This character means the season called autumn. The same in antiquity as now, its characteristic, the harvest is which is reflected in the grain-classifier. The part of the character apart from the left part shows the burning of harmful insects.
In the original character form, the fire is positioned below. It is the most effective position for exposing the larvae or insect’s eggs to fire. The original character form can be seen for the first time in the tortoise plastron and bone characters. The proper original character has the 灬 four dots fire element below the 龜 ‘insect’ of 龝 but has now come to be called ‘variant character’ (with a nuance of abnormality). Nevertheless, it shows the original meaning of the character more clearly. From the present Common Use Kanji 秋 the mutual relation of the character elements cannot be correctly understood. It has become an abbreviation which completely excludes the fire’s role of burning harmful insects. In the original character the four dots fire element is appropriately positioned below the character element representing the insect. Agriculture had already considerably developed in the Yīn (Shāng) period, and ashes and excrements were already used as manure. Rice stem borers and locusts could not be ignored. As grown insects easily flee, the fire most probably was rather directed at the larvae adhering to the rice plants or crops. The original character form also conveys a certain symbolic meaning as, there seems to have been a profound relationship to a seasonal ritual.
Choshikei Gorge extends along the upstream of the Denpo River running through Shodoshima Island. Shodoshima Skyline (Prefectural Road 27) connects it with Kankakei Gorge, which is counted as one of Japan’s Three Fine Gorges. Shodoshima Island is famous for wild monkeys, and Choshikei Gorge is also a home to hundreds of monkeys. You could visit Choshikei Monkey Park at the foot of Mt. Sentakubo, where the mode of life of wild monkeys can be observed nearby. Some of them are friendly to human beings because of the food handouts.
Following the trail up the mountain, you will pass by Onote-hime Shrine, a tiny shrine, which enshrines Princess Onote, the founder of Shodoshima Island. At the top of the mountain is the observatory, where you can have a calm and peaceful moment, viewing the panoramic landscape of the Seto Inland Sea.
In fall, trees with crimson foliage beautifully add colors to the clear stream of the gorge.
Akiu Shrine in Akiu-cho, Taihaku-ku, Sendai City, Miyagi Prefecture, is a historic shrine founded in 1513. It is said that in this year Akiu Morifusa, the 15th head of the Akiu clan, transferred the deity of Suwa Shrine in Shinano province (present-day Nagano Prefecture) and founded Suwa Shrine to pray for his victory in the battle with the Nagai clan in Natori. It is said that he decided on this place because it was where Kumano Shrine founded by Sakanoue Tamuramaro used to have been located.
Being called “Osuwa-sama,” the shrine had been faithfully worshipped by local people since then as the guardian god of nearby five villages. In 1909, all the minor shrines in the Akiu area were integrated into this shrine and it was renamed Akiu Shrine.
Surrounded with old trees including the gingko tree, which is designated as a protected tree of the city, and weeping cherry trees, the precinct is filled with tranquil atmosphere. However, it is bustled with visitors on the days of Akiu Grand Festival held in September.
“Kimigara slippers” are the traditional handicraft in the Towada area (Aomori Prefecture), which is known for large amounts of corn production. “Kimi-gara” refers to the husks (kara) of corn (kimi) in the Tohoku dialect. The making of the corn husk slippers in this area dates back to 1947, when farmers found the way to utilize the husks of corn, which had been discarded as wastes. They started to make slippers during agricultural off-season. Later, efforts were made to promote its production and Towada Productive Cooperation of Corn Husk Slippers was established in 1963.
In fall, the husks are removed from the ears of corn one by one and dried in the sun. They are woven into slippers during the agricultural off-season in winter. All processes are done by hand and the materials are all natural. The corn husk slippers are in good repute because they are sturdy, light, and resistant to humidity. Also husks can be dyed in various colors to create a multitude of designs.
Morioka Autumn Festival serves as the annual festival of Morioka Hachimangu Shrine in Morioka City, Iwate Prefecture. It is held for 3 days from September 14 to 16 every year, and the festival eve events are performed on the 13th.
Morioka Hachimangu was founded about 800 years ago by the Nanbu clan as the guardian god of their castle town of Morioka. The festival dates back to 1709, when a parade of floats was performed to celebrate the completion of all the 23 sub-towns of the castle town. It is said that the parade was composed of 23 floats made by each town.
The float parade has been performed since then and it is now designated as a city’s intangible cultural property. In the Hachiman-kudari parade, all the floats start parading from Hachiman Shrine in the afternoon and go through the town. And in the Dashi-Daiemaki parade in the evening, the gorgeously lit up floats parade through the town again. Also, traditional Yabusame (horseback archery) is held in the shrine precinct.
The front approach of the shrine is lined with night stalls including “yakisoba (Japanese fried noodles),” which is a must for a Japanese “omatsuri.” Listening to Nanbu’s distinctive “Ondo” music played by children on the floats and eating yakisoba; it’s a fantastic way to spend your holiday.
Kumano Shrine is located in Takadate, Natori City, Miyagi Prefecture. The enshrined deities are Hayatamao no Okami, Izanagi no Okami and Kotosakao no Okami.
Natori is the center of Kumano Worship in the Tohoku region during the Middle Ages. Kumano Shrine in Natori was one of Natori Kumano Sanzan constituted of Hongu, Shingu and Nachi Shrines, which were founded by transferring Kumano Sansho Gongen (the great deities of Kumano in present Wakayama Prefecture) in 1123.
The Honden (main hall) building composed of three sections is a prefecturally designated cultural property as the oldest existing building in Kumano-Gongen-zukuri style. By the pond in the precinct is a kagura hall, a part of which protrudes over the pond. Kumanodo Kagura, and Kumano Bugaku (a court dance) have been handed down at this shrine and both are prefecturally designated intangible folk cultural properties. The kagura is dedicated in spring and fall and the bugaku is dedicated only in spring.
Men Buryu is a traditional mask dance handed down in the southwestern part of Saga Prefecture including Kashima City. Although the styles of dances differ from town to town, they are mostly performed at autumn festivals in each area. It is said that the word “Buryu” derives from “Furyu School,” a school of lion dance handed down since the ancient times.
Men Buryu dance is a kind of ritual performing art that is dedicated to pray for abundant harvest and rainfall. Wearing Furyumen, a mask looking like a demon, over the face, an indigo happi-coat with bold patterns and white momohiki-pants and dangling a small drum from the neck, the dancers dance fiercely to the sounds of Japanese flutes, drums, and gongs.
According to one theory, the dance originates in an old story that during the Warring States period (1493-1573), the lord of this area made his soldiers wear masks of a demon or a Chinese lion and Shaguma (a wig of long horse hair usually made of wool or hemp) on the head when they went to war. Then the soldiers made a night attack on the enemy while beating drums and gongs and gained a victory.
However, another theory states that Furyumen mask was contrived to get rid of the evil spirit that damaged the crops and to pray for rich harvest. To be sure, their brave dances are powerful enough to get rid of the evil spirit.
The annual festival held at Fujisaki Hachimangu Shrine in Kumamoto City is one of the largest festivals in Kumamoto Prefecture. As the shrine of war gods, it was worshipped by warriors since its foundation in 935.
The festival is held for 5 days from the 2nd Thursday in September every year. It is said that the festival originates in a Buddhist ritual of Hojoe, a ceremony in which captive fish and birds are set free to gain religious merit. The climax is the Zuibyo (Retinue Soldiers) Parade held on the last day. Zuibyo Parade originates in the parade of soldiers when Kato Kiyomasa paid a visit to this shrine to attend the rituals of the annual festival that he resumed.
Together with the mikoshi (a portable shrine) parade, more than 60 groups of local people dressed in festival cloths march and chant valiantly “Dokai! Dokai!” while following their elaborately decorated robust horses through the streets of the city.