Chigo-mai Dance held at Kamo Shrine is a traditional folk performing art handed down in Shimomura town in Imizu City, Toyama Prefecture since the ancient times. Shimomura Kamo Shrine was founded in 1066 in the manor possessed by Kamo Mioya Shrine in Kyoto.
Chigo-mai Dance is performed on September 4th as a part of the shrine’s annual festival, in which four boys, aged from 10 to 11, dedicate nine dances such as “Hoko-no-mai,” “Hayashi-uta,” “Kocho-no-mai” and “Ama-no-mai” to thank for rich harvest and pray for national peace and safety of families. Still innocent-looking little boys in imperial court style costume and with serious countenance dance elegantly on the tentatively built stage. Along with elegant tunes of music played on the stage, their performances lead the spectators to the world of the nobility at the Heian court.
One of Ryukyu's famous toys, the 'hariko', known as the bringer of good luck, is sold at the toy bazaar held on the day of the Yukkanuhi (the fourth day of the fifth month on the lunar calendar).
The skills for crafting the hariko were brought here from Japan after the 17th century. The original target for the hariko were children from upper-class families. By the Meiji period, though, the hariko had become a popular and affordable toy for the average child.
Okinawan hariko were influenced by the Ryukyu Kingdom, continental China, and by their own inland cultures. These multiple influences fused in the distinctive shapes and rich colors of the hariko.
Other Ryukyu toys, such as pinwheels made from the leaf of Adan, puppets made from the nut of the Sago palm, and butterfly-shaped kites also show the same subtle charm combined with various influences.
Over the times, plastic and tin toys replaced the popularity of the Ryukyu toys, though each toy still shows expression and tender warmness and is appreciated by many people
Mt. Asahidake located in the center of Hokkaido is the main peak of the Daisetsu mountain range. Although it is 2,290 m above sea level, the ecological conditions of the mountain is similar to those of 3,000-meter-class mountains in Honshu. This is because the mountain is located at high latitude.
Swamp plants grow in Tennyogahara Field and over 40 species of alpine plants can be seen in Sugatami-no-ike Pond and its surrounding area. The area is known as a habitat of rare species of insects such as Eversmann's Parnassian, which is a national Natural Monument and can be found only in the Daisetsu mountain range, and 6 other species of alpine butterflies as well as of wild animals such as northern pikas (Ochotona hyperborea yesoensis) and Ezo deer.
As the aerial tramway service is provided from Asahidake Hot Spring in Higashikawa-cho to Sugatami-no-ike Pond, a lot of visitors come to enjoy hiking without much difficulty.
Various flowers come into bloom in summer, which look like a huge flowerbed in the garden of grand nature. Covered with crimson foliage, it displays magnificent scenery in fall; while it looks breathtakingly beautiful when covered with white snow in winter.
This pagoda was constructed in 1328 at the end of the Kamakura period. It houses the statues of Dainichi Nyorai and the attendants, which are designated as the Important Cultural Properties of Onomichi City, Hiroshima Pref. The images of Shingon Hasso (the eight founder of the Shingon sect) are painted on the walls. Compared with other Tahoto pagodas, this pagoda is relatively large in size. It is characterized by the large rotund, white, plaster-covered form extending above the lower roof. Detailed decorations are given to the nosings that appear as an extension of a tie beam of the lower story and the bracket arms and the tail rafters of the upper roof. Gorgeous brattishing with peony flowers and arabesque design is given to the frog-leg struts. Its well-balanced shape is comparable to the excellent pagodas at Koya-san Kongosanmai-in Temple or Ishiyamadera Temple. As the structure representing the late Kamakura-period architecture, the pagoda is designated as a National treasure.
Shiryokaku Fort is a National Historic Site located in Jinkawa-cho, Hakodate City, Hokkaido. The name comes from its four-pointed shape like a butterfly. In 1868, the Ezo Republic (Hakodate Government) occupied Goryokaku Fort, but was obliged to retreat, being attacked by the Imperial government forces. Shiryokaku was a Western-style fort, which was constructed for the back defense of Goryokaku. It was built on the hill, from which the rebellion forces could command a view of Hakodate, the main battle field of the time. Under the direction of Keisuke Otori and Captain Brunet, it was constructed only in two weeks by mobilizing 200 fugitive soldiers and 100 local people. However the fort fell only in a few hours by the full-scale attack of the Imperial forces. At the present time, the site of the ruin is arranged into a park and only the restored earthworks remain.
Yuko Tamanaha was born in 1936 in Ishigaki, Okinawa Prefecture. In 1996, he was designated as a Living National Treasure for his 'bingata' dyeing work.
Bingata is a splendid dyeing craft that symbolises the culture of the Ryukyu dynasty. Its color reflects the colors of Okinawan nature. Professional artists compete with each other to succeed and pursue these traditional skills. And Bingata is a dyeing craft that is unique to Okinawa.
Tamanaha studied dyeing under Eiki Shiroma, the 14th in the Shiroma family and one of the three head families of Bingata. When he was 34, Tamanaha began to send his work to exhibitions and received many prizes for excellence.
His career is brilliant but his work is a steady repetition of tasks. The handiwork requires finesse and endurance and considerable effort leads to beautiful work.
Tamanaha is now engaged in making bingata with his family at his studio: the Tamanaha Bingata Institute in the village of Yomitan.
Masami Isoi was born in 1926 in Takamatsu, Kagawa Prefecture. In 1985, his 'kinma' work was designated as an important intangible cultural heritage and he became a Living National Treasure.
Kinma is a decorating skill for lacquerwork that involves special patterns that are incised and filled with color.
Masami Isoi's father Joshin Isoi is known as the 'father' of Sanuki-urushi-chuko. He is also designated as a Living National Treasure for his original technique of kinma dot carving. Kinma dot carving was invented by Joshin, who developed the idea of the technique from old photos.
Joshin's kinma style is more feathery than Masami's. Masami's pieces have 'both a contemporary look and the classical feel of traditional urushi'. Masami expresses imaginary scenes using butterflies and plants that are mentioned in the 'Manyoshu' ('Collection of Myriad Leaves').