NIPPON Kichi - 日本吉

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2008/1/30


登米新緑薪能 Toyoma-shinryoku-takigi-nou Toyoma Shinryoku Takigi-Noh

Jp En

Toyoma Shinryoku Takigi-Noh is the Noh play put on outdoors with light supplied by bonfires. It is performed in the middle of June every year at Mori Butai, the Noh theater and museum, in Toyoma Town in Tome City, Miyagi Prefecture.

When the bonfires placed on the white sand ground around the stage are lit all at once at 5:00 in the evening, the Noh stage appears out of the darkness. For the following three hours, the elegant Noh plays on the stage together with the sound and smell of burning torches transport spectators somewhere ethereal.

During the Edo period, Noh was considered to be important as Shikigaku (music and dances performed at official occasions) of the warrior class. In the Sendai domain, too, it was given protection and encouragement by the successive domain lords including Date Masamune.

In the territory of the Toyoma-Date family, who followed the formalities of the Date clan, Noh was also extensively practiced and handed down by the warrior class. After the abolition of clans in the Meiji period (1868-1912), the warriors who handed down Noh plays became farmers, which resulted in Noh becoming widespread among townspeople and being inherited in Toyoma Town as Toyoma-Noh.

Toyoma-Noh has been handed down by Toyoma Yokyokukai (Toyoma Noh Chant Society) since 1908. Although they are amateur performers, they keep the tradition with extremely high level of performance that can be compared with professional Noh players. Toyoma-Noh was prefecturally designated as an intangible folk cultural property and it still enjoys wide popularity among people inside and outside the prefecture.
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2007/7/26


えんずのわり Enzu-no-wari Enzu-no-Wari

Jp En

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.
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2007/1/25


小鹿田焼 Onta-yaki Onta-Yaki Ceramic Ware

Jp En

Onta-yaki is a high-fired ceramic ware made in valleys in the Onta region around Hita in Oita Prefecture.

Yanase Miemon, a potter from Chikuzen, was the first craftsman to modify high-fired Koishiwara ware and create Onta ware during the Edo period. To fire Onta ware, Miemon used a 'richokei noborigama' (richo-type multi-chambered climbing kiln) made by Kuroki Jubei from Otsuru.

Over 300 years, Onta ware has come to employ many different decorative techniques, including 'tobikana' (distinct patterns),'hakeme' (slip brushing), 'kushigaki' ('combed' lines), 'uchikake' (waterfall patterns), and 'nagashi'. These designs are made using a variety of colors, such as celadon green, black, amber and yellow.

A well-known story goes that, in 1954 and 1964, Bernard Howell Leach, the prominent British studio potter, visited Hita in Oita and made some Onta ware himself.

Today, the process of preparing the clay continues as it always has with, for example, the 'karausu' (a crusher that uses rivers and rapids for molding clay), which slowly and surely kneads the clay for the different potteries. Preparations such as this help to protect the long history and tradition of Onta ware. In 1995, Onta ware was designated as an important cultural heritage of Japan.
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