NIPPON Kichi - 日本吉

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2007/7/31


上杉雪灯篭まつり Uesugi-yukidourou-matsuri Uesugi Snow Lantern Festival

Jp En

Uesugi Snow Lantern Festival is held annually in Yonezawa, Yamagata Prefecture. 300 lanterns and 2000 bonbori lanterns, all of which are made of snow, are lined across Matsugasaki Park on the 2nd Saturday and Sunday of February.

The sight of the candles flickering in the wind creates a magical beauty, inviting visitors into a surreal fairytale-like world. An immense snow monument built for soothing the souls of those who were never able to return to their hometown alive during the World War II, stands on top of the Hill Of Requiem located in the center of the park. Throughout the night, citizens come to light candles in memory of the dead.

A snow-viewing party is held at the neighboring Uesugi Kinenkan hall, where the local cuisine can be enjoyed. It is a great luxury to toast and feast on the local sake and cuisine while quietly viewing the flickering snow lanterns outside.
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2007/2/19


習字 Shuuji Shuji, Japanese Calligraphy

Jp En

The purpose of shuji, Japanese calligraphy, is to write the correct word.

Shuji differs from shodo in that, while shodo shows the beauty of a written word, letter or character, shuji is about learning the word and improving one's concentration.

It is said that the art of shuji came from China and the Korean Peninsula. Later, the writing of shuji impacted the aristocracy and warrior class. The aristocrat wrote unfussy words. In contrast, the warriors wrote powerful words.

Shuji is a necessary aspect of a liberal arts education in Japan, which affects all other aspects of Japanese culture.
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2007/2/9


仙台城 Sendai-jyou Sendai Castle

Jp En

Sendai Castle is located on Mt Aoba in Sendai, Miyagi Prefecture. Constructed in 1601, the castle is also known as Aoba Castle. Date Masamune established the castle during the Keicho years. For 270 years it was the home of the Date family and the Sendai clan's seat of government. Due to its inconvenient setting on a mountain, the Date family moved from Sendai Castle to Wakabayashi-yakata.

Sendai Castle is constructed in a circular enclosure system with Hon-no-maru in the center and Ni-no-maru, Higashi-no-maru and San-no-maru on the outer sides. The buildings are protected by Hirose River, and to the south by Ryu-no-guchi Valley.

After crossing Hirose bridge and climbing the gentle hill, one sees the ruins of the Ote Gate, which was said to resemble a reconstruction of Hizen Nagoya Castle. Ote Gate was destroyed by war, but today the restored gate and fortress give a a feel of the old atmosphere of the castle in former times.
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2007/1/26


上杉家廟所 Uesugi-ke-byousyo Uesugi Clan Mausoleum

Jp En

The mausoleum of the Uesugi Clan is located in Yonezawa in Yamagata Prefecture. The Uesugi-ke-byousyo is the final resting place for the long line of the Uesugi clan.

The tomb of the clan founder, Kenshin Uesugi, can be found in the center of the mausoleum, while the tombs housing the remains of up to 12 generations of his descendants spread out to both sides. The tombs for the 2nd to 8th generation descendants are made of Japanese zelkova with circular columns and are in the Yashiro architectural style. Tombs for the 9th to 12th generation descendants are made from Japanese cedar and cypress with simple square columns, built in the Hougyou architectural style at the request of the 10th generation Youzan. Either way, the styles of the tombs show the personality of the Uesugi clan perfectly.

The remains of founder Kenshin Uesugi were placed in a jar along with his armor and were transported from Echigo-kasuga-yama (present day Jyouetsu City, Niigata Prefecture), via Aizu (present day Aizu-wakamatsu City, Fukushima Prefecture) and Yonezawa Castle, and finally to the Uesugi-ke-byousyou in the 9th year of the Meiji period.

Yonezawa Clan Uesugi Clan Mausoleum was designated a National Monument in January 1984.
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2007/1/25


法華堂跡 Hokkedou-ato The Ruin of Hokkedo

Jp En

The Ruin of Hokkedo is the burial tower of Yoritomo Minamotono, and is located in Nishimikado, Kamakura, in Kanagawa Prefecture.

The Hokkedo was originally a place which enshrined the protection deity of Yoritomo. In 1199, however, after Yoritomo died and was buried at this place, it was renamed in due course the Hokkedo. In the battle of Miura in 1247, the Hokkedo became the suicide ground for more than 500 people belonging to the Miura family, who had served the place since its foundation.

The hall belonging to the Hokkedo was later moved to the foot of the mountain, and the Shirahatasha stands in this location today. A memorial pagoda (kuyoto), which was built on this ruin, later became the burial tower of Yoritomo Minamotono and still is today. It is also said that the current burial tower might be renovated one day.

The Hokkedo is a memorial to Yoritomo, who is responsible for constituting the foundations of the samurai government of Japan.
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