NIPPON Kichi - 日本吉

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2008/1/29


【史】 Shi History

Jp En

This is the Kanji 史 ‘Shi’ from 歴史 ‘Rekishi: history.’ Surprisingly, the background of the meaning of 史, however, is not known. In China, historiography started at a very early stage in history. This fact is closely related to the character. The first character form already appears in the tortoise plastron and bone characters. As in 信・吉・哲 and the like, the part 口 here also is a ‘norito’ prayer receptacle. It shows the form of holding a wooden stick which is attached to the ‘norito’ prayer receptacle. It is the form of the ritual of worshipping the spirits of the king’s ancestors. Like 祭る ‘matsuru: to worship,’ 史 also has the reading 史る ‘matsuru: to worship.’ From the meaning of worship itself its meaning shifted to that of the person who conducts the act of worship. The world of ancient China is not based on the principal of separation of religion and state. The role of holding and carrying the ‘norito’ prayer receptacle is a religious service typical for a cleric and at the same time like that of a public servant in the Royal household.
使 and 事 are characters of the same lineage. Worship of the Royal ancestors became the model for ancestor worship of the whole people and it can be said that its record is history itself.
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2007/12/20


【寛】 Kan Tolerance, Leniency

Jp En

This character is a so-called compound ideograph. What regards the upper part 宀 (ukanmuri: roof classifier) which can be seen also in a lot of other characters, it does not simply show a roof, but is the roof of a mausoleum. This character points at the basis of Asian religious culture, the custom of memorial service for the ancestors and ancestor worship. One key to the long period of peace that can be seen in Asian history thus is included in this Kanji. By thinking about the favors received from the ancestors, it is possible to endure the hardships of human life and one becomes wide-hearted and more broad-minded. When recalling one’s ancestors with their different ways of thinking and life philosophy, one becomes more tolerant regarding people leading diametric opposite lives and holding completely different opinions in the present, and the essence of human life shows.
The lower part is a priestess or shrine maiden engaged in a ritual in the mausoleum. Shintō, the indigenous religion of Japan also often has rituals with shrine maidens inspired when in religious frenzy. In such a state, the priestess gets relaxed and conveys a divine message. The appearance of the priestess or shrine maiden at this time stresses her eyes with what in the character form of the Common Use Kanji looks like a grass-classifier but actually is a curse decoration. Both, the minds and hearts of the family taking part in the ritual as well as the relaxed conduct of the priestess or shrine maiden contribute to the meaning of the character.
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2007/2/12


伊賀八幡宮 Iga-hachiman-guu Iga Hachimangu Shrine

Jp En

Iga Hachimangu Shrine is located in Okazaki, Aichi Prefecture. Matsudaira Chikatada, an ancestor of the Tokugawa clan, established it as a place to pray for the protection of his descendants.

Tokugawa Iemitsu enshrined his grandfather, Ieyasu, in this shrine, and later expanded it: the extension he created is the main building we see today. From these facts, we can see that the Tokugawa family had a special feeling toward the shrine.

In the past, when the shrine's tori gate was moved, it meant that war was going to break out soon. The main building is full of colors and is designated as a national treasure. The Zuishin gate and stone bridge are designated as important sites of cultural heritage. Iga Hachimangu Shrine is said to help grant luck to families and for work, as well as to expel evil spirits.
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2007/1/29


常忠寺 Jouchu-ji Jochu-ji Temple

Jp En

Jochu-ji Temple is the site of the tomb to the first Yoshinao of the Otomo clan, an ancestor of Sorin Otomo, a Christian feudal lord of the clan. Sorin Otomo conquered the six countries of Kyushu (Bungo, Bunzen, Chikugo, Chikuzen, Higo and Hizen) during the Warring States period.

Jochu-ji Temple is the family temple of Akitsura Betsuki, who was the leading general of the Sorin Family, as well as a lord of the Yoroidake. It is said that Akitsura was partially paralyzed after being struck by lightning. Despite this, he continued to command his army, but from a 'koshi' (a cart-like vehicle).

At one point, the temple was demolished but was later restored by Yoshiteru Honda between 1704 and 1710. A fire destroyed the temple once more, but it was again restored to its present state in 1806 by the great-grandchild of Yoshiteru.

Over 40 types of water iris have been planted at the temple and, every May, the Jochu-ji Temple iris festival takes place. People can also appreciate fireflies here on summer nights.
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2007/1/24


総持寺祖院 Soujiji-soin Soujiji Soin (Soujiji Temple Ancestral Building)

Jp En

Soujiji Soin (Soujiji Temple Ancestral Building) is the official name of Shogoku-san Soujiji Temple. In the past, it was the headquarters of the Soto Zen sect of Buddhism, which controlled some 80% of Japan's 10,000 temples. About 700 years ago, in the first year of the Kyo period (1321), Keizan-Jokin Zenji established this temple, which became the first 'school for the success of the Soto sect'.

In time, Soujiji Soin flourished and was patronised by powerful families of that time. The number of its branch temples increased, but diminished during the era of civil war in the Warring States period.

In the Edo period, Soujiji Soin was renovated by the Maeda family. In the first year of the Genna period (1615), it was designated as a national shrine by the Tokugawa government. It has more than 70 buildings and many monks came here to train themselves. In Meiji 31 (1898), following a fire which destroyed most of the temple buildings, the headquarters were moved to Tsurumi in Yokohama City, while Soujiji Temple was renovated as ancestral buildings.

The gateway and Buddhist sanctum were rebuilt on the site of the old temple in grounds of about 66,000m2.  Together, they impart the dignified atmosphere of an old temple.
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2007/1/18


金沢神社 Kanazawa-jinjya Kanazawa Shrine

Jp En

In 1794, Maeda Harunaga, the 11th Kaga domain head, built Kanazawa Shrine to commemorate his ancestor Sugawara Michizane, Kaga domain head and member of the Maeda clan.

Harunaga also established a clan school, Meirin-dou, and dedicated Michizane as the protector deity over the school. Even though Meirin-dou eventually was moved to another place for the construction of Kenroku-en, the shrine remained.

Maeda Narinaga, the 12th domain head, built Takezawa House and invoked the same deity to protect the house, renaming it Tenman-gu. In 1876, it was renamed Kanazawa Shrine.

Kanazawa Shrine is famous as the best place in Ishikawa prefecture to pray for academic success. Many entrance examinees come to the shrine and fervently pray.

In the precincts of the shrine is Kinjo Spiritual Stream, along which Kanazawa was built. It is said that if you walk around the pond three times and pray, your wish will come true.
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