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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2008/3/17


【気】 Ki Energy, Spirit, Atmosphere

Jp En

Its original character is 气. Again, the original character of 气 is 乞, the form of moving clouds. 気 can be thought of as the basic unit of energy, be it air, atmosphere, weather, vapor, or breathing.
In ‘Explanation of Common Use Kanji,’ the last character dictionary of Dr. Shirakawa, for the first time in his dictionaries, we find his explanation commenting on the vital role of 米 ‘rice’ nurturing 気 spirit or energy. By the way, also Jacob Chang-Ui Kim from Korea gave a similar view in his English explanation of Kanji.
Food is what supplies living beings with energy. Without eating, one cannot live and there is no vitality. From ancient times on, rice is the basic food and basis of energy in East Asia.
The upper part of 気 can also be thought of as the rising steam from rice boiling, and it therefore may even be regarded as a pictograph. In Japanese, 気 came to be used in a lot of expressions describing human feelings and states of mind. In East Asia as a whole, it has become the basis of martial arts culture built on the importance of breathing techniques, as Chinese shadow boxing and Aikidō.
In ancient Greek philosophy, with ‘pneuma,’ there is a very similar notion. The Stoa, a classic school of thought that commends pantheism and a life style following the laws of nature, taught that ‘pneuma,’ the most fine matter like air, is the carrier of ‘logos,’ or world reason, extant everywhere in the universe. In this sense, 気 is (was) a common way of thinking in East and West.
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2008/2/18


キセル Kiseru Kiseru

Jp En

Kiseru is an old style Japanese smoking pipe. Kiseru were used for smoking flake tobacco, but some use for smoking a cigarettee or others for a half-cut cigarettee recently. The word kiseru comes from the Khmer word “ksher.”

Kiseru were invented in Japan in the 16th century, when the Portuguese came to Japan for the Nanban trade after the arrival of guns. The origin of kiseru making is not clear but it is said that Japanese craftsmen began to make kiseru by modeling after smoking pipes the Portuguese were using.

In the Edo period (1603-1868), when flake tobacco were extremely popular, kiseru were indispensable items for tobacco smokers. The kiseru was a kind of a status symbol and a fancy accessory. There were many kiseru in different sizes, length and shapes and of different materials. Tobacco smokers had their own favorite kiseru according to their finaccial positions. However, since extravagance was prohibited by the Tokugawa shogunate, only warriors, wealthy merchants, and prostitutes were allowed to use kiseru until the end of the Edo period.