NIPPON Kichi - 日本吉

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2008/4/15


江戸東京たてもの園 Edo-Toukyou-tatemono-en Open Air Architectural Museum

Jp En

Edo Tokyo Tatemono-en or The Open Air Architectural Museum is located inside Koganei Park on the western outskirts of Tokyo. It is a spacious and bright open-air museum that showcases 27 historical and cultural buildings from the Edo period to the beginning of the Showa period.  It first opened to the public in March, 1993.
     Its vast area of 7 hectares is divided into roughly three sections: buildings from downtown Tokyo in the east, Yamanote residential areas in the west and historically intriguing buildings in the middle.
     Along with these historically important buildings, a whole town was reconstructed and the tools used in daily life are exhibited inside as well as outside the buildings. Visitors can then enjoy a more complete experience of what life must have been like from the beginning of the Edo period to the Showa period.
     Among the buildings transferred from their original locations and reconstructed in the museum are the residential house of the Mitsui Family, the Bathhouse Kodakara-yu which inspired the popular movie Spirited Away, the residential house of Kunio Maeda, an architect, and the residential house of Korekiyo Takahashi, a politician from the beginning of the Showa period.
     At the museum, visitors can travel beyond time and feel their past heritage.
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2008/3/7


崋山神社 Kazan-jinja Kazan Shrine

Jp En

Kazan Shrine located at the ruins site of Demaru (the outermost compound) of Tahara Castle in Tahara City, Aichi Prefecture is a shrine enshrining Watanabe Kazan, a Japanese painter, scholar and the senior councilor of the Tahara domain in the late Edo period (1603-1868).

The local people planned to build a shrine to honor Kazan’s virtuousness in 1941; however, as it was during World War II, they could not commence the construction. In 1946, they bought a temporary pavilion used for a shrine in Inasa Town in Shizuoka Prefecture and founded Kazan Shrine at the present site. The shrine pavilion was destroyed by Ise Bay Typhoon in 1959 and reconstructed later.

Born at Kamiyashiki (the main resident) of the Tahara domain in Edo in 1793, he first served the domain lord’s little son at the age of eight. He started to learn Confucianism of Mencius and Zhu Xi at the age of 13 and became a great scholar in Confucianism as well as Rangaku (Western learning), from which it is believed that the one who visits this shrine will be able to improve his /her learning ability.

On the memorial day of Kazan on October 11, the annual festival is held at this shrine. The memorial service is held in front of Kazan’s grave located in Johoji Temple in the city and the Shinto ritual is performed at Kazan Shrine. Kazan’s portrait is drawn on the Ema-plates provided at the shrine.
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2008/1/29


【水】 Sui Water

Jp En

As a pictograph and according to the oldest character forms from the tortoise plastron and bone characters, it shows a small water current or flow. The tortoise plastron and bone characters have the form with three water splashes and both sides emphasizing its splashing state, however, in the bronze inscriptions this emphasis is decreased. Instead, the drops on both sides are reduced to two and it already is abbreviated to a form nearly identical in structure with the character form of the present Common Use Kanji.
Although this character clearly does not show rain, there is something about it reminding a little of rain. Nevertheless, it is not a rain drop falling down straight from heaven; it depicts the state of natural water flowing and purling, splashing water about forcefully. In China, in the Warring States period close to the time when Confucius lived, the so-called five elements theory explaining everything coming into existence from the elements wood, fire, earth, metal, and water appeared. Water was traditionally held important as one of these elements.
In the ‘Book of Rites’ and the ‘Mencius’ one can see the allegory of comparing the man of virtue with water; the ‘Lăo Zĭ’ lauds the humble but strong nature of water. In the early character dictionary ‘Shuō Wén Jiě Zì, Setsumon Kaiji: Explanation of the Simple and Analysis of the Complex Characters’ from 1900 years ago which was the commonly accepted explanation of Kanji until Shirakawa Kanji Science, the explanation of 水 is forced to follow the Yin-Yang theory which was the political philosophy of that era, holding that the middle represents Yang and the both sides represent Yin.
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2007/12/20


【信】 Shin Trust, Trustworthiness, Belief

Jp En

It is a character combining the person-classifier and 言. In this combination, it appears for the first time in the so-called Old Script. 言, however, can already be seen in the tortoise plastron and bone characters. As already explained in the character explanations on 吉・哲・仁, its lower part 口 has the meaning of a receptacle for putting in prayer writings. The meaning of the upper part with its four horizontal lines is hard to understand from the form of the Common Use Kanji. Its original form and meaning has to be understood in the context of the tattoo and ritual body painting culture which was already introduced in the character explanation on 清. It shows the form of an instrument, a needle with a handle for tattooing. Therefore, 言 is not simply a word, but means to place the tattoo needle on the prayer receptacle and to accept the tattoo penalty in case one does not keep a promise or oath to the gods. Originally, this tattooing has the background of offending the gods and can be regarded as one of the corporal punishments as were usual in Chinese society. According to Shizuka Shirakawa’s research, in contrast to the general image of Confucius, Confucius was the natural child of a priestess or shrine maiden. The world of the gods Confucius seldom made a subject. Based on words like that of Analects Chapter 12, 顔淵 Yán Yuān and others, however, 信 ‘trust’ became to play a role as a notion in social politics. In Japan, the value of 信 ‘trust’ was pointed out anew by Itō Jinsai (1627-1705), the inaugurator of the ‘Old Meaning School.’ When asked which of the trio – food, army, trust – was the most valuable, Confucius answered that food is more important than the army, but that the trust of the people is an even more important, absolutely vital principle. Certainly, fasting of individuals or even a people for their belief can be seen in religious and political struggle.
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2007/11/19


【哲】 Tetsu Wise, Sagacious

Jp En

The upper part of this character now is 折 (‘oru: to break off, to bend’), in the previous character forms, however, it is considerably different. 斥 is the form of an ax, 扌, however, in this case, does not mean a hand. That the ax is used with the hands is common sense and does not have to be mentioned in full detail. Here, it shows the object being made with the ax.
Like at the Itsukushima Shrine on Miyajima, there are so called god ladders to be used by the Kami (gods) when ascending to and ascending from heaven. It is a wooden ladder as one often finds at sacred places in China. The扌 of the upper part of 哲 is a god ladder and shows the making of a gods ladder with an ax. As the 口 of the lower part is a receptacle for putting in ‘norito’ prayer writings, this character represents the heart and mental state when welcoming the gods. Therefore, since antiquity it had the meanings ‘akiraka: clear’ and ‘kenmei: wise.’ This adjective was also often used for kings. There also is the character form with 心 ‘heart’ instead of the 口 ‘norito’ prayer receptacle which in a representative ancient dictionary is defined as having the meaning of “It is 敬 ‘Kei: reverence’.” The Zhu Xi school (in Japan ‘Shushigaku’) which exerted profound influence on East Asian thought for hundreds of years and became the political thought and philosophy of the Japanese Tokugawa government from the 17th to the 19th century had made 敬 the guiding principle. The meaning of this character 敬 thus is defined as identical with this previous character form of 悊.
Also, long before this, there was the variant character form 喆 (tetsu). Based on the dictionary Shuō Wén Jiě Zì, Setsumon Kaiji (Explanation of Simple Graphs and Analysis of Complex Characters) from the later Han period, Dr. Shirakawa also introduces the equivalent 嚞 made up of three 吉.
left: bronze inscription
right: so called Old Script from the Shuō Wén Jiě Zì
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