When it comes to explaining 蔑 as used in the compound 蔑視 ‘besshi: contempt,’ one has to go back to the curse rituals and ways of war of the Yīn (Shāng) dynasty.
Usually, the grass-classifier above indicates a plant. Here, however, it has to be seen as a unit formed together with 目 ‘eye’ in horizontal position. This unit means a female shaman of another people. As in the above character explanation of 寛 ‘kan,’ it shows the head of a female shaman with curse decoration above the eyes or eyebrows. The lower part 戌 means a weapon (halbard). The character as a whole shows the head of a hostile female shaman cut off with a halberd.
Pioneer forces formed by female shamans usually had the duty of spiritually intimidating the opponents.
The Japanese language has the reading 蔑ろ ‘naigashiro (ni suru: to despise, to neglect),’ which originates on the background of killing the shaman to destroy her curse power.
In common with 婦, the basic character of 掃 is 帚. The 扌 hand classifier was only added considerably later. The first form in the tortoise plastron and bone characters is extremely simple; it clearly is just the form of a 箒 ‘hôki: broom.’ As the tortoise plastron and bone characters were created by a group of ancient clerics the cleaning this character originally refers to should be imagined as a sacred act or duty. It was humbly conducted in the mausoleum for worshiping the ancestors. Besides using the broom for sweeping as is done in the present, it was established etiquette to sprinkle well-smelling liquor with the broom for exorcising and purifying the mausoleum. It may be compared to the present burning of incense for the ancestors.
The upper part of the unabbreviated character 帚 shows a hand, and the middle line extending to the right shows the part of the hand including the joint which is especially important when sweeping. In the shortened character form of the Common Use Character, however, nearly only the fingers remain. 帚 also appears in 歸, the older character of 帰 ‘kaeru: return.’ It shows military returning from war at the ritual of reporting at the mausoleum bringing worship meat. At this time, there also was the custom of exorcising and purifying the mausoleum with a broom and liquor.
This character which came to have the meaning ‘koyomi: calendar’ shares its background with 歴, a character with the same origin. Both have a military background, showing an official commendation for meritorious deeds in war held below a 厂 precipice. Frequently, the final decisive battle was also the day of the termination of war. After victory, the individual merits of the soldiers were commended. This day became the memorial day of the end of war in calendars. All over the world, this way of thinking about memorial days seems to not have changed a lot since this origination of Kanji since 3000 years ago.
Places below precipices often were places for rituals. They were thought of as very strongly spiritual places. A gate was made with two 禾 marking trees below a precipice.
Although in other places the form taken is that of architecture made from stone, like in Europe, e.g. in Rome, the cities of the Roman Empire, later also the arc de triomphe in Paris, and with other triumphal arches, the custom of erecting military gates commemorating victory in war also can be seen in other parts of the world.
As this character is related to dating, the element 曰 below is likely to be misunderstood as representing that for 日 ‘sun, day.’ Here, however, as the military gate was made below the precipice and as this shows the communication with the gods, it shows 曰, read ‘etsu’ in Japanese, originally a receptacle for ‘norito,’ prayer writings to the gods.
Nishinomiya Shrine stands in the middle of Nishinomiya City, Hyogo Prefecture, in the part of the city known to produce one of the highest-quality sake brands - Nadagogou. Nishinomiya Shrine is the head Ebisu shrine that presides over more than 3,500 Ebisu shrines. It is also commonly known as “Nishinomiya no Ebe-ssan”.
It is not known when the shrine was first founded, however, it appeared in a document from 1172, suggesting it already existed at that time. It was during the Muromachi Period, when the Seven Lucky Gods became widely popular and songs and plays related to them were broadly shown nationally. At that time, Ebisu, who was a deity of wealth and one of the Seven Lucky Gods, came to be known and worshiped all over the country. The Ebisu dance performed in front of the Nishinomiya Shrine is said to be the foundation of the Oosaka Bunraku and Awaji Puppet Theaters.
The Toyotomi Family and the Tokugawa Family, the subsequent leaders of Japan, also embraced and protected the shrine and Ebisu worship and, as local commerce developed, Ebisu became deeply rooted and honored as the deity of prosperity in business.
The shrine was destroyed by fire during the Second World War and restored fully in 1961. The Ooneribei wall, built during the Muromachi Period and the Omote Daimon gate in the Momoyama architectural style are designated as National Important Cultural Assets.
For three days at the beginning of each year, from January 9th through 11th, a big festival called “Touka Ebisu” is held and the shrine becomes filled with more than 1 million visitors.
Naminoue-guu is a shrine that stands in Naha City, Okinawa Prefecture, and it is regarded as the main guardian of Okinawa. Naminoue (translated as “on top of waves”) is, as name suggests, located on the top of a hill overlooking the waters of the East China Sea.
There is no record of its foundation but it is said to have originated from a Niraikana belief, a utopia believed in Okinawa. In the 14th century, as a result of divine revelation, the Ryuukyuu government built the Namino-guu Shrine to honor the Kunamo Three Deities. The shrine was entirely destroyed in the Second World War, but it was restored due to the efforts of an association of people from Hawaii and Okinawa.
As visitors walk toward the entrance path and pass under two torii gates, they come to a towering vermillion building with a pair of stone-carved, vermilion-colored guardian dogs, one on each side. The dogs look similar to Seesaa, a legendary creature that drives evil spirits away. Inside the shrine complex there are two small shrines: Ukishima Shrine that worships Amaterasu-oomikami and Yomochi Shrine that worships the deity associated with business and industry. In the vicinity of the Naminoue-guu Shrine are Gokoku-ji Temple and Confucius Mausoleum. As it is also close to the town center, the shrine is a popular destination for residents and it attracts many visitors celebrating the New Year in Okinawa’s own original style.
The Lake Suwa Festival Fireworks Display held on August 15 every year is one of the major fireworks displays in Japan. It started in 1949 as the anniversary commemorating the end of World War II. The festival stars with silent prayer for the victims of the war at 7:00 PM. Then 42,000 fireworks are launched from the launching pads built on the lake including Hatsushima Islet.
The fireworks reflected on the surface of the lake are also wonderful. Highlights are Water Starmine with large semicircles bursting open one after another and the 2 km long Niagara Falls across the lake. Since Lake Suwa serves as basin form, the exploding sounds of fireworks echo with surrounding mountains, which creates overwhelming sound effect.
Nagano Prefecture is ranked first in production of fireworks in Japan, thereby a lot of pyrotechnists live in this prefecture and thus Lake Suwa fireworks are notable for their pyrotechnics.
Matsue Suigo Festival is held in early August in Matsue City, in the eastern end of Shimane Prefecture. Located almost at the center of the coastline in the Sanin region, Matsue had long been a thriving castle town during the Edo period (1603-1868), the remnant of which can still be seen everywhere in the city. Surrounded by water, as is called “a city of water,” and blessed with an abundance of beautiful natural scenery including Lake Shinji, Matsue was designated as an International Culture and Sightseeing City.
The Suigo Festival, first held in 1929, is a representative festival of this city of water. A diverse range of events are held, including the main event of the spectacular fireworks display over the lake and the Soriko boat race. Although the festival was discontinued during World War II, it was renewed and revived with the present name in 1987 and has been enjoyed by a lot of tourists from inside and outside the prefecture every year.
The festival is culminated with the fireworks display, in which more than 9,000 fireworks are shot up over Lake Shinji. The most impressive ones are the simultaneous shooting of the two fireworks from the two boats on in the lake and the slant shooting of Starmines, which gorgeously bloom up in the sky over the city of water.
Tamaudun located in Shuri Kinjo-cho, Naha City, Okinawa Pref. is a royal mausoleum of the Ryukyu Kingdom. It is a National Historic Site and was registered with UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2000.
The mausoleum was constructed by King Sho Shin in 1501. In Okinawa, there is a tradition of building a large and fine tomb to express the reverence to the ancestors. It is considered that the king had an intention of using his people’s reverence toward their ancestors for the stabilization and reinforcement of the national unity. The mausoleum is divided into three compartments laid out from east to west. The bodies were placed in the central compartment till they were skeletonized, and then the dry bones were taken out to be cleansed. After that the bones of kings and queens were placed in the eastern compartment and the other members of the royal family in the western compartment.
Although Tamaudun was severely damaged by Battles of Okinawa, it was restored to the present form after the World War II. Tamaudun was a sacred place of the ancient Ryukyu Kingdom.