NIPPON Kichi - 日本吉

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河内祭・御船祭 Kouchi-matsuri Mifune-matsuri Kouchi Festival

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Kouchi Festival takes place at Koza, Kushimoto-cho, Wakayama prefecture on July 24th and 25th each year. It is also known as “Mifune-matsuri”, or Boating Festival, and is held on the banks of the Koza River. The festival is designated as an important intangible folklore cultural asset by the Japanese government.  
The festival dates back to the Gempei War in 12th century when the naval forces of  Kumano who fought for Genji Clan celebrated their victory at Kouchi Shrine. The festival replicates the triumphal return of the military force.
Three boats decorated with vividly colored battle cloth, mizuhiki paper strings,  spears, halberds and lanterns enter the river after the opening ceremony at the Koza Shrine and slowly move up to Seisho Island where Kouch Daimyoujin, the local deity, is enshrined. The boat takes two days to reach the island and therefore all prayers and offerings take place on the 25th.
Shishi dances are demonstrated in the town and an exciting boat race called “Kaitenma Kyousou” is undertaken by junior high school students further enchanting the crowd.
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祝儀袋 Syuugi-bukuro Celebration Envelopes

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Celebration Envelopes (shuugi bukuro) are specially designed paper packets for holding gift-money presented at someone's celebration. There are fine rules depending on the event celebrated: marriage, childbirth, or birthday.
   In the old Shinto religion, dedications to gods were wrapped in paper, and this is said to be the origin of the Celebration Envelope.
   Usually, a paper sash called 'noshigami' is attached to the outside of the folded paper pocket, which is then tied with strings called 'mizuhiki'. On the front, the title of the celebration and the words 'motegaki' are written by brush.
   Today, Celebration Envelopes complete with the noshigami, mizuhiki and omotegaki are available, even at convenience stores. But the custom of Celebration Envelopes demonstrates a certain Japanese finesse and we should preserve this tradition.
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水引 Mizuhiki Mizuhiki

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Mizuhiki is decorative paper twine often tied around an envelope containing a monetary gift on an occasion of celebration or sorrow.  Mizuhiki is made from washi (traditional Japanese paper) cut into long thin strips which have been twisted into string. It is then stiffened by coating with glue. It originated as long ago as in the Asuka period (6 - 8 century) when it was used to tie an offering during religious services.
Often one or two combinations of colors are used in Mizuhiki which is said to be originally based on the ancient Japanese dress code of social standing or the Chinese Yin and Yang principles. Each color, number of twines used, and the way of tying has a subtle but significant meaning. Though there are regional differences, in many cases, a combination of red and white or gold and silver is used for an occasion of celebration while black and white or silver and white for a more somber or sorrowful event. A bow tie Mizuhiki, which can be retied easily, means “we want this joyful celebration to happen again many times”. Expressing ones feelings discreetly through Mizuhiki is a beautiful Japanese tradition.
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"Nippon-kichi" leads you to places, people and things that reveal a certain Japanese aesthetic.

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