Saicho was a Japanese Buddhist monk of the early Heian period (794-1192) and the founder of the Tendai sect of Japanese Buddhism. Saicho was born in Omi province in 767. Being the descendant of Chinese immigrant family, Saicho’s worldly name was Mitsunoobito Hirono. He entered the priesthood at Kokubunji Temple in Omi province when he was 14 and was given the name, Saicho.
At the age of 19, he was ordained at Todaiji Temple in Nara, but he was disenchanted with the worldliness of the Nara priesthood. In 788, he founded a small temple, Ichijo Shikanin (present Enryakuji Temple) on Mt. Hiei, where he trained himself for 12 years until he attained enlightenment. This 12 years of seclusion at Mt. Hiei has become a system to be retained in positions in the monastery up to the present time.
In 804, Saicho was sent to china, where he mastered the four teachings of En (perfect teaching), Mitsu (esotericism), Kai (precepts) and Zen (meditation). After returning to Japan, he founded the Tendai sect of Japan with the backing of Emperor Kanmu.
His writings include “the Sange Gakusho Shiki (Rules for Tendai students),” “the Kenkairon (Treatise elucidating the precepts)” and “the Naisho Buppo Kechimyakufu.” He died at Chudoin Temple in Mt. Hiei in 822. 44 years after his death, he was awarded the posthumous title of Dengyo Daishi.
Fukue Harbor Festival is held on September 30 and October 1 every year on Fukue Island, the largest land mass in the Goto Archipelago in Nagasaki Prefecture. The festival features a variety of events such as the Goto Haiya Soran Dance parade of the citizens, the Enjo-Daiko drum performance and the fireworks display. The highlight is the Goto Nebuta Parade, in which 3,000 citizens and more than ten Nebuta lantern floats participate to attract the spectators along the streets.
The Nebuta Festival on Fukue Island was introduced from Aomori Prefecture in 1977. Since then, a variety of lantern floats such as “The Boat of the Envoys to Tang China” and “Japanese Pirates’ Ship” have been made to join the parade. These themes are peculiar to the Goto Archipelago, where international exchange with China had been promoted since the 16th century. The Nebuta Parade starts at 7:00 PM with the powerful call of “Rasse! Rasse! Rasse-ra!” The group of people called “Haneto” jump and dance around each float.
Kukai (774-835) was a Japanese monk, the founder of the Shingon sect of Buddhism in Japan. Kūkai is also famous as a calligrapher, and together with the Emperor Saga and the courtier Tachibana no Hayanari, he is admired as the “Three Great Brushes” (or sanpitsu).
Kūkai was born in 774 in the province of Sanuki on Shikoku island in the present day town of Zentsūji. He studied Confucianism at the government university in Nara, where he became disillusioned with his studies because he thought that Confucianism could not resolve social contradictions. He developed a strong interest in Buddhist studies and named himself Kukai.
In 804, he set sail for China as a menmer of the government sponsored mission, in which Saichō, the founder of the Tendai school of Buddhism, was also included.
After studying Buddhism techings and Chinese cultures, he finally met Master Huiguo (Jap. Keika), the man who would initiate him into the esoteric Buddhism tradition at Changan's Qinglong Monastery in 805. In a few short months he received the final initiation, and become a master of the esoteric lineage.
Kūkai arrived back in Japan in 806 and reside in the Takaosanji (later Jingoji) Temple in the suburbs of Kyoto. There he established his own sect of Buddhism, the Shingon sect. At the same time, he used his knowledge in civil engineering that he had learned in China and directed civil works in many places. He also exercised his talents in various fields such as caligraphy, painting and sculpture.
When the emperor granted Mt. Koya to Kūkai, he planned to build the monastic retreat centre. However, before seeing the completion of his ideal religious institution, he died in Mt. Koya on March 21st, 835.
In 857, Kūkai was awarded the posthumous title of “Daishojo (the Great Priest) by Emperor Buntoku in 857, and “Kobo Daishi” by Emperor Daigo in 921. Kūkai was the great saint, who contributed greatly to the development of Japanese Buddhism after the Heian period (794-1192), and a lot of folklore and legends pertaining to Kūkai still exist in every part of the country.
The first article of manufacture made of wood called karaki (wood of Tang) was brought to Japan by the envoys to Tang China during Nara period. Several karaki items of those days are now housed in Shoso-in Treasure House in Nara. Later on Japanese craftsmen also began to manufacture karaki woodcraft, which finally bore fruit in superior skills seen in a current Osaka karaki joinery.The current formation of production areas was put into place as early as mid-Edo Period, when the wealthy merchant class emerged in Kyoto and Osakaand increasing number of people began to use karaki joinery as their utensils or furnishings for tea ceremony or incense burning.
Osaka karakijoinery also became established during this period. According to a record in Osaka pharmaceutical industry, most of karaki woods brought to Japan via Nagasaki were distributed through a whole saler of medicines in Osaka. A lot of craftsmen specialized in making karaki articles appeared, and their products have begun to circulate to the public widely.The main articles of Osaka karaki joinery are cabinets, tea shelves andtables including low tables and flower stands, all of which are made of karaki such as rosewood or ebonywood. Zataku (low dining table), which first appeared in Meiji Period, is one of the major products in the current karaki joinery.