NIPPON Kichi - 日本吉

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登米新緑薪能 Toyoma-shinryoku-takigi-nou Toyoma Shinryoku Takigi-Noh

Jp En

Toyoma Shinryoku Takigi-Noh is the Noh play put on outdoors with light supplied by bonfires. It is performed in the middle of June every year at Mori Butai, the Noh theater and museum, in Toyoma Town in Tome City, Miyagi Prefecture.

When the bonfires placed on the white sand ground around the stage are lit all at once at 5:00 in the evening, the Noh stage appears out of the darkness. For the following three hours, the elegant Noh plays on the stage together with the sound and smell of burning torches transport spectators somewhere ethereal.

During the Edo period, Noh was considered to be important as Shikigaku (music and dances performed at official occasions) of the warrior class. In the Sendai domain, too, it was given protection and encouragement by the successive domain lords including Date Masamune.

In the territory of the Toyoma-Date family, who followed the formalities of the Date clan, Noh was also extensively practiced and handed down by the warrior class. After the abolition of clans in the Meiji period (1868-1912), the warriors who handed down Noh plays became farmers, which resulted in Noh becoming widespread among townspeople and being inherited in Toyoma Town as Toyoma-Noh.

Toyoma-Noh has been handed down by Toyoma Yokyokukai (Toyoma Noh Chant Society) since 1908. Although they are amateur performers, they keep the tradition with extremely high level of performance that can be compared with professional Noh players. Toyoma-Noh was prefecturally designated as an intangible folk cultural property and it still enjoys wide popularity among people inside and outside the prefecture.
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調べ緒 Shirabe-o Shirabeo

Jp En

Shirabeo, or formally called Shirabe, is a set of ropes used for Kotsuzumi (a small hand drum), Otsuzumi (a large hand drum) and Shime-daiko (a rope-tuned drum). Shirabeo does not only hold the drum heads in place but also tunes the pitch of drums. The pitch can be varied by squeezing the ropes with the left hand while striking the drum with the right. Shirabeo is an indispensable part of drums used in classical Japanese music such as Noh, Kabuki and Nagauta and folk music.

For a long time until around 1877, when a professional tuner came into existence, any durable strings on hand were used for tuning. Today, a code for Shirabeo is made of two Japanese linen ropes twisted each other, after which as many as 25 detailed processes are given. The rope used for Shirabeo must be elastic so that it comes back to its original place after being pulled by the player and at the same time it must be soft so that the player’s hand skins are not damaged after playing for a long time. Highly elaborate techniques and long experience are required to produce such ropes.
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阿紀神社 Aki-jinja Aki Shrine

Jp En

Aki Shrine is an old shrine in Uda, Nara Prefecture. It was established when Jinmu-Tosei took place, which is the movement of the Jinmu Emperor traveling east.

The Jinmu Emperor established the shrine to worship Amaterasu. Therefore, Amaterasu is the principle image. The main building is made in the same style as Ise shrine, and the barage board penetrates the roof. Also, the 'katsuogi' is aligned on the ridge.

Within the shrine grounds, there is a stage for Noh performances, which were first performed here from the early Edo period. The performances stopped in the Taisho period, but were revived in 1992. Now, the performances are known as Akino Hotaru Noh and are performed in June.

In front of the shrine, Kagirohi Hill spreads out. The hill appears in a poem by Kakinomoto no Hitomaro. In winter, the scenery is marvellous.
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竹生島 Chikubu-shima Chikubu Island

Jp En

Chikubu Island is in the northern part of Lake Biwa, in Nagahama City, Shiga Prefecture. The total area of the island is 0.14m2 and its highest part is 197m. It is designated a Great Scenic and Historical Place of the Nation.

Chikubu Island is located 2km south of Tsuzurao Cape. The whole island is covered with conifers and is said to be one of the 8 great views of Lake Biwa. The island also appears in Japanese Noh dance-drama, and is referred to in Japanese lute music, storytelling, and modern Japanese music.

Since olden times, the island has been worshipped and a god is said to live there. At the south end of the island, there are Chikubu Island Shrine, enshrining one of the three major Benten gods, and Hogoji Temple, the 30th spot of Saigoku 33. The lake around the island is deep, while the western side is the deepest part of Lake Biwa. Between the island and Tsuzurao Cape in the north, remains have been found on the lake bottom. Much earthenware is being pulled up from 70 meters down.

Chikubu Island is a traditional island with a long history and a myth.
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"Nippon-kichi" leads you to places, people and things that reveal a certain Japanese aesthetic.

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