NIPPON Kichi - 日本吉

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2007/10/31


玉陵(世界遺産) Tama-udun Tamaudun (World Heritage Site)

Jp En

Tamaudun located in Shuri Kinjo-cho, Naha City, Okinawa Pref. is a royal mausoleum of the Ryukyu Kingdom. It is a National Historic Site and was registered with UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2000.
The mausoleum was constructed by King Sho Shin in 1501. In Okinawa, there is a tradition of building a large and fine tomb to express the reverence to the ancestors. It is considered that the king had an intention of using his people’s reverence toward their ancestors for the stabilization and reinforcement of the national unity. The mausoleum is divided into three compartments laid out from east to west. The bodies were placed in the central compartment till they were skeletonized, and then the dry bones were taken out to be cleansed. After that the bones of kings and queens were placed in the eastern compartment and the other members of the royal family in the western compartment.
Although Tamaudun was severely damaged by Battles of Okinawa, it was restored to the present form after the World War II. Tamaudun was a sacred place of the ancient Ryukyu Kingdom.
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2007/9/14


【環】 Kan The Character for Cycle, Ring, Surround

Jp En

'Kan' (as in 環境 'Kankyo': environment, surroundings) has a form that shows a rather deep meaning. The upper part of the character is 'eye.' ○ means 'gem' or 'precious stone.' Apart from the character form made up of these three elements, there is also a character form with the 'gem' classifier. The 'gem' classifier (the character's radical on the left) takes the form of a 'cord' passing through three 'gems.'

Actually, 'Kan' is related to funeral customs and the belief in resurrection from death and faith. As the 'eye' above is open, it symbolizes resurrection from death. In antiquity, it was the custom to bury a dead person with his or her possessions. This character takes the form of a gem around the neck of the deceased's dress. As can be seen in the character 含, there also was a custom of placing a gem in the deceased's 口 mouth.

Dr. Shirakawa mentions, in works such as 'Koshiden: The Life of Confucius,' that Zhuang Zi (in 'The True Classic of Southern (Cultural) Fluorescence') often describes such customs as above. However, as is to be expected from a leading Daoist, he is rather critical and negative. For example, in Zhuang Zi's 'Miscellaneous Chapters, Esoteric Things,' he satirizes Confucians who retrieve gems attached to corpses following exact descriptions of the deceased's possessions in 'The Book of Odes,' which later Confucians have regarded as a moral authority. Dr. Shirakawa has pointed out that in the work of Nishida Kitaro, a representative philosopher of Japan, one can see good influence from Zhuang Zi, who, in a sense, has philosophized the world of Chinese characters. In this respect, Kanji have a dimension that connects the past with the present.

環境 'Kankyo: environment' is closely related to the fate of mankind. Wouldn't it be a really appropriate character to think about when maintaining a healthy environment?
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2007/1/31


着付け Kitsuke Kitsuke (the art of kimono dressing)

Jp En

Kitsuke is the art to wear or dress someone the wafuku in a proper manner. The wafuku is traditional Japanese clothing or the national costume of Japan. Different from the steric western-style clothing, the wafuku or kimono consists of flat pieces of cloth, which requires the distinctive art of dressing to prevent one from getting loose. The rules to dress the kimono differ by gender, age, marriage status, or the event. There are even more precise rules are fixed in the case of happy events and funerals. There are also several schools in Kitsuke, among which there are minor differences in the way of tying obi-belts or using small accessories, but no major difference in the way of dressing kimono itself. Today few people wear the kimono in their daily life, so on occasions when people wear the kimono for a special event such as a New Year’s Day or the Coming-of-Age ceremony, they visit an expert to have their kimono dressed.
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2007/1/5


京黒紋付染 Kyokuro-montsukizome Kyo Black Dyeing with Crests

Jp En

Kyo black dyeing with crests is black-dyed formal clothing with crests such as black kimonos for weddings and funerals.  The cloth is dyed black with a brush in a technique called ‘three times-black’ and then, a crest is printed on it.  It is a very traditional form of handicraft in Kyoto.
The history of black dyeing dates back to the 10th century, but it was at the beginning of the Edo period that the technique of black dyeing with crests was established.  After the mid- Edo period, a form of dyeing known as binrouji dyeing, in which dyes are made with indigo, became popular, particularly amongst  the samurais who cherished the black formal crested kimono.  In the Meiji period, once the crested haori and hakama were designated as the national formal dress (haori is a short jacket and hakama are long pleated culotte-like trousers), kyo black dyeing with crests became more famous.  After the Meiji period, techniques were adopted from  England, France and Germany, and the less time-consuming technique of ‘black dyeing with brushes’ replace ‘binrouji dyeing’.  This age-old technique is now applied to T-shirts and so on, not just formal dress; so many people appreciate it.
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