Sakai Gogatsu Koinobori are koinobori or carp-shaped brocade streamers made in Sakai City, Osaka.
Their origin dates back to the beginning of the Meiji period when a merchant who had a toy and stationery business, on his way back from a visit to the Ise Shrine, saw paper carp made in Nagoya. This gave him the idea of having a Japanese kite maker make the paper carp, which he then sold.
By the middle of the Meiji period, the paper carp were replaced by ones made with brocade cloth and the techniques evolved to accommodate the change in material.
Sakai Koinobori are usually done with a drawing of a boy from a folktale, known as Kintaro, riding on the carp. The traditional elaborate methods are still used, in which the pictures are drawn by hand, one stroke at a time. The brocade cloth is then dyed with the utmost care.
With its graduated shading, subtle brush work and forcible strokes all of which are done by hand, Sakai Gogatsu Koinobori is a notable craftwork that is still highly sought after.
Sakai Gogatsu Koinobori, was designated as a prefectural traditional craftwork by Osaka in 1986. The streamers are still now enthusiastically produced so they can grace the skies of Japan with their elegantly swimming carps.
Nishiki-goi, developed from black carp, are ornamental, brightly colored carp. They were initially bred in the area of Nagaoka and Ojiya City in the Niigata Prefecture.
The earliest account of these carp was found in Nihonshoki, the second oldest book of Japanese history, in which it was said that Emperor Keiko (71~130) intentionally released carp to a pond. This is now regarded as a proof that carp were already bred by people at that time.
Nishiki-goi were born from mutated carp that were raised for food in Nagaoka and Ojiya City during Bunka Bunsei period (1804~1830).
The villagers noticed and became fascinated by these brightly colored carp and they started to breed them for ornamental purposes. Since then, carp have been developed in more than 80 colors and patterns.
Nishiki-goi, which, translated literally, means brocaded carp, was said to be so named after a remark by the head of the Nigata Prefectural Fishery Agency who, astonished with their beauty, exclaimed “ This is the very brocaded carp!”
Nishiki-goi can now be appreciated around the world which the Japanese people can take pride in.
Sakuma Dam Festival is a citizen festival held on the last Sunday in October at Sakuma Dam in Hamamatsu City, Shizuoka Prefecture. It started in 1957 in memory of the victims to their duty of dam construction and in hope of the long successful operation of the dam.
When the dam was completed, red and black carp were brought from the water moat of the Imperial Palace and released into the dam lake as the guardian gods; thereby the parade of the Dragon God and the Dragon Dance is performed. Dashing seven young men wearing festival jackets and hair bands skillfully operate the Dragon God, which is 15 m long and weighs 60 kg, and perform a valiant dragon dance. It is distinctive that this dragon god has carp scales.
Other events such as the Sakuma Hiryu Daiko drum performance, various street performances, the Japanese noodle quick eating contest, the throwing rice cake contest and the local products fair are held in the lakeside field. Hand-held peacock fireworks are displayed on the lake. A lot of local people come to enjoy the festival on this day.
Hashimoto Yakichi shouten is a craft studio that has for many years hand made koinobori or carp-shaped streamers. The studio opened in the 14th year of the Meiji period and now, as the third master, Takashi Hashimoto makes the koinobori. Hashimoto Yakichi shouten is the only studio that makes koinobori by hand in the Saitama prefecture Kazo area. Kazo is the foremost area for koinobori production in Japan. There are reasons for making koinobori by hand. The first reason is thata handcrafted koinobori ha an original "feel" that makes it different from a machine-made one. In addition to the special "feel", a hand-made koinobori uses special pigments that do not discolor easily. Moreover, a hand-made koinobori is made of nylon and not cotton because when it is raised, it looks more powerful. On the other hand, the studio's principle is "Changing tradition slightly is one way to maintain tradition". From this belief, the studio has been successfully creating koinobori that fit the demands of present-day society, in addition to the "bushuu" koinobori that have been continuously made since the studio was founded. Animated and powerful koinobori will be seen flying this year again, in many parts of Japan.