NIPPON Kichi - 日本吉

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2007/1/26


五稜郭 Goryoukaku Goryoukaku Fortress

Jp En

Goryoukaku is a late-Edo period fortress located in Hakodate, Hokkaido. The star-shaped fortress is also known as Kameda Yakusho Dorui.

Goryoukaku was constructed on the orders of the Tokugawa Shogunate to provide an administrative center and place for defense following the opening of Hakodate as a port with the declaration of the Convention of Kanagawa.

The fortress is designed in a Western style, which was a standard form for war purposes. It was preliminarily made as a fortress against foreign threats, although it was later transformed into a government institution.

In 1922, the fortress was designated as a national ruin and in 1952 it was chosen as a special national ruin. Nowadays it is known as a beauty spot for cherry blossom.
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2007/1/12


八重山ミンサー Yaeyamaminsaa Yaeyama Minsa Fabric

Jp En

Yaeyama minsa is a fabric made on the Yaeyama Islands in Okinawa Prefecture. This fabric often features a design of alternating five-and-four square 'kasuri' (scratched) patterns on indigo-dyed material. The centipede-like lines are highly individual.

The origin of this fabric dates back to before the 17th century, and the Okinawan word 'minsa' derives from the words 'sar' ('sash') and 'min' ('cotton').  The alternating five-and-four kasuri design is said to mean 'wish you will be with me for eternity'. ('Eternity' in Japanese is 'itsu-no-yo': 'itsu' sounds like the word for 'five' and 'yo' sounds like the word for 'four'.) This symbolised the weaving woman's feelings for her lover.

Yaeyama minsa is woven from cotton thread dyed with natural plant dyes in a southern manner. Sashes, neckties and bags are woven.

The dyed color is usually indigo and the contrast between white and dark blue is vivid and beautiful.
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2006/12/11


越前漆器 Echizen-shikki Echizen lacquer ware

Jp En

Echizen is one of the five big producing areas of Japanese lacquer ware
(Yamanaka, Aizu, Echizen, Kishu, and Wajima). Echizen lacquer ware, or
Kawada lacquer ware, is produced around the area of Kawada-cho and
Katayama-cho, Sabae City, Fukui Pref., where you can find a lot of lacquer
craft workshops and lacquerers. The history of Echizen lacquer ware dates
back to the 6th century, about 1500 years ago, when the emperor of the times
ordered a lacquerer to apply recoating of lacquer on a kanmuri or a formal
headpiece of the emperor. After having recoated the kanmuri, the craftsman
also presented a black-lacquered bowl to the Emperor, who was strongly
impressed with its beauty and encouraged this handicraft. Echizen lacquer
ware is still practically used in our daily life because it is not only
elegant and beautiful but also hardwearing and easy to use. Its gloss colors
contain profound beauty under its surficial gorgeousness.
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2006/11/27


絵馬 Ema Ema

Jp En

Ema are wooden plates on which people write their prayers. Then they are hung up at a shrine as offerings to the gods. Ema usually take a shape of pentagon because the plates used to have roofs on them. Ema have a history going back to the Nara period (710-794), when a picture of a horse was offered to a shrine instead of a real horse. Each shrine uses its unique and traditional Ema. At Fushimi Inari Shrine, for example, the face of a fox is painted on the plate because a fox is considered to be the god’s messenger. On Ema for the wish of preventing eye diseases, a Japanese hiragana letter of “me (meaning an eye in Japanese)” is written. Or the inverted letter of “me” is written on some plates. Those who want to prevent their husbands’ flirtation use Ema with the Kanji meaning “heart” and the picture of the lock and key drawn on them. In the present days people also like to attach miniature Ema to their key chains or cell phones as bringer of good luck.
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NIPPON Kichi - 日本吉 - 日本語に切り替える NIPPON Kichi - 日本吉 - to english

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