NIPPON Kichi - 日本吉

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小僧不動の滝寒中みそぎ Kozou-fudou-no-taki-kanchuu-misogi Waterfall Purification at Kozo-Fudo Sui Shrine

Jp En

Waterfall purification is performed on January 15 every year at Kozo Fudo Sui Shrine in Ichihasama Nagasaki in Kurihara City, Miyagi Prefecture. The men who have reached their Yaku-doshi (the unlucky ages) and who have attained adulthood participate in the purification.

At around 7:00 in the evening, the men wearing loincloths, straw sandals and headbands march into the precinct of the shrine, carrying the Mikoshi made of straw rice bags. After they offer a prayer for their safety during the purification ritual, they run to the Kozo-Fudo Waterfall and jump into the basin with renewed vigor.

Although the air temperature around the waterfall is about 8 degrees below zero, they stand under the waterfall with a height of 10 m and then soak in the cold water. Their skin turn crimson in no time but they continue offering a prayer for family safety, good health, expelling bad luck, a rich harvest or success in entrance examinations.

When they come out of water, they return to the shrine to report that the purification is over without any accident. Greeted by spectators’ cheers and applause, they take a rest around a bonfire and drink hot Amazake (sweet sake-wine). The ritual has received a favorable comment from the participants that they can feel refreshed when their body and soul are purified.
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奈良 若草山 Nara Wakakusa-yama Wakakusayama

Jp En

Wakakusayama in Nara City, Nara Prefecture, is the 33 ha. hill rising 342 m above sea level. As three round hills stand in a row, it is also called “Mikasayama (three sedge hats mountain). On the top of Wakakusayama lies the Uguisuzuka Kofun (an ancient Imperial tomb). Built in around the 5th century, it is one of the largest kofuns in Japan. The whole mountain is covered with beautiful grass and it is closed for the greater part of the year to protect the grass except the certain periods of time in spring and fall. The view from the top of the hill can command wonderfully a whole view of a Nara City. It is one of the Newly Selected Japan’s Three Finest Night Views. The Yamayaki festival (the turf fire festival) held on the day before Adults Day is dynamic and nationally famous.
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中畑町八幡社 おまんと祭 Nakabata-chou-hachiman-sha Omanto-matsuri Omanto Festival at Hachiman Shrine in Nakahata Town

Jp En

Omanto Festival, or popularly called “Zuriuma,” dedicated to Hachiman Shrine in Nakahata Town in Nishio City, Aich Prefecture, on the 3rd Sunday in October every year is a horse festival, which used to be a coming-of-age ceremony in the old days.

In this festival, valiant young men wearing happi jackets and jikatabi shoes grab horses by the necks or the mane not to be shaken off and run with them in the riding ground with a circumference of 120 m. Spectators outside the fence shout applause at those courageous men running at full speed with galloping horses. They also whip a horse from outside the fence because it is believed to bring good luck.
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海を渡る祭礼 Umi-wo-wataru-reisai Sea Crossing Festival

Jp En

Sea Crossing Festival is held on the last weekend of July at Aoshima Shrine on Aoshima Island (Miyazaki City, Miyazaki Prefecture), a small island with a circumference of 1.5 km.

In the festival, the enshrined deities of Hikohohodemi no Mikoto, Toyotamahime no Mikoto and to Shiotsutsu no Ookami are placed on a portable shrine and brought to the legendary palace in the sea. Young men aged from 22 to 23 rush into the sea, trying to take the portable shrines off the boats and carry them back to the land.

On the first day of the festival, the parade drops in at 15 places on the island first, then the portable shrine is placed on a boat called Goza-bune and it cruises around the island accompanied by many fishing boats decked with Tairyo-bata flags that traditionally indicate a big catch, and the portable shrine is finally brought back to the island to be placed at Tenmangu Shrine during the night.

On the second day, after dropping in at 11 places on the island, the young men again start to shake the portable shrine violently and make attacks on the carriers. After the rampage and rest are repeated for some hours, the portable shrine returns to Aoshima Shrine at last. This is a highly spirited and energetic festival, the origin of which is too old to be identified.
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能面 延命冠者 Noumen Enmeikaja Noh Mask Enmei Kaja

Jp En

Enmei Kaja is a kind of the Okina (a holy old man) masks. It expresses a rich laughter with like other Okina masks but has no separate jaw part. It looks more like a male mask with young impression created by thinly drawn beard and big dimples.

As “Enmei” means “to prolong life” and “Kaja” means “an adult male,” Enmei Kaja is a man with a virtue of prolonging life. This mask is used for tsure (the companion of shite) in “Junitsuki Orai” scene of the play “Okina,” while the Chichi-no-jo mask is used for shite (the main role). The role with this mask is considered as a son of Chichi-no-jo. Enmei Kaja is sometimes used for shite in the play “Sagi.”

Like other Okina masks, it has the remnant of the Heian and Kamakura periods, when Noh had not yet been established in the present form. Enmei Kaja is a mask with people’s prayer for long life and family ever-lasting prosperity.
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江戸つまみ簪 Edo-tsumami-kanzashi Edo Tsumami Kanzashi

Jp En

Kanzashi, which are hair ornaments in traditional Japanese hir styles, came into wide use during the Edo period, when artisans in Edo (present-day Tokyo) acquired the techniques of making Hana Kanzashi in Kyoto. These kanzashi are created from squares of thin silk fabric by a technique called “tsumami-zaiku.” Each square is multiply folded and combined with another to create patterns of flowers and birds. In the middle of the Edo period, not only kanzashi but also combs and kusudama (++) were made. As these articles were beautiful in color and reasonable in price, they were favored as souvenirs. In a Ukiyoe painting that was painted between the late Edo period and the early Meiji period, a woman wearing a kanzashi that seems in tsumami-zaiku style is depicted. At the present time, Edo tsumami kanzashi are popular hair ornaments worn at some formal occasions like New Year’s Day, coming-of-age ceremonies, Shichi-Go-San and Japanese traditional dancing recitals.
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八日市大凧まつり Youkaichi-oodako-matsuri Yokaichi Giant Kite Festival

Jp En

Many kite-flying activities take place during the Yokaichi Giant Kite Festival. The Yokaichi giant kite is designated as an intangible folk cultural asset.

Yokaichi giant kite-flying started 300 years ago in the mid-Edo period. Kites were flown to celebrate the birth of a boy. For this reason, kite-flying is similar to the display of koinobori on Boy's Day, an important event in Japan. Nowadays, over 100 kites are flown, and they are even flown to celebrate a young person's coming of age.

Yokaichi giant kites are designed with 'hanjimon otako', which features pictures of fishes and birds in the upper section with words written in red to illustrate meanings. This kite, in a sense, is rare because it has cut-out sections that help to diminish resistance from wind. Flying these giant kites involves balancing the strength of the strings with the size of the kite.

The Yokaichi Giant Kite Festival is held annually on the 4th Sunday of May in Aichi-gawa.
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着付け Kitsuke Kitsuke (the art of kimono dressing)

Jp En

Kitsuke is the art to wear or dress someone the wafuku in a proper manner. The wafuku is traditional Japanese clothing or the national costume of Japan. Different from the steric western-style clothing, the wafuku or kimono consists of flat pieces of cloth, which requires the distinctive art of dressing to prevent one from getting loose. The rules to dress the kimono differ by gender, age, marriage status, or the event. There are even more precise rules are fixed in the case of happy events and funerals. There are also several schools in Kitsuke, among which there are minor differences in the way of tying obi-belts or using small accessories, but no major difference in the way of dressing kimono itself. Today few people wear the kimono in their daily life, so on occasions when people wear the kimono for a special event such as a New Year’s Day or the Coming-of-Age ceremony, they visit an expert to have their kimono dressed.
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