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2008/9/4


天神祭 Tenjin-matsuri Tenjin Festival

Jp En

The Tenjin Festival is a spectacular boat festival held at the Oosaka Tenman-guu Shrine in Kita-ku, Oosaka, and it is one of the Three Greatest Festivals in Japan. Oosaka Tenman-guu Shrine was built in 949 by the order of Emperor Murakami. The shrine is dedicated to Sugawara Michizane, who was deified as the patron god of learning.
The origin of this festival dates back to 951, two years after the foundation of the shrine, when kamihoko, a portable shrine with a halberd on its top, was released into the river near the shrine and a temporary funeral hall was built at the place where the kamihoko washed ashore. Local people who worshiped at the shrine rode on boats and welcomed the arrival of the kamihoko, which was said to mark the beginning of the festival. Since then, the event has been held every July 24th and 25th.
In modern days, the first day of the festival begins with the Yoimiya Festival to pray for the success of the Hokonagashi ceremony. It is followed by the actual ceremony in which the sacred halberd is released from the Hokonagashi Bridge at the sound of a ryuuteki flute.
On the following day, the holy spirit of the Tenjin deity is transferred to a portable shrine called gohouren and paraded around for about 4km from the Tenman-guu Shrine to the point of embarkation, accompanied by as many as 3,000 festival participants. Gohouren is then transferred onto a boat and, accompanied by some 100 river boats, while it moves toward the Naka River to the Okawa-river, with spectacular fireworks overhead.
The Tenjin Festival is a grand festival that brings a dramatic and stunning display to the water city of Oosaka.

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2008/7/3


七星剣 Shichisei-ken Shichiseiken (Seven Star Sword)

Jp En


Shichseiken or Seven Star Sword is a Japanese sword that is 62.1cm in length and belongs to the Shitennou-ji Temple located in Shitennouji-ku, Oosaka City, Oosaka. It is designated as a National Treasure.
Shitennou-ji Temple was built by Shoutoku Taishi in 598 and it is sacred to Kukanzeonbosatsu.
Along with Heishishourinken, another sword that is also kept in Shitennou-ji, Shichiseiken is said to have been much loved by Shoutoku Taishi.
The name Seven Star Sword came from the fact that the sword is engraved with seven golden stars in the shape of a plough, using a technique called zougan.  Additionally, the front side of the sword is carved with 5 asukagumo, using the golden zogan technique and at both ends of the seven stars, there are three V-shaped stars and three stars aligned with a blue dragon and a white tiger.  The back of the sword is also engraved with asukagumo, seven stars, a blue dragon and a white tiger.
Shichiseiken, by comparison to Heishishourinken, has a more noticeable residual metal substance called suragu, however, it uses a finer raw metal called koitame-hada and it has a hososugu blade.
Shichiseiken is a historically valuable sword that has been carefully preserved from an ancient period.


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2008/2/22


堺五月鯉幟 Sakai-gogatsu-koinobori Sakai Gogatsu Koinobori

Jp En

Sakai Gogatsu Koinobori are koinobori or carp-shaped brocade streamers made in Sakai City, Osaka.
Their origin dates back to the beginning of the Meiji period when a merchant who had a toy and stationery business, on his way back from a visit to the Ise Shrine, saw paper carp made in Nagoya.  This gave him the idea of having a Japanese kite maker make the paper carp, which he then sold.
By the middle of the Meiji period, the paper carp were replaced by ones made with brocade cloth and the techniques evolved to accommodate the change in material.
Sakai Koinobori are usually done with a drawing of a boy from a folktale, known as Kintaro, riding on the carp. The traditional elaborate methods are still used, in which the pictures are drawn by hand, one stroke at a time.   The brocade cloth is then dyed with the utmost care.  
With its graduated shading, subtle brush work and forcible strokes all of which are done by hand, Sakai Gogatsu Koinobori is a notable craftwork that is still highly sought after.
Sakai Gogatsu Koinobori, was designated as a prefectural traditional craftwork by Osaka in 1986.  The streamers are still now enthusiastically produced so they can grace the skies of Japan with their elegantly swimming carps.
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2007/12/25


人工心臓 Jinkou-shinzou Artificial Heart

Jp En

“If I have to accept an artificial heart into my body, I would like it to be painless and look cool”, said the designer, Kazuo Kawasaki, who sought functional progress and an aesthetic sense for an artificial heart even it resides inside the body and is invisible from the outside.  
It was the technology of the stereolithography system that made his vision become real. Stereolithography allows for the creation of three-dimensional (3-D) objects, in this case using resin, from CAD data.  Even complicated shapes like those that can be seen in Trompe-l'œil, or trick art, can be turned accurately into a real object.
Fusion is one of key words to describe the tendency of recent high-end technology developments. By fusing ideas and technologies from different fields, it becomes possible to break though the walls of limitation. Artificial hearts are seen as a new technology, an alternative to heart transplants, and their development is being advanced from areas beyond the medical field in a way that has not seen before. It is an exciting development that attracts lots of anticipation for the future.      

■Design Director / M.D.
Kazuo Kawasaki
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2007/12/3


堺線香 Sakai-senkou Sakai Incense

Jp En

Sakai Senkou is incense sticks made in Sakai City, Osaka.
Incense making was originally brought from China at the end of 16th century when the history of incense making in Japan originated.
At that time Sakai was one of the leading trading ports in Japan. Along with the fact that it was easy to find aromatic trees and there were many temples in the city, incense making was developed and Sakai became known as a production center of incense by the time of Edo era.
   A vital part of incense making was the mixture of aromatic ingredients. In this regard, Sakai incense was largely influenced by Koudou (art of appreciating incense) and Sadou (art of tea ceremony) and further developed.
Sakai incense is made by traditional methods in which the machilus tree of a Lauraceae family is mixed with aromatic ingredients and kneaded together with hot water. Some high-end incense is still made by the hand of skilled artisans.
The carefully selected aromatic ingredients of Sakai incense are regarded as the art of fragrance and still highly valued.
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四天王寺 どやどや Shitennouji Doyadoya Shitennou-ji Doya-doya Festival

Jp En

Shitennou-ji Temple, located in Tennouji-ku, Osaka City, Osaka, is the head temple of Wa Shuu or Japanese Buddhist sect.  The principal image of Buddha is Guse Kanzeon Bosatsu. The temple is a part of Kansai Kannon Pilgrimage, the 25th temple of Settsukoku Pilgrimage and the first temple of Shoutoku Taishi Reiseki Temples.
Shitennou-ji is an ancient temple built by Shoutoku Taishi on the first year of Emperoro Suiko era (593).
Doya-doya Festival is said to date back to 827 when Shushoue, a New Year’s memorial service, first took place, and is counted as one of the Big Three Strange Festivals in Japan.  
  Shushoue, which starts on New Year’s Day, is dedicated to good luck for the year and to pray for world peace and rich harvests. Doya-doya Festival takes place on January 14th, the final day of Shushoue.
The festival is a majestic soul-stirring event in which young men who are divided into white and red groups and wearing only headbands and clad in loincloth strive to grab an amulet called gohei.  The name, Doya-doya, came from a Japanese expression of a big crowd gathering noisily.
Even now Shitennou-ji Doya-doya is still a very well attended thriving traditional religious festival.
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