NIPPON Kichi - 日本吉

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2008/3/17


【気】 Ki Energy, Spirit, Atmosphere

Jp En

Its original character is 气. Again, the original character of 气 is 乞, the form of moving clouds. 気 can be thought of as the basic unit of energy, be it air, atmosphere, weather, vapor, or breathing.
In ‘Explanation of Common Use Kanji,’ the last character dictionary of Dr. Shirakawa, for the first time in his dictionaries, we find his explanation commenting on the vital role of 米 ‘rice’ nurturing 気 spirit or energy. By the way, also Jacob Chang-Ui Kim from Korea gave a similar view in his English explanation of Kanji.
Food is what supplies living beings with energy. Without eating, one cannot live and there is no vitality. From ancient times on, rice is the basic food and basis of energy in East Asia.
The upper part of 気 can also be thought of as the rising steam from rice boiling, and it therefore may even be regarded as a pictograph. In Japanese, 気 came to be used in a lot of expressions describing human feelings and states of mind. In East Asia as a whole, it has become the basis of martial arts culture built on the importance of breathing techniques, as Chinese shadow boxing and Aikidō.
In ancient Greek philosophy, with ‘pneuma,’ there is a very similar notion. The Stoa, a classic school of thought that commends pantheism and a life style following the laws of nature, taught that ‘pneuma,’ the most fine matter like air, is the carrier of ‘logos,’ or world reason, extant everywhere in the universe. In this sense, 気 is (was) a common way of thinking in East and West.
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2007/1/25


太宰府天満宮 Dazaifu-tenmanguu Daizaifu Tenmangu Shrine

Jp En

The renowned Daizaifu Tenmangu Shrine is located in Saifu, Daizaifu-shi, Fukuoka Prefecture, and is famous for enshrining the deity of Sugawara no Michizane (a scholar, poet and politician of the Heian period). The shrine is also known for possessing the national treasure, 'Kanen Kandai Sanju-ichi' ('The Thirty-first Writing of the Kanen').

Michizane was exiled to this land following false accusations by the Fujiwara family and died here in 903. However, the ox-cart carrying Michizane's body back to the city for a formal burial, for some unknown reason broke down on the way and couldn't be moved. Considering this bizarre happening as Michizane's last wish, his body was not sent to the city, and instead buried in a grave on this land.

After Michizane's death, Kyoto experienced many disastrous plagues and abnormal weather; people feared this was Michizane's curse. Daizaifu Tenmangu Shrine was built on Michizane's grave to alleviate and break the curse. Since then, Michizane has been recognized as an excellent and brilliant scholar in life, and then posthumously enshrined as the God of Scholarship and Knowledge.

Many people visit the shrine today, and still venerate Michizane as a god. Daizaifu Tenmangu Shrine, along with Kitano Tenmangu Shrine and the Hofu Tenmangu Shrine in Hofu, are considered the San-Tenjin (The Three Great Gods of the Heavens).
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2007/1/19


紅葉 Kouyou Autumnal Leaves

Jp En

When autumn arrives, the leaves of deciduous trees turn color, but because of the strong impression of leaves turning red, the autumnal color-changing of leaves is generally called 'kouyou (red/reddening leaves)'. Accurately defined, leaves that turn yellow are called 'ouyou (yellow/yellowing leaves)', while leaves that turn brown are called 'katsuyou (brown/browning leaves)' and so on, respectively.

No matter the color, the substance that is said to have a large part in causing leaves to turn color is a pigment called anthocyanin.

The color-changing of leaves begins when weather with a minimum temperature of 8 degrees Celsius continues for several days. When the minimum temperature dips below 5 degrees Celsius, the color-changing process becomes faster. The best conditions for beautiful color-changing are, long sunshine duration, strong UV rays, appropriate humidity, and a large difference between day temperature and night temperature.

Almost all of the famous 'kouyou' locations are in environments where these requirements are adequately fulfilled. Along with 'hanami (cherry-blossom viewing)' in spring, the 'kouyougari (red-leaf watching)' of autumn is also a nationwide event.
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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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