Hadaka Kasedori is the traditional New Year’s event handed down in the Kirigome area in Kami Town, Miyagi Prefecture. It is held on the night of January 15 every year in hope of fire prevention and getting rid of bad luck. It is prefecturally designated as an intangible folk cultural property.
This is a very unique festival, in which half-naked men with “Hebiso (soot from the Japanese traditional kitchen range)” on the faces visit each of the houses in the village. They are treated with sake and meals, while applying Hebiso on the faces of the family members.
This custom is said to be a kind of rite of passage in that boys over 15 years old undergo physical hardship. New participants, newly married men and men with unlucky ages must wear straw hats and Shimenawa (sacred rice-straw ropes) over their loincloths; and then they stand in front of each houses and are poured cold water all over their bodies.
Originally Japan had many words to describe the moon according to its changing shape through waxing and waning. They are all elegantly named for the different phases: Shin-getsu (new moon), San-getsu (very fine moon of 2nd day), Mika-zuki (crescent, 3rd day ), Jougen no tsuki (bow shape moon of 7th day), Komochi-zuki (near full moon of 14th day), Tachimachi-zuki ( standing and waiting for the moon to appear, 17th day), Nemachi-zuki (Laying down and waiting for the moon to appear, 19th day), Ariake-zuki (morning moon, 26th day or general name after 16th) and so on.
The Moon Plate created by Mutsuko Shibata is a simple but imposing plate with a beautiful gold drizzled pattern. It has strength in its stillness. With a variety of food and seasonal ingredients available, you can enjoy the rich compliment of the two faces of the plate and food, a luxury in daily life.
You can arrange food to look like a hazy moon, or see a beam from the moon light in the golden drops. Besides being perfect to serve guests, the plate is also a good everyday item.
Large W 27 cm x D 27 cmx H 2.5 cm
Small W 15 cm x D 15 cm x H 2 cm
A mizuya (literally “water room”) is the preparation area in a Chashitsu (Japanese tea house) or tea room used for tea ceremony. As its name suggests, a mizuya provides a location for performing tasks involving water, such as washing the utensils and boiling extra water for replenishing the pot in the tea room. In most cases, a mizuya is located in the adjacent space of the tea room so that the task performance will not be seen from the guest areas. If there is no such space outside the tea room, the mizuya space is partitioned by a folding screen.
The dimentions of a mizuya depends on those of the guest areas or tea ceremony schools. A typical mizuya is equipped with a traditional sink, several wooden shelves for storing tea supplies, and a furnace (large, long or round).
Since the water temperature is decisive of the tea ceremony, tasks performed in the mizuya are very important. A mizuya is the special space where a tea practitioner concentrates his/her attention on the tasks to offer hospitality to the guests. The famous tea master, Sen no Rikyu, must have worked sincerely in the mizuya with the spirit of “Ichigo Ichie” meaning every single encounter never repeats in a life time.
Namahage is a folklore ritual held in the vicinity of Oga City, Akita Prefecture and takes place on New Years Eve every year.
Namahage appears wearing a demon mask, straw rain-cape, straw boots and holding a broad-bladed kitchen knife, wooden bucket and goheibo, a wooden stick to ward off evil spirits.
Namahage visits homes one at a time and asks “Are there any children crying? Is there a lazy wife here?” looking for lazy people in the houses. The head of a household treats the demon with the most hospitality. After being entertained, the demon heads to the next house.
The word, Namahage, is said to come from the way lazy people were punished by scraping off (hagasu) a minor burn (namomi) which is caused by lazing around the fire at home while others work outside in the harsh winter weather.
The Northeastern area of Japan has many different versions of the Namahage ritual and legends.
This folklore ritual, which has been passed down since ancient times, is to punish lazy people as well as to pray for good health and happiness for children.
Okayama Korakuen is one of Japan's three major gardens, as well as a National Special Place of Scenic Beauty. It is located in Okayama city, Okayama prefecture.
The 2nd Okayama domain head, Ikeda Tsunamasa, ordered his chief retainer, Tsuda Nagatada, to build the garden. The garden has not changed much since that time.
The center of the garden is Enyo-tei, where the domain head entertained guests. Okayama Castle and the circumjacent mountains form a backdrop to the garden scenery. Grass, ponds, miniature hills and trees are disposed around the vast grounds which are some 130,000m2 in area.
As you walk along the garden paths, the scenery unfolds before you just like a picture scroll.
Twun-Dar-Bun are appetizer vessels, exclusive to Okinawa, and are magnificent examples of Ryukyu lacquerware.
Twun-dar-bun was originally a kind of bowl introduced from China and means in Chinese: 'bowl with meals to welcome the guest'. In Ryukyu, this bowl form became decorated using the techniques of Ryukyu lacquerware that were typically Okinawan.
Apart from being such gorgeous vessels, the food usually presented in these containers was as sumptuous and expensive as the container itself. Such containers were often used on important occasions such as weddings and 60th-birthday celebrations. They were used on New Year holidays, too.
It seems that the term Twun-Dar-Bun originally referred to the container itself. But now refers to the container as well as the meal inside.
Today, the classic octagonal Twun-Dar-Bun bowl is representative of Ryukyu cuisine, and recalls the gracious past of the Ryukyu Kingdom.
Matsubara Shrine is located in Amagasaki City, Hyogo Pref. It is said that when Emperor Sutoku was exiled to Sanuki Province (the present Kagawa Pref.) after he failed to put down the Hogen Rebellion, he dropped in at this place to take shelter from a heavy rainstorm. The villagers warmly entertained the Emperor with Konoshiro gizzard shad, clams, oysters, Kalimeris yomena, burdocks, and baked rice. After the emperor’s death, the ceremony in memory of the emperor has been held until the present time. The same fishes and vegetables as were served to the emperor are dedicated to the deities in the ceremony called “Dangonobou” held annually on March 31. In the precinct of the shrine is the tree planted by Emperor Showa himself as a token of the fiftieth year of his reign.
Powdered green tea was introduced from China in the Heian period (794 to 1192). It gradually became popular as a luxury item. In the meantime, as opposed to the enjoyment of tea at a lively banquet, Sado (way of tea) or Wabi-cha appeared. In Sado, unsophisticated ceramics are used and it puts emphasis on spirituality. Sen no Rikyu accomplished Sado, avoiding the play elements, putting an emphasis on the spiritual interaction between people and having a corresponding intensity. What Rikyu pursued was the mind that tries to obtain aesthetics and contentment. As is said that every aspect of Japan’s art craft is included in Sado, Sado is the integrated art that covers tea ceremony utensils, architecture of a tea house, Haikai (poems) and so on. Through its aesthetic concepts of motenashi (hospitality) and shiturai (manners concerning rooms), “kanjaku (a serene desolation)” and simple but refined state of mind, Sado has an incalculable influence on Japanese spiritual culture.