NIPPON Kichi - 日本吉

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2007/2/15


狂言 Kyougen Kyogen

Jp En

Kyogen is a Japanese traditional performing art established in the Muromachi period. It developed from Sarugaku at the same time as Noh.
  
Now, Nogaku shows Shikisanba, Noh and Kyogen.
  
There are three kinds of Kyogen: Hon-kyogen, which is performed independently; Ai-kyogen, which is performed during the intermissions of Noh performances as explanation or relaxation; and Sanbaso, which is also performed in Kabuki.
  
Kyogen features masks, dancing and dramatic elements. Unlike Noh, which mainly enacts tragedies, most Kyogen are impersonation and line-speaking dramas with comic themes and funny stories.
  
Kyogen is the first comic performing art in Japan and, unlike Karuwaza and Kyokugei, it may have stories, word games and irony.
  
The leading character in Kyogen is Shite, and the supporting character is named Ado. Costumes and masks are simpler than Noh. Most Kyogen characters are commoners or villains, while in Noh they are mostly divinities.
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2007/2/1


竹生島 Chikubu-shima Chikubu Island

Jp En

Chikubu Island is in the northern part of Lake Biwa, in Nagahama City, Shiga Prefecture. The total area of the island is 0.14m2 and its highest part is 197m. It is designated a Great Scenic and Historical Place of the Nation.

Chikubu Island is located 2km south of Tsuzurao Cape. The whole island is covered with conifers and is said to be one of the 8 great views of Lake Biwa. The island also appears in Japanese Noh dance-drama, and is referred to in Japanese lute music, storytelling, and modern Japanese music.

Since olden times, the island has been worshipped and a god is said to live there. At the south end of the island, there are Chikubu Island Shrine, enshrining one of the three major Benten gods, and Hogoji Temple, the 30th spot of Saigoku 33. The lake around the island is deep, while the western side is the deepest part of Lake Biwa. Between the island and Tsuzurao Cape in the north, remains have been found on the lake bottom. Much earthenware is being pulled up from 70 meters down.

Chikubu Island is a traditional island with a long history and a myth.
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2007/1/30


甲田綏郎(人間国宝) Kouda Yoshio Yoshio Koda (Living National Treasure)

Jp En

Yoshio Koda was born in 1929. He has been designated as a Living National Treasure for his work in Seigo Sendaihira handwoven silk.

Seigo Sendaihira is a costly thick silk cloth from Sendai. It is made from high-quality raw silk threads that have been kneaded with straw ash, dyed with natural dyes, and which are then woven by hand.

As a boy, Yoshio Koda was apprenticed to his father, Eisuke, (who was designated as a Human National Treasure in 1956), and learned the traditional skill of Seigo Sendaihira.

After his father died in 1965, Yoshio succeeded to the craft. He has been engaged not only in preserving the tradition but in making his original style. Now, he is one of the best weavers in Japan.
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2007/1/9


京陶人形 Kyo-tohningyo Kyoto Ceramic Dolls

Jp En

Japan is well known as a country for doll-making. In particular, Kyoto has a long history in doll-making.

Kyoto ceramic dolls (Kyo-toh-ningyo) are colored and unglazed dolls made in Kyoto. Although these dolls have a naive, sweet image, they are also very delicate and have an attractive brightness.

Busshi (sculptors specializing in Buddhist statuary) and nohmenshi (sculptors specializing in Noh masks) also would sculpt dolls such as Kamo-ningyos and Gosho-ningyos for the nobility. However, dolls gained general popularity in the Edo period, when mass production became possible from cast molds.

Kyo-toh-ningyo is one type of doll-making that developed at this time, and was appreciated by the public as accessible, simple and cute dolls.

Today’s Kyo-toh-ningyo are integrated with late-Meiji Hakata-ningyo. These dolls set new trends at the time and achieved new aspects of artistry and creativity.

Generally, these figures are made in small numbers, though there are many varieties in shapes and forms. For instance there are Kyo-toh-ningyo dolls made for the doll festival (Hina matsuri), and for boys festivals, as well as historical figures, zodiac animals, and the dolls combined with bells. Zodiac dolls and bell-dolls are very popular, since they are believed to bring good luck.
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2007/1/6


佐太神社 Sada-jinja Sada Shrine

Jp En

Sada Shrine is located by the Sada River, near Matsue in Shimane Prefecture. It is both an historical and  an influential shrine, second only to Izumo-Taisha, and was built in 1684.

The main shrine is built in the Taisha style, with halls in three rows. In the main shrine, twelve gods are enshrined. In the main shrine is the Saiehiogi, one of the oldest existing paintings on a fan screen. The shrine possesses a number of designated national cultural assets, such as the Sada Jin-noh, a drama form that influenced the Satokagura drama throughout the country.

The Sada Jin-noh is played during the famous Gozakae and Reisai festivals on the 24th and 25th of September, respectively.

  In addition, in November during the Jinzai festival (held to expel  bad luck, including fire and flood), it is said that a multitude of gods  gather here at Sada Shrine. This is why Sada Shrine is also known as the ‘Jinzai shrine’.
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