NIPPON Kichi - 日本吉

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高橋敬典(人間国宝) Takahashi Keiten Keiten Takahashi (Living National Treasure)

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Designated as the holder of National Important Intangible Cultural Heritage “Chanoyugama” (Living National Treasure) in 1996. Born in 1920 in Yamagata City, Miyagi Prefecture, Keiten Takahashi succeeded the family business of foundry at the age of 19 in 1938 and studied under Tetsushi Nagano, the holder of National Important Intangible Cultural Heritage “Chanoyugama.” By selecting high quality river sand and clay and persisting in continual production method from molding and casting to coloring and finishing, Takahashi creates Chagama (Metal Furo Brazier), which has an elegant shape and soft metal texture. To produce first-class product, he orders iron sand from Shimane Pref., which is said to be very difficult to obtain, and furthermore, he selects the superior ones by feeling with his own fingers. Saying that time and labor yield a good product, he is particular about every step in the making process and sometimes takes as many as 3 months to finish one work. The shape, patterns and metal texture, all perfectly harmonize in Takahashi’s Chagama. His Chagama is highly evaluated as a sharp and sophisticated art work.
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鳳鳴四十八滝 Houmei-shijuuhattaki The Homei Shijuhattaki Falls

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The Homei Shijuhattaki (Forty-eight) Falls is on the upstream of the Hirose River, which runs through Wakaba-ku in Sendai City, Miyagi Prefecture. Water flows down the terraced rocky slopes one after another, forming a basin on every stage. The largest flow was once called “the Bomeki-no-taki Waterfall.” The origin of its name “Homei (Phoenix’s Cry)” is obscure, but there are several theories. One theory states that it was because the overlapping sounds of the waterfall sounded like a cry of a Chinese phoenix.

Off the road from National Route 48, the waterfall is surrounded with densely grown trees. As the waterfall flows at the bottom of the sheer cliffs, only the cool sound of flowing water can be heard from the hiking trail. If you want to see the whole picture of the waterfall, you have to pluck up the courage to lean forward and look down.

The upper part of the waterfall consists of several stages, each of which has a large basin. You will never get tired of looking at the water flowing from one basin down to another, creating the flow of white bubbles. There is a legend that, once upon a time, a heavenly maiden descended from the sky and danced beside the waterfall. Looking at the beautiful flow of water, you might think that it really happened.
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茶の湯釜 Cha-no-yugama Chonoyugama Tea Kettle

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Chanoyugama, or tea kettle, is a traditional artwork and occupies an important position in the world of the tea ceremony.  Its significance is evident as people say “put a kettle on” to mean to hold a tea ceremony.
80% of the tea kettles are said to be produced in Yamagata Prefecture and this traditional iron casting was designated as a traditional art by the Ministry of Economic Affair in 1975.
Casting and tea kettle making in Yamagata dates back to Heian period when Minamotono Yoriyoshi visited Yamagata during Zen Kunen no Eki Battle (1058~1064). He accompanied foundry craftsmen who discovered that the soil around Mamigasaki River running through the Yamagata City was suitable for the casting process. Some of these people stayed and started production.
The vessel is characterized by its coarse, rough surface. The traditional techniques that create a rough surface such as Monyoou-oshi, Hadauchi and Kinkidome have been handed down, and the tea kettle which has a simple appearance yet exhibits an imposing presence, is still produced in large numbers.
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神明社 拝殿 Shinmei-sha Haiden Shinmeisha Shrine

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Shinmeisha Shrine is located in Wakuya Hinata in Wakuya Town, Miyagi Prefecture. The enshrined deities are Amaterasu Omikami and Amenonakanushi no Kami. The origin of the shrine is not clear, but it is said that it was originally located in Kozutsumi Village in present Watari Town and enshrined Uganomitama no Kami. In 1591, when Watari Motomune, the ruler of this area, was transferred to Wakuya, he relocated the shrine to its current location, which was said to be a holy place associated with Shiogama Shrine.

Haiden (the oratory) of Shinmeisha Shrine is designated as a cultural property by the prefecture as one of the few Genroku-era structures. It was constructed in 1698. It is a 3-bay wide and 2-bay deep wooden building with a copper roof in Irimoya-zukuri (hip and gabled) style. No painting is applied to the building.

The front side has the 1-bay step-canopy. The railing is built around three sides of the building. The carved decorations are painted with white pigment made of burnt seashell.

The gable pediments are embellished with large bottle-shaped struts cut out to fit over rainbow beams. The ridge is covered with decorative boards with a symmetrical three-fold pattern and turnip-shaped cover boards.
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群馬 茂林寺 Gunma Morin-ji Morinji Temple

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Morinji, a temple of the Soto sect, is in Horiku-cho, Tatebayashi City, Gunma Prefecture. The principal object of worship is Shakamuni Buddha. It was founded in 1426 by a Zen monk, Dairin Shoutsu. The temple is famous as the setting of the nursery tale “Bunbuku Chagama,” in which a Japanese raccoon dog changes itself into a chagama (tea kettle) and repays the priest for his kindness. The Bunbuku Chagama and old documents concerning the story are treasured at the temple. Visitors will be welcomed by many pottery statues of raccoon dog with humorous expressions on their faces, which create an amusing ambience.

Since 2002, “the Raccoon Dog and Cherry Blossom Festival” is held in April. A lot of visitors come to enjoy listening to the tune of “Bunbuku Chagama” played on the Satsuma-biwa (Japanese lute in the Satsuma style) and the story read by Kodan storyteller as well as seeing traditional dances. The first 100 visitors can be treated with mochi (rice cake).
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五色岳 Goshiki-dake Mt. Goshikidake

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Mt. Goshikidake is a volcano composing the Zao Mountain Range in the border of Yamagata Prefecture and Miyagi Prefecture. It is 1,674 m above sea level. It is a post-caldera pyricrastic cone in the outer rim of the crator with a diameter of 2 km. At the center of the caldera lies a caldera lake known as Okama, one of the major attractions in Zao area.

The walking trail is set around Okama so that you can go round the lake, which changes colors from cobalt blue or emerald green to brown depending on the weather conditions.

As there is nothing to cut off the view, you can enjoy the scenery of the magnificent Zao Mountain Range covered with crimson foliage in fall. In winter, you can take a close look at snow monsters, which are trees frozen by winds and covered with snow. In any season, you will fully enjoy soaking yourself in the world filled with the wonder of nature.
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保殿の七滝 Hodono-no-nana-taki The Seven Falls of Hodono

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There are seven waterfalls in a 300 meter stream of the Nohara River, which is located a little ahead from a village of Hodono in the eastern end of Toyota City in Aichi Prefecture. From the Ichi-notaki (the 1st waterfall) to the Nana-no-taki (the 7th waterfall), each waterfall is about 3 to 5 meters tall. The largest and widest one is the Nana-no-taki located down the Takimi Bridge. It flows down in two lines and has the largest basin.

Visitors are fascinated by the diversified flows of falls together with the surrounding magnificent views. The seven falls look differently according to the surrounding landscape that changes from season to season, each of which has its own beauty. The landscape of the Ni-no-taki (the 2nd waterfall) seen from the bridge in the foliage season is the most exquisite.
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釜石よいさ Kamaishi-yoisa Kamaishi Yoisa Festival

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Kamaishi Yoisa festival is held in the town of Omachi in Kamaishi City, Iwate Prefecture. In 1989, the citizens centered on the young people sought something they could do to build an active town and held a festival named “Kamaishi Yoisa,” in which people dance to the newly arranged ohayashi music of the local folk performing art “Tora-no-mai (Tiger Dance),” which itself has been handed down in this area since the Edo period (1603-1868).

The main streets of the city are closed to vehicular traffic in the evening and are full of about 3,000 citizens, who gather together to dance “Kamaishi Yoisa” in teams. After “Kids Yoisa” by kindergarten children and “Yoisa Komachi” by city employees are performed, the “Saki-daiko” drums are played to let the participants know the beginning of the Grand Dance Parade. Then the teams in their original costumes and pulling their own floats start energetically jump and dance in the streets with the powerful call of “Sasa! Yoiyassa!” Even the tourists can join the dance and have fun dancing and jumping with the local people.
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