NIPPON Kichi - 日本吉

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2008/3/17


【気】 Ki Energy, Spirit, Atmosphere

Jp En

Its original character is 气. Again, the original character of 气 is 乞, the form of moving clouds. 気 can be thought of as the basic unit of energy, be it air, atmosphere, weather, vapor, or breathing.
In ‘Explanation of Common Use Kanji,’ the last character dictionary of Dr. Shirakawa, for the first time in his dictionaries, we find his explanation commenting on the vital role of 米 ‘rice’ nurturing 気 spirit or energy. By the way, also Jacob Chang-Ui Kim from Korea gave a similar view in his English explanation of Kanji.
Food is what supplies living beings with energy. Without eating, one cannot live and there is no vitality. From ancient times on, rice is the basic food and basis of energy in East Asia.
The upper part of 気 can also be thought of as the rising steam from rice boiling, and it therefore may even be regarded as a pictograph. In Japanese, 気 came to be used in a lot of expressions describing human feelings and states of mind. In East Asia as a whole, it has become the basis of martial arts culture built on the importance of breathing techniques, as Chinese shadow boxing and Aikidō.
In ancient Greek philosophy, with ‘pneuma,’ there is a very similar notion. The Stoa, a classic school of thought that commends pantheism and a life style following the laws of nature, taught that ‘pneuma,’ the most fine matter like air, is the carrier of ‘logos,’ or world reason, extant everywhere in the universe. In this sense, 気 is (was) a common way of thinking in East and West.
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2007/10/9


井川メンパ Igawa-menpa Ikawa Menpa

Jp En

A “menpa” made in Ikawa, Shizuoka City, Shizuoka Prefecture, is a kind of lunchbox used by mountain workers in the old times. It still attracts a lot of hikers and people working outdoors for its beautiful gloss of natural lacquer and excellent rice preserving feature.

It is said that menpa was first made in this area in the Kamakura period (1192-1333). In the Muromachi period (1336-1573), the village of Ikawa was flourished with gold mining, for which dippers and tubs were in request and skills in bentwood work developed. Later, farmers started to make menpa as a side job.

Made of Japanese cypress wood coated with natural lacquer, Ikawa menpa keeps food warm in winter and prevents it from going bad in summer. If you eat rice from Ikawa menpa, you can enjoy a heartwarming taste that can’t be gotten from an ordinary modern lunchbox.
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2007/8/6


香嵐渓 Kouran-kei Korankei Gorge

Jp En

Korankei Gorge is a scenic spot in Asuke Town in Toyota City, Aichi Prefecture. It is said that the gorge was first developed in 1634, when the priest Sanei of Kojakuji Temple in Asuke Village planted Japanese maple trees along the front approach of the temple from the Tomoe River, modeling after Arashiyama in Kyoto.

The gorge was named “Korankei” in 1930 by combining “Ko” form Kojakuji Temple, the word “Ran,” which means “moist mountain air,” and “Kei” meaning “a gorge.”

The 1.2 km beautiful gorge along the Tomoe River makes a fine contrast with Mt. Iimoriyama, which looks like rice filled in a rice bowl. The gorge is a famous viewing spot of autumn leaves. 4,000 Japanese maple trees turn red and yellow in fall and create an exquisite landscape. The gorge is also a treasure trove of wild plants. Here you can feel the breaths of nature with all your senses.
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