Saisen is a money offering to a god and is usually offered to express gratitude when a wish is fulfilled or in general when visitors pray.
In the old days, crops such as rice were mainly offered and, in some cases, items other than food such as clothing or weapons were presented.
Later, as the monetary system was developed, other types of offerings were gradually replaced by money. In the Muromachi Period the money offertory box started to be placed in front of shrines and temples.
The oldest record of such an offertory box is one that was called sansenbitsu and placed at Tsuruoka Hachiman-guu Shrine in 1540.
Visitors usually first throw money in the box and clap hands together a few times, or if in a temple setting, join hands to pray and make a wish or express gratitude for an achievement.
There is no rule governing how much a visitor should offer. In some cases the amounts to be offered is decided by a word play. For matchmaking (“go-en” in Japanese), 5 Yen (also pronounced “go-en”) is offered, and in case of a merchant, it is 2951 Yen as it is pronounced “fukukoi” which means “brings good fortune”.
People’s wishes made to the gods seem to never change, no matter in what moment of time they live.
Originally Japan had many words to describe the moon according to its changing shape through waxing and waning. They are all elegantly named for the different phases: Shin-getsu (new moon), San-getsu (very fine moon of 2nd day), Mika-zuki (crescent, 3rd day ), Jougen no tsuki (bow shape moon of 7th day), Komochi-zuki (near full moon of 14th day), Tachimachi-zuki ( standing and waiting for the moon to appear, 17th day), Nemachi-zuki (Laying down and waiting for the moon to appear, 19th day), Ariake-zuki (morning moon, 26th day or general name after 16th) and so on.
The Moon Plate created by Mutsuko Shibata is a simple but imposing plate with a beautiful gold drizzled pattern. It has strength in its stillness. With a variety of food and seasonal ingredients available, you can enjoy the rich compliment of the two faces of the plate and food, a luxury in daily life.
You can arrange food to look like a hazy moon, or see a beam from the moon light in the golden drops. Besides being perfect to serve guests, the plate is also a good everyday item.
Large W 27 cm x D 27 cmx H 2.5 cm
Small W 15 cm x D 15 cm x H 2 cm
Daishoji is located in today's Kaga city in Ishikawa Prefecture. This was once a thriving castle town within the highly productive million-koku branch domain of the Kaga Domain.
Daishoji is a place where history and tradition live. The streets still retain a mellow and relaxed atmosphere evocative of the Edo period. At the base of the Kinjo mountain castle are the old Zen and Nichiren Buddhist temples standing side by side. Visitors come all year round to see the historical sites here.
Among the temples, Jisshouin is famous throughout Japan for its beautiful wisteria. The gilt-painted shoji screens are also magnificent. Choryu-Tei pavilion and garden, located in the grounds of the Enuma Shrine and once part of the mansion of Daishoji's 3rd lord, seem to imitate the Kenrokuen garden. Here the elaborate and detailed drawing room and tea room are interesting. This garden is designated as an important national asset.
Chinkin is the technique of decorating lacquerware by carving patterns into the lacquered surface using a special chisel called “chinkin-to,” then gold leaf or powder is inlayed into the curved design. The technique is said to have been introduced from China in the Muromachi period. It is the traditional handicraft in Wajima City, Ishikawa Pref. Fumio Mae (1940-), the holder of National Important Intangible Cultural Property (Living National Treasure) in Chinkin, studied under a master craftsman and his father, Tokuji Mae after his graduation from the Japanese Painting Department of Kanazawa College of Art in 1963. He advanced his studies in Chinkin-to chisels and even contrived his own chisels. Using a variety of excellent Chinkin techniques, he has created original, sensitive and expressive works. He is also contributing to the technical training in lacquering at the Wajima Lacquer Technique Training Center.
Although there are as many as twelve mountains bearing the name of Mt. Kuromori in Iwate Prefecture, the most famous is the one rising in the border of Morioka City and Shiwa Town. It is 837 m above sea level. Together with Mt. Asashima and Mt. Onigase, it is one of the three finest mountains in the Ogayu area, which prospered as the production center of gold during the reign of the Nanbu domain.
The mountain top is covered with red pine trees, while larch trees are growing along the forest road. They are planted after the trees were cut down for the road construction.
Although not visited by a lot of climbers, the mountain top commands a magnificent view of surrounding mountains, which include Mt. Iwate and the streets of Morioka in the north, the mountains of Kuzakai Highland and the Hayachine Mountain Range in the east, and Mt. Asashima in the close west, beyond which the mountains surrounding the Kitakami Plain, and the Ou Mountain Range in the far west.
Nikko carving is a traditional handicraft in Nikko City, Tochigi Prefecture. In 1634, the 3rd Shogun, Tokugawa Iemitsu declared that he was going to give a large-scale improvement to Toshogu Shrine, by which it was rebuilt into the present magnificent forms. Then he assembled as many as 1,680,000 workmen including miya-daiku (carpenters specialized in building temples and shrines), horimono-daiku (specialist carpenters engaged in transom sculpture), lacquerers, metal workers, and painters from all over the country. Among them, 400,000 were horimono-daiku and what they made at their leisure was the origin of the present Nikko carving.
After the construction of Toshogu Shrine, some of the horimono-daiku settled in the town of Nikko and were engaged in repair work or improvement work of Toshogu, while kept on making wooden trays or furniture, which were sold to sightseers as souvenirs. Since the Meiji period (1868-1912), a large number of Nikko carved products have been exported.
Most of the products are made of chestnut wood. Nikko carving products have a warm feeling of wood and a nice taste that is created by careful handiwork. There are also expensive products made with Tsuishu technique, in which thick layers of solid lacquer is engraved with designs.
Izumozaki Town in Niigata Prefecture was under direct Tokugawa supervision as “tenryo (Tokugawa Shogunate landholdings)” during the Edo period (1603-1868). It was a prosperous town as the landing port of gold that was mined from Sado Island as well as the traffic center of the Hokkoku Kaido Road that connected Edo and Sado Island.
Tenryo Festival held in October every year in Izumozaki is a gorgeous festival redolent of the prosperity of the town in the old times. A variety of events including the stall food court are held in the area of streets temporarily closed to vehicular traffic. The old houses in tsumairi-style (with an entrance in a gable end) typical to the Edo-period townscape in this area are preserved in a good state in this area.
The main event of the festival is a reenactment of a procession of “Junkenshi (representatives of the Shogun).” On the way of the procession, Junkenshi inspect the disembarkation of gold and silver that was brought from Sado Island and bringing the load into the storehouse and they set off for Edo via Hokkoku Kaido Road on the next day to bring it back to the Shogun.
Kanazakura Shrine is located in Mitake-cho, Kofu City, Yamanashi Prefecture. Enshrined are five deities including Susanoo-no Mikoto, Yamato Takeru no Mikoto and Sukunahikona no Mikoto. Known as the birthplace of crystal in Japan, it enshrines crystal balls as the sacred treasure. It is said that the original shrine was founded during the reign of Emperor Sujin (97-30 B.C.), when Sukunahikona No Mikoto was enshrined at the top of Mt. Kinpu. In the later period, when Yamato Takeru dropped in at this shrine to offer a prayer on his way to the eastern land, he founded a shrine at this place as the satomiya (village shrine).
During the Warring States period (1493-1573), the shrine was worshipped by the Takeda clan as their oratory. It was also protected by the Tokugawa clan in the Edo period (1603-1868). The shrine building was destroyed by fire in 1955, and reconstructed into the present vermillion Honden (the main hall) in 1959. This shrine is believed to bring the benefits of recovery of illness, getting rid of bad luck and luck with money. In spring, the shrine is crowded with a lot of cherry blossom viewers to enjoy 600 cherry trees in the precinct including the very rare tree named “Turmeric Cherry,” which produces yellow blossoms.