Saitorisashi is a traditional dance that has been carried down over the ages in Tottori. Saitorisashi means the person who captures, or the act of capturing, a small bird, which was traditionally used by the nobility as bait in falconry.
A long time ago, people, who been granted the license or pardon to engage in saitorisashi, gained power and brought ruin to the land. It is said that the saitorisashi dance originated when ordinary folk, in order to oppose the tyranny of feudalism, started to dance and sing in a Kyogen style (a comical form of theater) at drinking parties and so on. Shortly after, the idea of saitorisashi changed, from capturing birds to 'capturing' a wife or happiness, and was passed down as a congratulatory kyogen.
The dance is performed by four or five people, all wearing happi coats and headbands, while holding the stick of Torimochi, and hanging a license of pardon on their waists. The humorous outfit, accompanied by the energetic singing and dancing, results in a very pleasant, and enjoyable atmosphere. Saitorisashi is an important traditional performing art, which has been passed down from the Edo period.
Chugu-ji Temple is one of the three major Yamato Monzeki temples. It is close to Horyuji-temple in Ikaruga Town, Ikoma County, Nara Prefecture, and is associated with Shotoku Taishi.
Chugu-ji Temple was established in the 29th year of the Suiko Emperor period (621), when Shotoku Taishi changed a house of his mother, Anahobe-no-Hashihito Queen, into a temple.
After Sonchi Queen became a nun in the temple, Chugu-ji Temple became a Monzeki temple, one in which the imperial family or aristocrats live and train themselves.
The Miroku Bodhisattva statue, a national treasure preserved in one of the main buildings, was made in the late Asuka period and is the oldest example of marquetry work in the country. The figure, with its left leg folded under it and its right finger lightly touching its cheek, is beautiful and famous. 'Tenjukoku-shuchu' is a collection of valuable embroidery dating to the Asuka period. A princess, Tachiba-no-Ooiratsume, mourning over Shotoku Taishi's death, was ordered to embroider the other side. Now, you can see its replica in the temple.
Kusatsu-juku is the 52nd of the 53 post stations along the Tōkaidō from Edo to Kyoto. From 1635 to 1870, a period of 235 years, Kusatsu-juku Honjin was a special inn used only by nobility and government officials.
Kusatsu-juku lies at the branch of the Tōkaidō and Nakayama roads and there used to be over 100 inns here. Kusatsu-juku Honjin is the largest of its type still standing. Names like Asano Naganori and Kira Yoshinaka can be seen on the register.
The head of the honjin, the Daifukucho, kept a record of visitors from 1692 to 1874, a total of 182 years. There is one register book per year, and in total there are 182 books. In Kusatsu-juku, there were 2 honjin, 2 sub-honjin, and about 70 inns.
Of all these, the Tanaka Shichizaemon Honjin has kept to its original appearance. In 1949, it was designated as an important cultural asset and attracted many people to the world of Edo. It was restored and opened to the public in April 1996.
A Japanese-style room is never without tatami mats. Many of the items and influences in Japanese cultures came from foreign countries, such as ancient China or the Korean Peninsula. But tatami were invented through the Japanese people's wisdom of living.
The history of tatami dates back 1000 years. In the Heian period, tatami were very expensive. They were installed in the mansions of the nobility and there are extant paintings of people sitting on tatami.
Tatami materials include rushes or rice straw. The stalks of these plants have fine cavities like spider-webs, which absorb moisture and harmful organic substances. Moreover, the cavities act as air-cushions to keep people from injury. The rough surface of tatami stimulates the soles of feet which in turn helps activate the brain. In addition, the unique smell of the rushes has an effect like aromatherapy.
Tatami remind us of the best of Japanese traditions.