple. The second festival, called the Tsukada-Kunichimikoshi, takes place on 22 and 23 October at Aso Temple. The third festival, called the Deguchi-Kunichigaku, takes place on 24 and 25 October at Oimatsu Temple. The Itsumashi-Kunichigaku, which takes place on 26 and 27 October at Tamarai Temple, is the last festival of the Itsumakunichi.

At Itsumashi-Kunichigaku, Tengu (a long-nosed, red-faced, demi-god), kappa (river imps), Daikoku (One of the seven gods of fortune) and Fukurokuju (one of the seven lucky gods) march cheerfully along to the buoyant music. The highlight of the festival, however, is a cane dance called the midare-tsue, that is performed by everyone.

Itsumashi-Kunichigaku is a traditional festival that should be cherished by people and preserved for posterity.
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上野天神祭り Ueno-itenzin-maturi Ueno Tenjin Festival

Jp En

The Ueno Tenjin Festival is held at Ueno, Iga, in Mie Prefecture, and is a unique festival in the Kinki area.

The festival features a portable miniature shrine (mikoshi), followed by 9 flamboyant floats (danjiri), as well as large and small groups of some 300 humorous demons along with En-no Ozuno and Minamotono Yoritomo (both historical characters). These parade all day long through the downtown area re-creating the culture of the Genroku era.

The roots of this festival date to the time when Fujidou Takatora moved the Tenjingu figure to Yamanokami in Ueno. People came to worship Tenjingu as the guardian deity of the locality, and a festival developed that became increasingly lively. The costumes worn for the festival parade became more elaborate over the years.

Between 1804 and 1828, the Tenjin festival took the shape it has today. The Ueno Tenjin Festival is counted as one of the three major festivals of the Kansai area, and is also designated as an important intangible cultural heritage of Japan.
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