NIPPON Kichi - 日本吉

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2007/12/6


小泉の水祝儀 Koizumi-no-mizu-syuugi Mizushugi (Water Celebration) in Koizumi

Jp En

The custom of Mizushugi (Water Celebration) has been passed down in the Koizumi area in Kami Town, Miyagi Prefecture. It is a water celebration ceremony held on February 2 every year.

Mizushugi used to be held in many places in the prefecture but most of them were already discontinued. It is now preserved in the original form only in the Koizumi area and this custom is prefecturally designated as an intangible folk cultural property.

Newly married couples and the couples who have lived in the village for 1 full-year are invited to the ceremony. They are all formally clothed. When they walk under the torii gate made by the locals reaching each other’s arms and worship Dosojin (the guardian deity of the community) enshrined in the hall, they are allowed to be the members of the locals.

After that, the kanji representing “water” is written on the foreheads of all the participants with Japanese ink. Then all the participants drink sake together to celebrate the new membership and to pray for household safety and safe delivery.

When the ceremony is over, all the participants visit each house in the village and throw up water at the roofs with dippers, calling words for fire extinguishment.
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2007/7/20


とうろう流しと大花火大会 Tourou-nagashi-to-daihanabi-taikai Lantern Floating and the Great Fireworks Display

Jp En

Lantern Floating and the Great Fireworks Display are the features of a special event on 16 August on the Matsubara Coast in Matsushima-cho, Tsuruga, Fukui Prefecture.

These festivities began in 1950 (Showa 25) during the Bon Festival season of the lunar calendar, and were held to appease the spirits of those who had died in the war.

Various fireworks, such as water fireworks and 'star-mines' are set off against the scenic backdrop of Kehi-no-Matsubara. The Great Fireworks Display is the largest-class of fireworks display held along the Sea of Japan coast. 12,000 fireworks are set off in a dynamic show.

At the same time as the fireworks, 6,000 red, blue, and yellow lanterns are set afloat from the Matsubara Coast, while sutras are chanted by monks.

In recent years, lasers and sound systems have been added as massive settings and configurations to the festival. The pyrotechnics begin with bottle rockets and finish with special character fireworks and other elaborate fireworks.

Lantern Floating and the Great Fireworks Display create a harmony between water, light and sound. It is a solemn, even mystic, event.
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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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2007/1/23


俳聖殿 Haiseiden Haisei-den

Jp En

Haisei-den was built in 1942 to celebrate the 300th anniversary of the birth of the famous haiku poet Matsuo Basho. It is located in Iga City, Mie prefecture. The building has been designated as a Cultural Asset of Iga.

Haisei-den is in Ueno Park (the site of Iga Ueno Castle). The building has an unusual design: it is in the shape of Basho on one of his trips. A roof corresponds to his hat, the octagonal eaves to his sash, the pillars to his stick, and a wooden frame to his face. Inside, there is a life-sized statue in Iga ware of Basho seated.

Katsu Kawasaki, a councillor born in Mie, built this strange and magnificent building with money from his own pocket.

On October 12 every year, on the anniversary of Basho's death, a Basho Festival is held to honor his memory and achievements. Moreover, haiku and renku poems from all over Japan are dedicated to Basho's statue, and the statue is opened to the public on this day only.

This building expresses both the traveler and architecture at the same time. There is no similar example and Haisei-den is a masterpiece of unusual architectural art.
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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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