NIPPON Kichi - 日本吉

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拝島大師 だるま市 Haijima-daishi Daruma-ichi The Dharma Market at Haijima Daishi

Jp En

Haijima Daishi is a common name for a Tendai sect temple in Haijima-cho, Akishima City, Tokyo. It is formally named Hongakuji Temple. The main object of worship is Jie Daishi Ryogen, or Gansan Daishi, who was the 18th Tendai Zasu (the leader of the sect). The temple was one of the 8 temples to worship Dainichi Nyorai, which were dedicated in 1578 by Ishikawa Tosanokami in appreciation for his daughter, Onei, having recovered from an eye disease. The temple is known for getting rid of bad luck.

The Dharma Market is held at this temple on January 2nd and 3rd every year because January 3rd is the memorial day of Jie Daishi. The dharma market is called “Tama Daruma” and about 600 dharma doll vendors set up the stalls along the front approach. As a Japanese proverb goes “Nanakorobi, Yaoki” meaning “To fall seven times, to rise eight times,” a dharma doll is a lucky often purchased on New Year’s Day. During the market days, the temple is thronged with visitors who come for the year’s first worship at the temple and for buying dharma dolls.
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ベンガラ Bengara Bengara

Jp En

Bengara is inorganic red pigment whose main ingredient is iron oxide, Fe2O3, and it is the oldest coloring agent known to mankind.
Bengara is written弁柄, in some cases紅殻, in Kanji and is also known as Indian Red and Venetian Red.
Bengara was thought to be introduced from China, via the Korean peninsula, into Okinawa. The name Bengara was believed to have been derived from Bengal, the Indian province that most of the iron oxide came from.
Bengara’s ingredient, iron oxide Fe2O3, was produced naturally more than any other iron oxide based coloring agents. However because its mineral composition is very similar to that of red rust from iron, nowadays artificially composed dyes have become more common than naturally produced ones.  Nariwa-cho, Takahashi, Okayama Prefecture, is the only remaining place in Japan that still produces Bengara naturally.
In ancient time, Bengara was rare and much treasured as a noble color. Shuri Castle in Okinawa is known to have Bengara red color. Because Bengara was superior for coloring and sealing as well as resistant to heat and water, it was applied to wooden buildings to prevent aging damage.
The color of Bengara might lack certain brightness more common in other red based pigments, but its flamboyance today still keeps holding people’s affection.
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熊野堂舞楽 Kumano-dou-bugaku Kumanodo Bugaku

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Kumanodo Bugaku is a folk performing art performed at the annual spring festival of Kumano Shrine in Takadate Kumanodo, Natori city, Yamagata Prefecture. Bugaku is a repertoire of dances of the Japanese Imperial court, derived from traditional dance forms imported from China, Korea, and India.

It is said that the Bugaku dance was introduced to the Kumanodo area by the Hayashi family in Risshakuji Temple in Yamadera, Yamagata City, Yamagata Prefecture, but there is no precise records concerning its origin. The Hayashi family was the hereditary musician family serving the Japanese Imperial Court. As the Hayashi family moved to present Yamagata Prefecture before Bugaku was japanized in the mid-Heian period, the old dancing style of the imported dance has been precisely handed down in the Kumanodo Bugaku dance. It is designated as a prefecture’s folk cultural property.

In the Kumanodo Bugaku dance, neither dialog nor words are employed in the dances and songs. It is a kind of pantomime in dedication to the god. Although it has an origin in the Shinto dance, it also has several features of the dances performed by Shugendo practitioners.

The 3.6 m square temporary stage is built over the pond in the precinct. In back of the stage, the ensemble composed of one drum, one pair of large clappers and one Japanese flute play the music.
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棉祖祭 Men-so-sai Menso-sai (Cotton Festival)

Jp En

Tenjiku Shrine in Tenjiku Town in Nishio City, Aichi Prefecture, is the only shrine in Japan which enshrines Niihadakami, the god of cotton.

In 799 in the early Heian period, a Tenjiku-jin (Indian) drifted ashore to the beach of Nishio with cotton seeds. He lived in a village, which was later named Tenjiku Village, and gave the villagers the cotton seeds as a token of his appreciation. Unfortunately, the seeds did not grow well due to the climatic conditions, but Tenjiku Village is considered the birthplace of cotton in Japan.

After his death, the village people had worshipped his portrait as Koso-shin (the god of cotton). In 1883 in the Meiji period, when a shrine was to be founded in this village, people created the name “Niihadakami” for the god of cotton and enshrined it as their guardian god.

In Menso-sai held in October every year, local people carry boat-shaped portable shrine called Funa-mikoshi, reenacting the scene of the god’s drifting ashore. Also, the traditional rite of Watauchi (cotton beating) is performed by priests. The shrine is crowded with visitors including people from the cotton industry.
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補陀洛山寺 Fudaraku-san-ji Fudarakusanji Temple

Jp En

Fudarakusanji Temple located near Nachi Beach in Wakayama Pref. is known for Fudaraku Tokai, a trip to Kannon Jodo, which was imagined to be in the southern ocean. In Fudaraku Tokai, the chief monks called “Tokai Shonin” would set out to sea alone from Nachi beach on a small boat with only a little food. This practice was performed from the Heian period (794-1192) to the middle of Edo period (1603-1867). Those monks are worshipped at this temple. This temple was founded by Ragyo Shonin (literally meaning the Naked Saint), who came from India during the reign of Emperor Nintoku around 1700 years ago. The temple had once so flourished that there were so many temple buildings until the Edo period. In 1808, all the buildings were destroyed by a natural disaster. The present Main Hall was what was rebuilt in Muromachi Style in 1990. The principal image, Senju Kannon (Kannon with 1,000 arms) is designated as a National Important Cultural Property.
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土舞台 Tuchi-butai Tsuchi Butai

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Tsuchi Butai is a historic site located in Abe mountain castle ruins, Sakurai City, Nara Pref. In 612, Prince Shotoku assembled boys at this place to give them lessons of Gigaku (Japanese ancient theatrical performance) that a Korean musician Mimashi had mastered in China. Gigaku is a kind of dance drama wearing masks. In the Nara period this theatrical art was so prosperous that there were Gigaku performers employed by the Imperial court and it made a great contribution to the development of Japanese theatrical plays. Tsuchi Butai is in this sense the birthplace of Japanese performing art. A modern literary critic, Yasuda Yojuro, introduced this place as the oldest National Theater in Japan, and the ceremony to throw light on its hidden contribution was held in 1972. Since then, Kagari-Noh (Noh by the light of burning torches) has been performed every year in memory of this ceremony.
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猿回し Saru-mawashi Monkey Show

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Saru Mawashi in Japanese means 'monkey show' and is a street performance using a monkey.
The history of Saru Mawashi in Japan is long and dates back to its introduction from India via China. A monkey was supposed to be a guardian of a horse, which was important for samurai. Monkeys were kept in a stable and a monkey showman served generals.
'Monkey' is pronounced 'saru', which means 'leave' in Japanese. So, a monkey was believed to be able to remove your misfortune which is why they performed on New Year or at festivals all over Japan.
There are many different kinds of monkey performances because monkeys can imitate human actions like 'folding your legs under yourself', 'standing at attention' and 'reflection'. Monkeys can also do tightrope walking, pass through a ring and walk on stilts.
In 1963, the monkey show died out when the last monkey showman retired. But in 1977, the Suo Monkey Showa Association was revived and they continue to spread the show as an Intangible Folk Cultural Asset in Hikari, Yamaguchi Prefecture.
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福島 霊山 Fukushima Ryouzen Fukushima Ryozen Mountain

Jp En

Ryozen Mountain has an elevation of 825 meters and is designated a National Historical Relic Site as well as a Prefectural Natural Park.

The mountain was spiritually opened by Ennin (also known as Jikaku-daishi), the Zasu of Enryaku Temple of Mt Hiei in Kyoto. The name Ryozen comes from Mt Ryojusen (also known as Gridhakuta) in India.

Ryozen Mountain was founded by Ennin during the early Heian period, and prospered as a hub temple of the Tendai Sect. Found just north of the Abukuma Mountains, it is a roughly shaped rock mountain.

Formerly known as a mountain of Shugendo, the remains of Gomandan can be found inside the mountain. In addition, downtown Fukushima, Date-gun and Date City can be seen from the Western Observation Rock, whilst downtown Soma, Soma-gun and the Pacific Ocean can be seen from the Eastern Observation Rock. The mountain is also known for its beautiful autumn leaves.
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