NIPPON Kichi - 日本吉

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茨城 西念寺 Ibaraki Sainen-ji Ibaraki Sainenji Temple

Jp En

This temple is Bekkaku Honzan (a special headquarters) of Jodo-Shinshu. The Buddhist priest Shinran, who had been exiled to Echigo (present Niigata Pref.), was given absolution and invited to this place. He stayed here and promulgated his faith from 1214 to 1232 before going back to Kyoto. The temple is known as the place where Shinran wrote his famous “Kyogyo Shinsho (A Collection of Passages Revealing the True and Real Teaching, Practice and Realization of the Pure Land Way).” There is a unique gingko tree planted by Shinran himself in the precinct, which is called “Ohatsuki Icho (seeds grow on the leaves).” This Ohatsuki gingko tree was designated as a cultural property by the prefecture on November 15 in 2000. A gingko tree is a known example of a living fossil and is thought to have existed for more than one million years. Though Ohatsuki is not confined to old trees, visitors are glad to pick up a nut and bring it home to plant as a token of their visit. Thinking that the tree was planted by the holy man, they may find a special meaning in the nut.
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華蔵寺 Kezou-ji Kezo Temple

Jp En

Kezo Temple is located in Kira-cho, Hazu-gun, Aichi Prefecture.

Kezo Temple belongs to the Shingon Buddhist sect. The temple has a history of 1600 years and it is believed that Kira Yoshisada established it for the Kira family. There is a magnificent garden behind the main building. In addition, the temple is the site of the grave of Kira Kozunosuke Yoshihisa, who appears in the 'Chuingura'.

Also in the main building are 44 pictures of 'The Beauty of Nature' drawn by Ikeno Taiga. Usually the pictures may not be viewed, except in the New Year, when they are displayed.

A wooden statue created by Kira Kozunosuke Yoshihisa, is designated as cultural asset of the prefecture. Kira Yoshihara is commemorated every year on the 4th December.
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双葉の里 Futaba-no-sato Futaba's Hometown

Jp En

Futabayama Sadaji is the only sumo wrestler who was ever dubbed 'Extraordinary Yokozuna'. His legend has never been surpassed. He won 69 victories in a row in sumo. Futabayama Sadaji was undefeated champion 8 times, and he won a total of 12 competitions.

He is still remembered as a famous sumo wrestler in his hometown Usa, where a statue of him stands. His old house has become a monument to pass on his achievements to the next generation. In the harbor of the town, there are also statues, as well as the former sumo wrestling stable: inside, it is like a museum with exhibits of sumo implements. There is also a room where movies of the famous Yokozuna are shown.

Since its opening, this sumo place has been crowded with sumo and Futabayama fans.
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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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長崎 精霊流し Nagasaki Syourounagasi Nagasaki Shourounagashi

Jp En

Shourounagashi (Floating Lanterns for the Souls of the Departed) is a traditional event held in Nagasaki during the Bon Festival (annual Buddhist event commemorating ancestors, July 15th). It is held to send off the souls of the departed on spirit boats.

There are several versions as to the origin of this tradition. The most commonly held one is that it derives from the Chinese Saishunagashi (floating boat) festival. Saishunagashi was an annual ceremony held by Chinese voyagers and navigators who had come to Nagasaki. At this time, they prayed for the repose of the dead.

In Nagasaki, the family of someone recently deceased makes a large spirit boat, which is then carried to the 'passing point' accompanied by banging gongs and firecrackers. The men carrying the boat shout “Doui!Doui!” as they make their way.

These boats used to be sent off to the sea, but this  is no longer practiced today because of environmental problems.

The influence of China on this tradition is very clear. Many people plug their ears because of the earsplitting sounds of the firecrackers. It is also said that the image presented in the well-known song 'Shourounagashi' by Sadamasashi (a famous Japanese artist) differs considerably from the actual event itself.
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