NIPPON Kichi - 日本吉

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オホーツク海の流氷 ohotsuku-kai-no-ryuuhyou Drift Ice on the Okhotsk Sea

Jp En

The Okhotsk Sea in Hokkaido is famous for drift ice in winter. In the most severe season, 80 percent of the sea is covered with drift ice. In mid-November, drift ice starts forming at points where the Amur River to the north in Sakhalin flows into the sea. This drift ice expands in the north wind and travels with the currents some 2000km south to arrive near Abashiri by mid-January.

Because fresh water runs from the Amur River into the Okhotsk Sea, the surface of the sea here is less salty. Sea water with less salt freezes more easily, thus forming drift ice.

This ice, born in the far north sea, brings rich plankton, which is fed on by sea creatures such as hairy crab, salmon, trout and scallop.

As far as you can see, the drift ice forms a field of white that is completely silent without the sound of waves. Drift ice on the Okhotsk Sea is a poetic world produced by mysterious nature.
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丹後藤布 Tangofujifu Tango Fujifu (Tango Wisteria Cloth)

Jp En

In mid-May, wisteria blooms beautifully over the mountains. Fujifu is a cloth made by weaving fabrics extracted from the vines of those wisterias. In the Tango areas, the weaving skills that developed over 1,200 years are now designated as a traditional handicraft of Kyoto.

The history of fujifu is long. There is a phrase that indicates the presence of fujifu even in the 'Manyoushu' (a collection of Japanese poetry, compiled around the mid-8th century), which mentions 'the fujifu of a salt farm worker, working for the lord'. Also, an anecdote describes how the Emperor Godaigo took a wisteria seedling with him to Okinoshima island, when he was exiled there by the Kamakura Shogunate in 1333 (Genkou 2). The anecdote explains that he loved the wisteria and remembered the imperial capital by dressing in fujifu cloth.

At one time, fujifu was being produced widely across Japan as general apparel. Today, there have been approaches to adapt fujifu for modern lifestyles by making new products, such as 'noren' curtains, tapestries, obi belts and interior accessories.
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香道 Kou-dou The Art of Burning Incense

Jp En

Incense burning is a unique Japanese art in which fragrant wood is burnt for the enjoyment of its scent.
Fragrant wood was introduced to Japan at the same time as Buddhism and the custom of adding scent to clothes or hair was born. By the mid-Muromachi period, the burning of fragant wood had become stylised in the same way as the tea ceremony and flower arranging.
The basic style of incense burning involves cutting a piece of fragrant wood and putting it into a censer; the censer is passed back and forth so that its scent can be enjoyed.
Incense burning has an element of game and you guess which scent is which by comparing it with the Japanese classics and waka poems relating to it. This is different from other arts but, of course, winning and losing are not as important as enjoying the scent.
Incense burning is a very profound art that integrates one's literary knowledge, etiquette and mastery of books and tools. Many people love this art.
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夢二生家 Yumeji-seika The Birthplace of Yumeji Takehisa

Jp En

The Yumeji Local Art Museum Branch, located in Setonai, Okayama Prefecture, commemorates the birthplace of Yumeji Takehisa, who lived here until the age of 16.

Yumeji Takehisa was a lyrical and roving artist/poet whose work is representative of the Taisho Romantic style. Yumeji was born in 1884 (Meiji 17) in the town of Oku. Surrounded by beautiful mountains and rivers, this environment must lie at the roots of Yumeji's art.

The Yumeji museum exhibits Yumeji's sketches and block prints. Near the window are drawing marks he made for his beloved sister who had married. There is a monument at the museum entrance with the words, 'Takehisa Yumeji was born here' by Ikuma Arishima, one of Yumeji's best supporters. Next door, there is a recreation of Yumeji's studio, designed by him and now called the Yumeji Youth Lodge. Yumeji fans should definitely pay a visit to the poet's birthplace.
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二上山 Nijyozan Nijyozan Mountain

Jp En

Nijyozan Mountain, despite its low altitude, is the most historic mountain in all of Nara Prefecture, and is located between the Ikoma Mountain range and the Katsuragi Mountain range.

If you look at it from the Osaka Prefecture side, it resembles the shape of a camel's back. The Odake (Male Mountain), which has an altitude of 517m, and the Medake (Female Mountain), with an altitude of 474m, are the two round mountain peaks which make up the Nijyozan.

At the summit of the Odake is the grave of Prince Otsu (poet and son of Emperor Temmu), who was executed on the suspicion of rebellion. Some people may know the Manyoushu  (Song of Ten Thousand Leaves), which Princess Ookuno composed in memory of her younger brother. The song 'Utsusomino-Hitonaruwareya-Asuyoriwa-Nijyouzanwo-Otoutoyotowagamimu' describes the princess's feelings of pain and sadness for her brother.

The Nijyozan is currently being prepared to become a Natural Park called the Manyou-no-Mori ('forest of ten thousand leaves'). Besides mountain climbing, people can enjoy touring of historic sites, such as the cave temples dating to the Nara period and stone monuments inscribed with tanka poems from the Manyoushu.

On holidays, the Nijyozan is full of visitors who have come to enjoy a pleasant stroll.
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新湊法生津八幡宮 Shinminato-Hojozu-hachimangu Shinminato Hojozu Hachimangu Shrine

Jp En

Shinminato Hojozu Hachimangu Shrine is located in Imizu City, Toyama Prefecture. The shrine was established in 746, when the poet Ootomo-no-Yakamochi, who was then an officer of the Ecchu area, was given blessings by the Usa Hachimangu Shrine in Toyomae to build a shrine.

Behind the site of the shrine is a monument commemorating one of Ootomo-no-Yakamochi's poems, which is about Nago Inlet, and is included in the classic book 'Manyoushu'. 'Because the eastern wind blows hard, the waves of the Nago Inlet beat the shore, just as my heart aches and beats for security and love.' Nago Inlet can be seen from the shrine, allowing the viewer to experience the poet’s passion and emotion. The shrine also includes a monument to Matsuo Basho, who became famous for his book 'Osu no Hosomichi'.

The Houjyouzu Hachiman Festival takes place every October 1st with a parade of floats. Thirteen gorgeous floats are pulled through the city, looking like mountains of flowers by day, and a grand sight by night when lit up.
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俳聖殿 Haiseiden Haisei-den

Jp En

Haisei-den was built in 1942 to celebrate the 300th anniversary of the birth of the famous haiku poet Matsuo Basho. It is located in Iga City, Mie prefecture. The building has been designated as a Cultural Asset of Iga.

Haisei-den is in Ueno Park (the site of Iga Ueno Castle). The building has an unusual design: it is in the shape of Basho on one of his trips. A roof corresponds to his hat, the octagonal eaves to his sash, the pillars to his stick, and a wooden frame to his face. Inside, there is a life-sized statue in Iga ware of Basho seated.

Katsu Kawasaki, a councillor born in Mie, built this strange and magnificent building with money from his own pocket.

On October 12 every year, on the anniversary of Basho's death, a Basho Festival is held to honor his memory and achievements. Moreover, haiku and renku poems from all over Japan are dedicated to Basho's statue, and the statue is opened to the public on this day only.

This building expresses both the traveler and architecture at the same time. There is no similar example and Haisei-den is a masterpiece of unusual architectural art.
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桜 Sakura Cherry Blossoms (Sakura)

Jp En

Since ancient times, the Japanese cherry (sakura) tree has been deeply connected to the spirit and lifestyle of the Japanese people as the spiritual tree of Konohanasakuyahimenomikoto.

The cherry blossom is the representative flower of Japan and, generally said, the word 'flower' for the Japanese means cherry blossom. Sakura is also the official flower of the state of Japan.

For many reasons, too, the sakura tree is important for practical purposes. For example, an early-Jomon period bow excavated from the Torihama Shell Mound Site in Fukui Prefecture contains parts reinforced with sakura bark. In addition, people knew when to sow the fields and time the crops by following the sakura's blossoming.

Yet the sakura is more of an ornamental tree, and 'hanami' ('cherry-blossom viewing') is an annual spring event nationwide. Additionally, the beautiful and transient characteristic of the tree to blossom before foliating in a short space of time, before falling gracefully, has been the subject of countless poems. Furthermore, sakura is often the subject of conversations with a distinctively Japanese aesthetic.
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