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2008/1/8


大豆坂地蔵尊 Oomamesaka-jizou-son Omamezaka Jizo-son

Jp En

Japan’s largest Jizo Bosatsu statue with a height of 4 m is enshrined at the side of National Route 4 in Sanbongi Town in Osaki City, Miyagi Prefecture. It was erected in 1765 in the Edo period to appease the souls of the criminals who were burned at the stake. Beside the statue is another smaller Jizo Bosatsu holding babies under both arms. Today, a lot of families visit this place to pray for children’s growth and fine health.

In April every year, a festival is dedicated to this Jizo Bosatsu. The Chigo (children in ancient costumes) parade and the traffic safety campaign parade, in which 200 local organizations participate, are held in the town. Spectators along the road applaud and cheer on the children wearing elegant costumes and walking proudly hand in hand with their mothers.
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2007/12/7


春国岱 Syunkuni-tai Shunkunitai

Jp En

Shunkunitai located in Nemuro Peninsula in the eastern part of Hokkaido is a huge sandbar, 8km long by 1.3km wide, which divides the Sea of Okhotsk and Lake Furen. On the accumulated three lined dunes, there are many kinds of natural surroundings such as seashores, grasslands, marshes, forests and mudflats. Providing fine natural environment for various kinds of wildlife, it looks like a floating forest.

Its academic importance is highly esteemed. In the center of the dune is the greatest Ramanas rose (Rosa rugosa) colonies, which continues 3 km. In the wetland along the sea is the breeding ground of red-crowned cranes. White-tailed eagles inhabit here, for there are abundant fish in the ocean near the sandbar range. Shunkunitai is one of the nation's eminent paradises for wildfowl.
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2007/11/16


【秋・龝】 Shuu Autumn

Jp En

This character means the season called autumn. The same in antiquity as now, its characteristic, the harvest is which is reflected in the grain-classifier. The part of the character apart from the left part shows the burning of harmful insects.
In the original character form, the fire is positioned below. It is the most effective position for exposing the larvae or insect’s eggs to fire. The original character form can be seen for the first time in the tortoise plastron and bone characters. The proper original character has the 灬 four dots fire element below the 龜 ‘insect’ of 龝 but has now come to be called ‘variant character’ (with a nuance of abnormality). Nevertheless, it shows the original meaning of the character more clearly. From the present Common Use Kanji 秋 the mutual relation of the character elements cannot be correctly understood. It has become an abbreviation which completely excludes the fire’s role of burning harmful insects. In the original character the four dots fire element is appropriately positioned below the character element representing the insect. Agriculture had already considerably developed in the Yīn (Shāng) period, and ashes and excrements were already used as manure. Rice stem borers and locusts could not be ignored. As grown insects easily flee, the fire most probably was rather directed at the larvae adhering to the rice plants or crops. The original character form also conveys a certain symbolic meaning as, there seems to have been a profound relationship to a seasonal ritual.
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2007/8/13


高の瀬峡 紅葉 Takanosekyou Kouyou Takanose Valley's Autumn Foliage

Jp En

A beautiful view of autumn leaves may be seen from late October to early November in Takanose Valley near Naga in Tokushima Prefecture.

This sight became famous in 1980, when it received the most votes in a poll for the 100 (Best) Tourist Spots in Tokushima. The poll was part of the commemoration of the prefecture’s 100th anniversary.

'Kouyou-no-nishiki' (a tapestry of autumn leaves) became the specialty of this region, along with the Kitou cedar and the Kitou yuzu.

The autumn leaves cover the sharply-sloping sides of the valley, which was formed by the headstreams of the Nakagawa River. This magnificent view stuns all those who see it. The turning maple leaves are especially beautiful, making the valley the best-loved scenic spot in Shikoku.

In other seasons, too, Takanose Valley is attractive for the tender green leaves of spring, the deep green leaves of summer, and the snow-covered landscapes of winter. This makes the area appealing to tourists all year round.
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2007/8/6


くしふる神社大祭 Kushifuru-jinja-taisai Kushifuru-jinjya Shrine Festival

Jp En

Kushifuru-jinjya Shrine Festival takes place every October at Kushifuru-jinjya Shrine in Mitai, Takachiho-cho, Nishiusuki-gun, Miyazaki Prefecture.
It is not known when Kushifuru-jinjya Shrine was first worshiped. Initially it didn’t have a built structure and the entire Kushifuru mountain was seen as an object of worship. It was 1694 when the devotion of  Nobeoka Clan and the villagers led to the building of the shrine. The deity of the shrine is Amatsuhikohikohononinigi-no-mikoto.
The biggest attraction of the festival is a long parade that consists of over 600 people including portable shrines and brass bands in a procession 2.6 km round trip from Kushifuru-jinjya Shrine to Takachiho-jinjya Shrine through the center of the town.
A Sumo wrestling tournament, which has taken place for over 350 years, occurs in the precincts of the shrine. Also babies compete with their loud cries for good health in “Unari Sumo”. Parades by groups with stick weapons and brass bands and archery tournaments are also held.
Kushifuru-jinjya Shrine Festival is a valiant festival proud of its long tradition.
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2007/7/23


オホーツク海の流氷 ohotsuku-kai-no-ryuuhyou Drift Ice on the Okhotsk Sea

Jp En

The Okhotsk Sea in Hokkaido is famous for drift ice in winter. In the most severe season, 80 percent of the sea is covered with drift ice. In mid-November, drift ice starts forming at points where the Amur River to the north in Sakhalin flows into the sea. This drift ice expands in the north wind and travels with the currents some 2000km south to arrive near Abashiri by mid-January.

Because fresh water runs from the Amur River into the Okhotsk Sea, the surface of the sea here is less salty. Sea water with less salt freezes more easily, thus forming drift ice.

This ice, born in the far north sea, brings rich plankton, which is fed on by sea creatures such as hairy crab, salmon, trout and scallop.

As far as you can see, the drift ice forms a field of white that is completely silent without the sound of waves. Drift ice on the Okhotsk Sea is a poetic world produced by mysterious nature.
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2007/7/11


雛祭り Hina-matsuri Hina Matsuri

Jp En

On March 3 each year, Hina Matsuri, or Girl's Day, is held at home to pray for the growth and happiness of daughters.
  
Hina Matsuri is one of five seasonal festivals in Japan and the origin of the festival is as a purification ceremony held in March.
  
In Japan, dolls were used to drive evil spirits out and this custom came to be connected with toy dolls used in 'Hina Plays'. The hina dolls were decorated and became the basis for the Hina Matsuri.
  
Lozenge-shaped rice cakes are one of the offerings made at the festival. One of the base ingredients, mugwort, is supposed to remove negative energies. White sake is offered, too, and is supposed to purify the body. A clam is also offered to pray for a good match for the girl who will fit like two parts of a shell. Many other lucky things are offered to pray for the girl's growth.
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