Toto-Awase is a memory game in which the players have to match two cards to create a complete fish illustration and the kanji character that represents the name of the fish. Each card also has a brief description of the fish depicted. These fish are all familiar species in Japan and their illustrations have been beautifully done with colorful paper patterns. The game was created by Toto Koubou in Tango Uocchikan Aquarium, located in Miyazu City, Kyoto.
Since its début on the market in the Spring of 2003, Toto-Awase, with its beautiful illustrations, has gained popularity. The game has the added benefit for children of teaching them the various fish species and their respective kanji characters. The total sale of Toto-Awase games has now exceeded 100,000. The game received a Good Design Award in 2005 and a Good Toy Award in 2006. Currently there are eleven different sets of the memory game according to different regions. The illustrations are elaborate collages with colorful papers of traditional patterns and the box containing the cards is decorated in vermillion and ultramarine - the quintessential colors of Japan. An English version is also made under the name “Card Game Sushi Bar” and it is popular as a souvenir for people to bring abroad.
Bamba Dance is a folk dance performed every August during the Matsuri-Nobeoka (Nobeoka Festival) in Nobeoka, Miyazaki Prefecture.
Matsuri-Nobeoka is the largest summer festival in northern Miyazaki. In the Bamba-Sou-Odori (Whole Bamba Dance), more than 5,000 townspeople dance in a huge circle. The festivities also include a display of some 10,000 fireworks. This festival lasts for two exciting days.
The Bamba Dance is accompanied by narrative songs known as Kudokiuta, which feature long lyrics. The Bamba Dance seems to be a derivation of Bon festival dances held in each region of Nobeoka.
The lyrics of the songs for the Bamba Dance include many phrases from Kabuki and Joruri, which were very popular in the late Edo period. Therefore, the Bamba Dance is considered to have been popular in the late Edo period.
Indeed, the Bamba Dance has been enjoyed by people for a very long time.
Kanmachi Houin Kagura is a music and dance performance held on the second Sunday of October each year. The performance takes place during the Mamekarasan Festival at the Inari Shrine in Toyosato-cho, Tometo, Miyagi Prefecture. The performance has been designated as an important cultural entertainment of the prefecture.
Houin, who trained in Tometo, established a kagura group and performed kagura as prayers for good harvest in the Edo period. The performance was adopted by the shrine devotees in the mid-Meiji period.
During the Mamekara Festival, Kanmachi Houin Kagura, such as Iwadohiraki, Douso, Maou and Ubuya, are performed over 8 hours as part of the shrine ablutions. A shrine ritual then takes place. Many visitors approve of the traditional splendor of kagura. The local people call it 'Mamekara Myoujin', and it is a familiar event for them.
The Ere-kotcha Miyazaki festival started in 2002 and is a revival of the Miyazaki Furusato festival that was first held in 1984 to celebrate the 60th anniversary of Miyazaki City. It is a new type of festival, blending traditional Bon dancing with modern-style dancing.
The festival is held on the last two days of July. There are two main events. One is the 'citizen's dance', a large-scale dance with 10,000 people dancing to local folk music. The other event is the dance contest, Ere-kochya Miyazaki, held in downtown Miyazaki. This contest involves various groups and teams of dancers, and performers from all over Kyushu, who express the hot summer through their bodies.
'Ere-kotcha' means 'a great matter' in the dialect of Miyazaki. And indeed, the festival is filled with great excitement.
Other attractions of this festival include the 'Taiko-mai', a performance by taiko drum groups from around the prefecture, and the 'Kitchen Garden', where the rich ingredients of Miyazaki can be met. These various events and performances wonderfully represent the spirit of the festival.
Kutami Festival is held in Shinmei at the Shirahige Shrine. The festival takes place in spring when the cherry trees are in full blossom and there is a freshness in the air. The festival features six gorgeous floats that parade through the town to lively music.
The highlight of the festival is the 'thread-separating trick', which has been designated as a National Intangible Folklore Cultural Asset and a Prefectural Important Folklore Cultural Asset. The 'trick' is a kind of marionette performance. Threads are not directly linked to the 'trick', which is enacted using an original technique that differs to usual puppetry. The performance is highly valued in terms of both history and art.
This unique marionette performance changes its theme every year and may center around, for example, a folk tale, recent news, popular animation or sports. Each year presents something new and refreshing.
Sendai Tanabata Festival is one of Tohoku's four major festivals, which include Aomori Nebuta, Akita Kanto and Amagata Hanagasa festivals.
Sendai Tanabata Festival is not a traditional local festival because it has taken place in various places since the Edo period. It is said that it the festival was beloved by the clan patriarch, Date Masamune.
Following the adoption of the Western calendar in the Meiji period, the festival diminished year by year. But in 1927, volunteer merchants revived it to shake off the economic recession at that time. It is said that children who saw the spectacle, applauded for a long time after it. Sendai Tanabata Festival deteriorated during the war in the early 20th century and did not take its present shape until after 1926.
Ukiyoe are woodblock prints depicting aspects of life in the Edo period. 'Ukiyo' means the present world and ukiyoe are pictures that take as their subject daily life, scenery and people during that period.
Lives of the common people were first depicted in Kyoto during the Azuchi-momoyama period. After that, ukiyoe spread and became popular among many people in the Edo period.
In the beginning, depictions of people were only painted by hand or printed in a few light colours. But with advances in printing techniques and the improvement in quality of paper, colorful prints called nishikie, were also made and became popular.
The subject matter of ukiyoe varies from figures, such as beautiful ladies, actors and samurai, to famous views and humorous stories.
Although the artistic level of ukiyoe is very high, they were only printed to be used as fliers or posters. In the Meiji period, they were even used as a wrapping paper for export pottery. Many foreign artists were influenced by the prints that they saw this way.
Ukiyoe is famous all over the world and attracts many people.
Miharu papier-mache craft is believed to have originated when Akita Morisue, the 4th lord of the Akita Clan based at Miharu castle, invited a doll-maker from Edo to introduce the art and culture of Edo and Kyoto to his locality.
There is uniqueness and beauty in this simple craft. Between 1688 and 1703, one samurai in the Miharu clan is said to have retired and begun crafting dolls using traditional Japanese paper and a technique known as 'tsutsumi'--a papier-mache doll-making skill from Sendai prefecture. This skill gradually became more refined and today it is practised in Takashiba Dekoya, in the Abuyama mountain district.
Papier-mache models of Tengu, Ebisu, Ooguro, Otafuku, Daruma and Mai-ningyo are made from wet Japanese washi paper, then dried and painted. The figures are engaging and colorful, and embody good fortune, as well as carry a natural earthiness.