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2008/8/22


樺崎砲台跡 Kabasaki-houdai-ato The Remains of Kabasaki Battery Fortress

Jp En

The Kabasaki battery fortress was built in 1855, after clearing a mountain and reclaiming the land for construction.  It was built to protect Uwajima Bay. The battery was believed to have been planned and designed by Oomura Masujirou, who is also known as Murata Kuraroku.  He was originally a medical doctor and he later took an active role as a military leader in the closing days of the Tokugawa shogunate.
After the Ansei Purge, the ports of Japan were opened to foreign trade ships and, as a variety of foreign ships began to arrive at the ports around Setonaikai Inland Sea, neighboring clans were alerted and urged to protect their coast. Among them, the Uwajima clan and the lord Date Mumenari were especially eager to promote Fukoku Kyouhei policy.  This policy seeks to enrich the country and modernize and strengthen its military. The Kabasaki battery was one of the western style batteries constructed for this purpose.
Reclaiming the land from the sea to create the foundation for the battery involved a considerable amount of hard labor.  The fortress covers 505 square meters, with 73 square meters being a storehouse for machinery.  It includes facilities for the firing and storage of explosives as well as five big bronze batteries.
What remains of the fortress is preserved next to the Uwajima City History Museum at Uwajima airport.  This airport was built on land that was reclaimed from the sea in the Showa Period (1985~1988).  The Uwajima City History Museum was once a police station and it was built in the characteristic architectural style of the Meiji Period.
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2008/7/17


札幌市時計台 Sapporo-shi-tokeidai Sapporo Clock Tower.

Jp En

Sapporo Clock Tower, or “Tokeidai,” is a symbol of Sapporo City, Hokkaido. The tower was built in 1878 as a militaly drill hall of the former Sapporo Agricultural College (now Hokkaido University). At the time of the construction, it was a bell tower without a clock. However, as the first floor was used for laboratories, the incorrect experiment data were often obtained due to the vibration caused by the ringing bell, from which the clock was installed in 1881. The clock was designated as the standard time clock of sapporo in 1888. In 1903, when Agricultural College was relocated to the place where Kokkaido University is located now, the clock tower was left out of use for some time. Then in 1906, Sapporo ward office bought the tower and removed it not by dismantling but by dragging to the present location. Being loved by the citizens of Sapporo, it was designated as a National Important Cultural Property in 1970. The improvement works were given for 4 years since 1995, and it is now used as exhibition space and a ceremony hall.
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2008/3/4


作並こけし Sakunami-kokeshi Sakunami Kokeshi

Jp En

Sakunami Kokeshi is a wooden doll and traditional craft product originating in Sakunami hot-spring area which is, along with Akiho hot-spring, the most popular resort in Sendai, Miyagi Prefecture.
Sakunami Kokeshi has a body slimmer than other kokeshi. It is generally a kind of cylindrical shape becoming gradually slimmer from shoulder to lower body.
Sakunami kokeshi has a relatively short history and is considered to begin appearing around the late Edo Period to the beginning of Meiji Period. Another characteristic that defines Sakunami Kokeshi is that it was developed in an urban area.  
Material for the kokeshi comes from naturally grown trees such as itaya, mizuki (dogwood) and aoka in the Northeast region. Those trees have a fine white texture and the wood is difficult to break, which is why the kokeshi makers use the trees.
Circular patterns are applied to the shoulder and the bottom sections of the body and  original designs of chrysanthemums are drawn between them. It is believed that the kokeshi was influenced by Toogatta Kokeshi also from the same Miyazaki Prefecture.
The kokeshi has a gentle and delicate facial expression and is far from flamboyant.  It is the simplest kokeshi of all that evokes the warmth of natural trees and is still much cherished.
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2008/1/8


北海道神宮 Hokkaidou-jinguu Hokkaido Jingu Shrine

Jp En

Hokkaido Jingu Shrine located in Miyagaoka, Chuo-ku, Sapporo City is one of the major shrines in Hokkaido. The enshrined deities are Okunitama no Kami, Onamuchi no Kami, Sukunahikona no Kami and Emperor Meiji. It was founded in 1869, when the Meiji government decided to set on the development of the land in Hokkaido and they enshrined the three deities to guard the land. In 1871, the name of this new shrine was decided as Sapporo Shrine and the construction of the buildings started. Since then the shrine has been worshipped as the guardian god of Hokkaido as well as the family god of the people living in this island. In 1964, Emperor Meiji was enshrined together and it changed the name to Hokkaido Jingu Shrine.

The precinct is known as a cherry blossom viewing spot. On the annual festival day in June, mikoshi and floats with ohayashi musicians parade in the city. The shrine is selected as “the New Ichinomiya Shrine of Ezo Province (literally meaning “a modern version of the first shrine of Ezo province)” by a civilian shrine pilgrimage group named Zenkoku Ichinomiya-Kai.
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2007/12/26


秩父銘仙 Chichibu-meisen Chichibu Meisen

Jp En

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.
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2007/12/25


小泉八雲旧居 Koizumiyakumo-Kyuukyo Lafcadio Hearn’s Old Residence

Jp En

Lafcadio Hearn, was an Irishman who was a naturalized Japanese and who took the name Koizumi Yakumo.  He is well known as the writer of such books as Kwaidan, which contains ghost stories including Hoichi the Earless and Snow Woman.  Lafcadio Hearn’s Old Residence is the house where he spent half the year, from May through November in 1891, with his new bride Setsu.  Setsu was the daughter of a samurai family from Matsue. The residence has been well preserved and few changes have been made.  It is also known as “Herun’s Old Residence”, Herun being a rendering of his name - Hearn, in Japanese Roman letters.  He loved the name and he often used it himself.
Lafcadio Hearn’s Residence  was originally built for a samurai of the Matsue Clan during the period 1716~1735. It is said that Hearn, eager to live in a samurai house, rented the residence which was unoccupied at that time.    
Hearn especially loved a room from which he could see the garden on three sides.  He enjoyed the garden so much that it was mentioned in his book Glimpses of Unfamiliar Japan.
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