Chichibu Meisen is the silk fabric made from Chichibu silk that has been manufactured since ancient time in Chichibu City, Saitama Prefecture.
The origin of Chichibu Meisen dates back as early as the Emperor Sujin era (BC149~BC29) when Chichibuhiko-no-mikoto taught the technology of sericulture and the weaving to local people.
The fabric uses yarns taken from silkworm cocoons called Tama-mayu as well as Kuzu-mayu, debris of the cocoons. This thick yarn is woven horizontally, which makes the fabric durable. Sericulturists used to make the fabric for their own working clothes.
Chichibu Meisen uses a simple weave form called Hiraori (literally, flat weave) which has no difference between front and reverse side, thus, allowing people to turn the clothes inside-out to renovate the dress when the color wears out. With its durability and utility, the fabric became popular among common people and developed further.
Samurai warriors also valued the fabric and helped its development. Over the decades, Chichibu Meisen was improved and the technology advanced while it kept its tradition. It reached its period of peak popularity during Meiji era and the beginning of Showa era.
Chichibu Meisen, which won the hearts of many people in Meiji and Taisho era with its rich design style, still draws attention and is woven with great care while preserving its long history.
Owari Manzai, or also called Chita Manzai, is a traditional folk performing art handed down in Aichi Prefecture. It was nationally designated as an Important Intangible Folk Cultural Property in 1996.
It is said that Owari Manzai originates in the comical play contrived by Muju Kokushi, the chief priest of Choboji Temple in present Nagoya City, during the Kamakura period (1192-1333) to make the teaching of the Lotus Sutra understandable to villagers. This comical play came to be called “Hokkekyo Manzai (the Lotus Sutra Manzai).”
Owari manzaists organized touring troupes and had stage performances mainly in the entrance hall of houses in nearby provinces such as Ise, Kii, Totomi, and Kiso, affecting Manzai performances in those areas. In the Taisho period (1912-1926), it became so popular that professional manzai troupes were organized and Owari Manzai was performed at theaters.
Manzai goes basically by Tayu who delivers congratulatory addresses with a Japanese folding fan, and Saizo who follows tapping the tsuzumi (hand drum), while typical Sankyoku Manzai is performed by three players with three musical instruments, tsuzumi, shamisen, and kokyu. It has been passed down as a flamboyant theatrical performance by Owari Manzai Preservation Group.
The Mangokuura Sea is an immense inland sea with an area of 7.2 ha located behind Watanoha Port and surrounded by mountains on Oga Peninsula. The name “Mangoku (10,000 koku of rice) Ura (Sea)” comes from an old story that when Date Tadamune, the 2nd generation lord of the Sendai domain, visited this place, he said “If land reclamation is given to this land, it will produce 10,000 kuku of rice.” In the Edo period, coastal salt production was done in this inland sea under the promotion of the Sendai domain. Since the Taisho period, cultivation of oysters and laver has been active in this area. Here. Ishinomaki is said to be the birthplace of oyster cultivation. So the high-quality breeding oyster of this nutritious sea is especially famous not only in Japan but also all over the world. The Mangokuura Sea is also a popular place for gathering of clams and fishing of flounder and rock trout. The Mangokuura Sea is the “Mother Sea” that produces fresh seafood.
The Omagari Fireworks Competition is held in Omagari, Daisen City in Akita Prefecture on the 4th Saturday every year. It started in 1910 as a local fireworks display of the annual festival at Suwa Shrine. In 1915, the association of fireworks manufactures in 6 prefectures in the Tohoku region hosted the fireworks display to raise the level of fireworks technology, changing the name to the present one.
The competition is held on the banks of the Omonogawa River. The most overwhelming is the association’s display of 1,500 fireworks, which are shot up into the night sky with powerful sparks. Solemn back ground music increases the magnificence.
Many prizes such as the Prime Minister’s Award are given to the excellent fireworks manufactures. The best of the best fireworks manufacturers come from all over Japan and battle for the title of “Best in Japan.”
Kagetsukan Guesthouse is a designated cultural property of Takikawa City in Hokkaido. It was originally constructed in 1897 as an office building of the Hokkaido branch office of Imperial Household Agency. Then in the early Taisho period (1912-1926), a Japanese inn Miuraya bought it from the government and built an annex building in the Japanese style, which resulted in this unique half-Western and half-Japanese style building. It was used as VIP rooms, where a lot of eminent people from various fields stayed.
When Miuraya planned to make further addition and betterment in the 90th anniversary year in 1980, the building was donated to the city. The city government designated it as a cultural property and named it Kagetsukan.
You will be impressed by the stateliness and magnificence of the high-class residence in the periods from Meiji to Taisho. The things pertaining to the eminent guests who stayed here are displayed inside the building. You can enjoy the gorgeous atmosphere of the Taisho Roman world.
The old office building of Sekishinsha in Ogifushi in Urakawa Town in Hokkaido was the office building of Sekishinsha, a successful developing company in the Meiji period (1868-1912). In 1979, Christian pioneers got together and formed Sekishinsha to develop the land in Hokkaido. For two years from 1880 to 1881, 130 pioneer farmers in total moved to Hokkaido.
Although many of other similar companies failed and withdrew from the developing business, they had succeeded in the projects in various fields including agriculture, livestock farming, forestry, sericulture and commerce and built their own office in front of Ogifushi Station in 1888.
In 1918, the office building was donated to Ogifushi Village and moved to another place to be used as a village hall. Then it was used as the village government office building for some time. In 1954, it was relocated to the present place and was used as the local history museum. Since 1974 to the present, it has been the history museum, where the documents and things pertaining to Sekishinsha are exhibited.
A year was divided into 24 solar terms on the traditional Japanese calendar. Shoman is the 8th solar term. It usually begins around May 21st, when the Sun reaches the celestial longitude of 60°. Everything on the Earth grow rapidly to its mature size. Fields of wheat ripen into greenish yellow, silkworms eat mulberry leaves greedily, and safflowers come into bloom. In the Koyomi Binran (the Handbook of Japanese Calendar) published in the Edo period, it is written that everything prospers and grass, trees and branches come into leaf.
It is the season when the air is filled with summer vivacity. In haiku, the word “geshi” is the season word for summer.
At Inari Taish Shrine in Saku City, Nagano Prefecture, the annual festival is held to pray for growth of silkworms, rich harvest and business success. It has been held since the Taisho period (1912-1926) and is one of the largest festivals in the Kanto region. Together with the plant fair, more than 500 street stalls line along the front approach.
Ukimido is a two-story pagoda in Ukimido Park on the northern side of Lake Toya in Hokkaido. This vermillion pagoda was constructed in 1937 to enshrine Prince Shotoku.
According to the local legend, a priest traveling in the northern part of Japan once stayed at an inn Matsuhashitei in Toya Village in the early Taisho period (1912-1926). About a month later, when he left this village, he gave the inn keeper the statue of Prince Shotoku, which he had been carrying all the way, and said, “If you enshrine this statue, the village will be prosperous with industries.” To keep this promise, the pagoda was constructed in 1937 and the statue was enshrined here.
The pagoda was however hit by a direct stroke of lightening in 2003 and burned down with the statue. The people in Toyako Town raised the fund to reconstruct it because they believed Prince Shotoku had sacrificed himself for them. The pagoda and the statue were restored in 2004. In July every year, Prince Shotoku Festival is held together with Lake Toya Summer Festival, when a lot of tourists enjoy the festival parade and fireworks display.