Lantern Festival is held in the area around Maizuru Park in Takanabe Town, Miyazaki Prefecture, on around October 15 every year under the theme “To foster the moral principal,” which was the motto of “Meirindo,” the official school of the Takanabe domain established by the 3rd lord of the domain, Akizuki Nobutane, in the late 17th century.
About 1,500 stone and bamboo lanterns place in the main festival site as well as in many places in the town are lit at the same time, which fantastically illuminate this old castle town. Among them are unique paper lanterns made by elementary and junior high school students. Including the volunteers who light lanterns, all the townspeople cooperate with one another to make the festival successful.
On the festival day, various events such as the jazz concert “Horidoko no Utage” and the local product fair are held everywhere in the park.
Ohitsuwari, or also called Ohachiwari, held on the 3rd Sunday of October at Muro Shinmei-sha Shrine in Nishio City, Aichi Prefecture, is a Shinto ritual to pray for a rich harvest and household safety. It has been passed down since the late Edo period (1603-1868) and is designated as a Nishio City’s Intangible Folk Cultural Property.
Ohitsuwari (the rice container breaking) is a very rough and spectacular Shinto ceremony. Right after the 15 men who are at an unlucky age, called yaku-otoko, are given ohitsu, which contains Sekihan (“red rice” made of glutinous rice and red beans), by a Shinto priest, they start struggling with each other to get the ohitsu pushing and shoving.
Then the men beat broken the cover of the ohitsu with their bare hands, and visitors also join and scramble to grab the red rice. It is said that if you eat this red rice, you can live in good health through the year. The scene of the yaku-otoko and visitors struggling for red rice in confusion is worth seeing.
Shizuka Shirakawa was a world-leading scholar of “kanji”, or Chinese characters.
Mr. Shirakawa was born in 1910 in Fukui Prefecture. He became fascinated with Kanji in his mid teens and subsequently worked voraciously to acquire more knowledge about the subject.
He published “Kanji”, a kanji dictionary in 1970, which established his unique viewpoint undermining commonly accepted theory in Kanji study.
Since then, he published “Shikyou”, “Kinbun no Sekai” and “Koushiden” all in which he introduced his original and innovative interpretation of Chinese philosophy and culture. “Jitou”, published in 1984, was a kanji etymology in which he studied the origin of letters. He pursued his unique approach to kanji study in which he found some magico-religious meaning in the composition of kanji. “Jitou” was followed by two more publications; “Jikun” and “Jitsuu”, all of which became highly influential as his trilogy on kanji studies.
In 1997, he was appointed the director at Institute of Letter and Culture. The following year, he was named as “Bunka Kourousha”, a recognition given to a person who has performed distinguished services in the field of culture.
In 2004, he received the Order of Cultural Merit, one of Japan’s highest honors. He passed away on October 30th, 2006, at the age of 96.
His insatiable quest in the universe of Kanji has influenced many scholars and his ideas are still being developed and advanced today.
Yanaizu Kokuzoson is a temple in Tsuyama-cho Yanaizu, Tome City, Miyagi Prefecture. Together with Fukuman Kokuzoson at Enzoji Temple in Yanaizu-machi, Fukushima Prefecture and the one at Shokoan Temple in Yanai City, Yamaguchi Prefecture, this Kukuzoson is counted as one of Japan’s Three Finest Kokuzoson.
Yanaizu Kokuzoson was founded in 726, when Priest Gyoki, who had been traveling all over the country preaching and carrying out civil engineering works, visited this place and carved out the image of Kokuzo Bosatsu, praying for peace and stability of the country. The temple is widely known as one of the few most historic temples in the Tohoku region.
The Grand Festival held from 12th to 13th in April and October every year is visited by a lot of worshipper from inside and outside the prefecture. It features the meal serving ritual called Kenzen Procession and the Goma fire ritual.
At noon, a procession of the priests and the temple laymen carrying trays with delicacies from sea and mountains leaves the Kuri (priests’ quarters) for the main hall to dedicate a meal to the principal object of worship, Kokuzo Bosatsu. After the procession, the Goma fire ritual is performed, in which a lot of Gomagi (prayer sticks) with people’s written prayers for family safety, traffic safety and passing entrance examinations and so on, are burned with holy fire. All the attendants quietly offer their prayers to Bosatsu.
The Atsuta River is a 30 km clear stream running through the Atsuta district in Ishikari City, Hokkaido. Flowing out of the Mashike mountains, the watershed areas are blessed with bountiful nature. In the upstream area, a beautiful gorge continues along the gentle stream.
The river is famous for salmon swimming up in the clear water. From September through October, when the leaves of the trees lining the gorge turn red and yellow, you can see a lot of salmon swaying their bodies and swimming near the surface of the river.
The river is also a famous canoeing spot. A lot of people stay at the nearby camping site and come to enjoy canoeing in this river. People enjoy going down the river, while salmon go up the river to produce new life.
Ayamegahara Primeval Flower Garden spread on the small cape called Chinbe-no-hana located about 12 km away from the central part of Akkeshi Town in the eastern part of Hokkaido.
As many as 300,000 stocks of beachhead iris (Iris setosa) come into bloom from the middle of June to the early July on this 100 ha flatland. During the blooming season, visitors can enjoy communities of iris and the panoramic view of the Pacific Ocean beyond the flower garden. During this period, the flower field is sometimes wrapped in a dense fog from the ocean, which will allow you to experience the mystic atmosphere. Other than irises, this primitive flower garden is filled with as many as 120 species of wild plants that produce flowers one after another from May through October.
Why has such a large-scale primitive flower garden been created on this plateau? The answer is the horse. The horses depastured in this field didn’t eat irises but ate other grass for choice. Shouldn’t we give thanks to the horses for this floral paradise?
Hazuki is a Japanese traditional name for August on the old calendar. Hazuki (葉月) literally means “a leaf month.”
There are several theories concerning its origin. One theory states that as it falls on September to October on the Gregorian calendar, it is the month of falling leaves. Another states that it is a pun for “Inagarizuki,” which means the month when ears of rice plants swell, and still another staes that it is a pun for “Harizuki.” August on the lunar calendar is also called “Tsukimi-zuki (a moon-viewing month),” for it is the month when Chushu no meigetsu (a beautifu mid-autumn moon) can be viewed.
In the Tohoku region, a large and famous annual festivals such as Aomori Nebuta Festival (Aug. 2nd-7th), Akita Kanto Festival (Aug. 4th-8th), and Sendai Tanabata Festival are held, and people enjoy short summer
Kannazuki is a Japanese traditional name for October. Kannazuki (神無月) can be translated literally as “the month when there are no gods.” In Shinto tradition it was said that the eight million gods of Japan left their shrines and congregated annually in October at Izumo Taisha Shrine in Shimane Prefecture. In Izumo, by contraries, it is considered trendy to call October “Kamiarizuki,” which means “the month when the gods are present.”
There are still other theories as to its origin, however. The most strongly supported theory is that the 無 character should be a particle meaning “of” and therefore Kannazuki means the month of gods. Another unique theoru staes that it is a pun for Kaminashizuki (雷無月), which literally means the month without thunderstorms.
The day around October 8th is called Kanro (cold dew) and it is said that the year’s’ first dew condensation can be seen on this day. Leaves turn red in the middle of October and the day around October 23rd is called Soko (frost descent), when the year’s first frost covers the ground in the northern part of the nation. As winter draws near, it is getting colder and colder and biting north winds start to blow in this season.