NIPPON Kichi - 日本吉

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2008/8/19


和太鼓集団 GOCOO Wadaiko-syuudan gokuu Japanese Taiko Drum Group “GOCOO”

Jp En

GOCOO (pronounced gokuu) is a Japanese Taiko Drum band that, while playing more than 40 Japanese drums, creates the sound and beat of mother earth. The band consist of 7 female and 4 male members who generate their original sound that cannot simply be categorized as traditional, folk or rock music. The sound is more primitive and trance-like and it is beyond nationality and music genre. The core of the band is its leader, Kaori Asano, who possesses the enchanting power of a modern shaman.
Ms. Asano brings her sticks down with full power as she swings her long hair as in a shishi lion dance.
Ms. Asano has said: “On stage, there comes a moment when daily affairs are stripped down to nothing but “love” and “gratitude” - the most genuine feelings of our souls.  I think this must be what was originally intended by the idea of having a “festival”.   I am often told that I am expressing something new but in truth, the newest things are intimately connected with the oldest things”
  The band was formed in 1997 and GOCOO is highly regarded in Japan as well as in other countries.  They have performed more than 100 shows abroad, including Europe. Their music was used in the movie, Matrix. GOCOO also performed their music at the opening of the Earth Summit in 2008 as an Asian representative.  
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2007/2/28


からかさ万灯 Karakasa-mandou Karakasa Firework Displays

Jp En

Karakasa firework displays are held at Otori Shrine in Tsuchiura. In these displays, fireworks are set off from 'karakasa' umbrellas made from oiled paper. These giant umbrellas measure 5m in both height and diameter.

A 100m-long rope acts as a fuse to carry the spark that sets off the actual fireworks, which are set on a box called 'yatsuguchi' on top of the karakasa. The fireworks in turn send sparks which then light a series of lanterns hung around the circumference of the karakasa. After that, the sparks are the main feature of the moment called 'te-botan' ('hand peony'), when the sparks appear to fall from the umbrella like raindrops. This beautiful display lasts for about 7 minutes. Legend has it that this firework display began as a prayer for rain by farmers who were suffering from drought.

Under the karakasa is a lantern with the words 'productive crops'. When the fireworks of the karakasa have finished, bottle rockets are fired into the night sky and the festival ends.
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2007/2/19


十五夜 jyuugo-ya Jugoya, The 15th Night

Jp En

Jugoya, or the 15th Night, refers to the 15th night of the 8th month in the lunar calendar when the moon is supposed to be especially beautiful. People enjoy looking at the moon and eating dango dumplings and taro, as well as making decorations with autumn plants such as susuki (Japanese pampas grass).

This custom comes from the mid-autumn festival in China. In Japan, in the Heian period, it became an Imperial event and was called 'Moon Feast'. Courtiers looked at the moon, wrote poems and played music.
  
Commoners called this event 'Taro Beautiful Moon' and it was a harvest thanksgiving festival, in which dumplings, taro, chestnuts and persimmons were eaten.
  
One month later, the 13th Night takes place on the 13th of the 11th month in the lunar calendar. Beans and soybeans are dedicated, and the festiva