NIPPON Kichi - 日本吉

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からかさ万灯 Karakasa-mandou Karakasa Firework Displays

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Karakasa firework displays are held at Otori Shrine in Tsuchiura. In these displays, fireworks are set off from 'karakasa' umbrellas made from oiled paper. These giant umbrellas measure 5m in both height and diameter.

A 100m-long rope acts as a fuse to carry the spark that sets off the actual fireworks, which are set on a box called 'yatsuguchi' on top of the karakasa. The fireworks in turn send sparks which then light a series of lanterns hung around the circumference of the karakasa. After that, the sparks are the main feature of the moment called 'te-botan' ('hand peony'), when the sparks appear to fall from the umbrella like raindrops. This beautiful display lasts for about 7 minutes. Legend has it that this firework display began as a prayer for rain by farmers who were suffering from drought.

Under the karakasa is a lantern with the words 'productive crops'. When the fireworks of the karakasa have finished, bottle rockets are fired into the night sky and the festival ends.
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和傘 Wagasa Wagasa (Japanese Umbrellas)

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The umbrella was invented in ancient China as a canopy to be held over a nobleman. In 552, during the Asuka period, the umbrella was introduced to Japan through Kudara (the Korean peninsula) as part of Buddhist ceremonies.

The umbrella in Japan was originally called 'kinugasa', but because it came from China ('kara'), it was also called 'karakasa'. The original form of the umbrella was improved over time: the center tube and ribs were made from bamboo, and the covering was made from oilpaper, waterproofed with persimmon, linseed oil and China wood oil. Despite its strong water resistance, its major flaws were that it was neither light nor durable.

There are two types of Japanese umbrella: the bangasa (coarse oilpaper umbrella) and janomegasa (snake-eye umbrella/paper umbrella). The janomegasa is made from paper, is blue in the center and at the edges, and white in between, and looks like the eye of a snake when viewed from above. This umbrella does have variations, such as painted black rings on the surface and the application of other astringent materials.

Currently, the kano umbrella, made in Kano, Gifu Prefecture, is proud to be to the only place in Japan to be a major producer of traditional Japanese umbrellas.
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"Nippon-kichi" leads you to places, people and things that reveal a certain Japanese aesthetic.

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