Teizan Canal, 46.6 km in total length, is Japan’s longest canal built along Sendai Bay, connecting the mouth of the Old Kitakami River and the mouth of the Abukuma River. The first section of the canal, which connected Matsushima Bay and the Abukuma River, was constructed in 1597 by the order of Date Masamune. After his death, the extension works were continued. The canal was named after Masamune’s Buddhist name.
Until the end of the 19th century, boats and ships were the main means of transportation in Japan. After the Meiji restoration (1868), Home Minister, Okubo Toshimichi, asked the governors of the 6 prefectures in the Tohoku region about what they most needed. As a result, he concluded that construction of the canal to connect the Kitakami River, the main artery of the region, and the Abukuma River was indispensable for transporting rice. The construction was completed in 1884.
Today, it is used as an agricultural waterway and functions as a part of fishing ports. In the area along the canal from the Nanakita River to the Natori River spreads a fine seaside park, where a beautiful pine grove continues and a cycling road is equipped.
Enzu-no-wari is a traditional lunar new year festival held in Miyato, Matsushima of Miyagi Prefecture. The festival includes the 'tori-oi' in the Tsukishima area of Miyato. This is a festival to pray for a good harvest, good catch of fish, family safety and success in business. The Enzu-no-wari is designated as an important intangible cultural folk asset of Japan, since it is a valuable example of an historical festival held today.
Every year, for seven days from 11-16 January, boys from 2nd grade in elementary schools and 2nd grade in junior high schools of the Tsukishima area stay at a grotto under the Isuzu Shrine. The boys eat, sleep and go to school together, and live by themselves during this period.
On the night of the 14th, all the boys visit every house in the Tsukishima area. As they walk, they strike their pine staffs against the ground chanting 'enzu-no-wari, touryouba, kasurawatte, suotsukete, enzogashimasanagase' ('When you go after the vicious bird, crush its head, and send it away to the island of Ezo').
On the next day, they wake up early and make a fire from gathered wood, then chase the birds by calling 'Ho-i, Ho-i'. The boys roast their bellies with the smoke and pray for their good health that year.
By respectfully following tradition, these children will hand down a tradition to future generations.
Nihonmatsu Chochin Lantern festival is held on October 4 to 6 every year at Nihonmatsu Shrine in Nihonmatsu City, Fukushima Prefecture. It is counted as one of Japan's three most prominent lantern festivals.
The festival was first held in 1643 by Niwa Mitsushige, the first lord of the Nihonmatsu domain. He thought it was vitally important to encourage his people to worship gods in order to govern his domain in an ideal way. Then he founded Nihonmatsu Shrine in the village of Kurigasaku and made it open to the public worshippers.
During the festival, the parade of seven huge floats painted with lacquer and decorated with gold powder goes through the town. Each float carries a group of taiko drummers accompanied by flamboyant sounds of flutes and gongs. At night, about 350 red chochin lanterns hung from each float brightly illuminate the streets.
Shimoda Yanimatsu woodwork is a traditional handicraft in Shimoda City, Shizuoka Pref. Though a port town, Shimoda is also abundant in forestry resource, which has been highly esteemed as the materials for architecture, construction fittings, and furniture. In the Tenpo era (1830-1843), Kagaya, one of the furniture and fitting makers in Shimoda, had a lot of workmen and produced excellent woodwork craftsmen. The material wood of Shimoda woodwork is black pine called Yanimatsu (pine with plenty of resin), which grow along the coast of this area. In Shimoda Yanimatsu woodwork, the beautiful grain of wood that nature has created and its translucent texture produced by resin are fully utilized to create warm touch. It is the combination of nature’s process and craftsmen’s careful work.
The custom of 'kadomatsu' door decoration has been popular all over Japan since olden times.
Kadomatsu are placed in front of houses to welcome the New Year deity, purify the entrance and drive demons and evil spirits out. Originally, they were made from evergreen woods such as pine, cedar, beech and sakaki. But the prevalence of the use of pine has led to their naming as 'kadomatsu' ('gate pine').
'Pine lasts for 1000 years and bamboo for 10,000 years' is an old Japanese proverb. Pine and bamboo are popular materials for kadomatsu because people wish that Yorishiro, the place in which the deity lives, will last forever.
According to custom, kadomatsu should not be set up on 31st December. This is because it is not faithful to have only one day before welcoming the deity on New Year's Day. Moreover, the 29th should also be avoided because 'nine matsu' is the same pronunciation as 'wait for pain'. Usually, kadomatsu are set up by the 28th.
The Tsuda-no-matsubara is a waterfront located within Kinrin Park in Tsuda-machi, Sanuki-shi, Kagawa Prefecture. This waterfront is designated as part of the Setonaikai National Park and was built 400 years ago, on the orders of Tokugawa Ieyasu.
It is said that the name 'kinrin' derives from the sound of the sea breeze in the pine trees, which sounds like the 'kin' (or the 'koto', a traditional instrument). About 3,000 pine trees are reputed to thrive in Tsuda-no-Matsubara. Not only is the scenery exquisite, it also acts a windbreak.
Also here, are seven aged pine trees named for the Seven Gods of Fortune. Bridges lie along the trail, including the notable Negae-bashi ('Wish Bridge') and, on the way back, the Kanae-bashi ('Come True Bridge'). Legend has it that, if you recite your dreams and wishes to yourself as you cross this bridge, they will come true.
In the swimming season, the seashore, with its white sand and green pine trees, becomes lively and animated with people. This beach is cherished and revered by many people, and is sometimes used as a movie location.
Surrounded by oddly shaped rocky hills half dug away and showing bare hillside, this deserted land is the remains of Izumiyama Kaolin Deposit where the Korean ceramist, Lee Cham-Pyung (Japanese name Ri Sampei) discovered kaolin for the first time in Japan about 400 years ago. The site was designated as National Historic Spot in 1980. With the discovery of kaolin in Izumiyama, it became possible to produce porcelains in Japan. In the Edo period, kaolin was under the strict control of Sarayama Magistrate’s Office of Nabeshima Province. In the Meiji period, a whole mountain had been dug away and even more digging was made in the ground, as the result of which it was confirmed that there was a lot more kaolin in the underground layers. However, as the problem of water drainage arose, they gave up further digging and began to obtain kaolin from Amakusa in Kumamoto Pref. The amount of mining decreased with the course of time. Some had been used for making tiles until recently, but the resources are nearly exhausted and the quarry is now closed. There is an opening space in the center of the remains. Standing there and looking up the surrounding rocks, you will see lush foliage of pine trees making strong contrast with white rock surface.
Japan’s representative lacquer artist, a bearer of Important Intangible Cultural Heritage (designated in 1955), a recipient of the Order of Cultural Merit (1976). Born on April 20th, 1896, in Kanazawa, Ishikawa Prefecture.After graduating from Tokyo Fine Arts School (present Tokyo NationalUniversity of Fine Arts and Music), Matsuda Gonroku made a brilliant figurein his youth and dealt with a lot of work such as interior decoration of a passenger ship or Gokyusho (Emperor’s room) of the National Diet Building. Since the turbulent period right after World War II, he had made exertionsin the field of restoration of Japan’s traditional craftwork and international cultural exchange, among which were the preservation andrestoration of Kon-do (the main hall) of Chuson-ji Temple and research of Shoso-in treasures .In 1955, he founded Nohon Kougeikai and trained a lot of younger craftsmen as a leader of the post-war revitalizing movement of art and culture inJapan. He modernozed the classical art of raden or hyomon and establishedhis own gracious and gorgeousas well as expansive art style.Among his famous works are Horai Cabinet and Small Green tea container(Sakura-ryusuimon-shindai-keyaki-natume) . In his works, heexuberantly expressed a variety of motifs from the natural world by adoptingbold composition, fresh design and high technique.