NIPPON Kichi - 日本吉

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博多祇園山笠 Hakata-gion-yamakasa Hakata Gion Yamakasa

Jp En

The Hakata Gion Yamakasa festival is held every July in Hakata-ku, Fukuoka. Legend has it that in 1241, there was a plague in Hakata. To drive it away, Shouichi Kokushi Bennen, the then resident priest at Shouten Temple, rode on a wooden 'segakidana' (rack for carrying the dead) around the city sprinkling holy water everywhere. This became the start of the Hakata Gion Yamakasa festival.

One theory has it that the shape of the 'segakidana' developed over the years to become what is now known as a 'yamakasa' (the circular festival floats), but this is one theory of many and nobody is sure why the floats have this shape.

The climax of the festival is a race, called 'oiyama' (mountain chasing), between teams of men carrying the floats. Many people from surrounding cities come to see it.

The Hakata Gion Yamakasa festival is one of the three great Gion festivals of Japan, and is also a dedication rite at the Kushida Shrine, acting as a spiritual barrier against evil for the city of Hakata. This gallant traditional event is designated as an Intangible Ethnic Cultural Treasure.
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大阪天満宮 Osaka-Tenmanguu Osaka Tenmangu Shrine

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The origin of the Osaka Tenmangu Shrine dates back to a political figure Sugawara Michizane from the mid-Heian period. In 901, Fujiwara Tokihira, a political opponent secured the demoting of Michizane to Dazai Prefecture. On his way to Dazai, he visited Taishogun Shrine, which still exists.
   At Michizane's death, a series of ominous events occurred, such as plague, the death of a prince, and a bolt of thunder striking Seiryo-den (the emperor's residence). The Imperial Court, believing these events to be a curse from Michizane, reinstated his honor.
   A strange story spread in Kyoto that, in 949, seven pine trees suddenly appeared at Taishogun Shrine and gave off an unusual light. The Murakami Emperor heard this story and decided to build a Tenmangu shrine dedicated to Michizane. This is the Osaka Tenmangu Shrine.
   The present main building was rebuilt in 1843 in Gongen-style, and has a late-Edo spirit. The tasteful paintings on the sliding doors are by Michihiko Tsubata or Kochu Ueda. These commemorate the shrine's 1,025th anniversary in 1927.
   Every year on the 24th July, the shrine holds the Tenjin Festival, one of Japan's three major festivals and one of Osaka's three major summer festivals.
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御嶽山 Ontakesan Mount Ontake

Jp En

Mount Ontake is an active single peak volcano that lies 3,067m above sea level between the boundaries of Nagano and Gifu Prefectures. It is also designated as one of Japan’s 100 famous mountains. Mount Fuji, Hakusan and Mount Onntake have been, since ancient times, giants who have towered over believers, commanding fear and awe. Since the 5th year of the Hoki period (774) when the ruler of the State of Shinano, Nobuashi Ishikawa enshrined the two Gods, Oomunachinomikoto and Sukunahikonanomikoto, and prayed for the purification of the land from plague, the mountain has thrived as a dojo for monks. Even now, people dressed in white can be seen heading for the shrine at the peak to show their faith and have their wishes granted. Mount Onntake is also famous for mountain climbing, skiing, and other attractions that draw many tourists to its slopes every year.
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