NIPPON Kichi - 日本吉

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どんと祭裸参り Donto-sai-hadaka-mairi Naked Parade of Donto Festival

Jp En

The Naked Parade of Donto Festival is an event held in various shrines in Miyagi Prefecture.

The Donto Festival is held in the lunar new year, around January 14th, at five shrines: Tenjin Shrine, Shinmei Shrine, Hachiman Shrine, Konpira Shrine, and Aosa Shrine.

During the festival, pine decorations, 'shimenawa' ropes for the New Year, and 'koshinpus' are dedicated to the shrine then burnt in holy fire. These dedications are prayers for prosperity and good health.

In the Naked Parade, 100 young people wearing white 'sarashi' loincloths and 'suteteko' long drawers parade through the town holding 'tori-oi' staffs and calling 'Ya, hoi hoi hoi' on their way to the shrine.

The origins of this Naked Parade are uncertain, but records from 250 years ago mention this event. It is believed that sake brewers started this parade as a prayer for safe brewing and for success in brewing high-quality sake.

The Donto Naked festival is a Shinto ritual carried out in a traditional manner by sake brewers.
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讃州井筒屋敷 Sansyuu-izutsu-yashiki The Sanshuu-Izutsu Estate

Jp En

The Sanshuu-Izutsu-Yashiki is an estate found in Hikita, Higashikagawa-shi, Kagawa Prefecture. The building was a famous old izutsuya store, which brewed soy sauce and sake.
   The history of this estate dates back to 1692, when the reputation of the izutsuya stores, which started the soy sauce business, spread as far as the Kanto region. In 1913, the Sanshuu-Izutsuya started to brew sake, and by 1920, was making shouchu (another kind of liquor) as well as mirin (a kind of condiment used in cooking). At their most productive, the Izutsuya was considered the best merchant family in all of Hikita.
   Despite the reputation and respect the Izutsuya had gained up until 1989, by 1997, the old Izutsu-yashiki had become vacant. The existence of this historic example of old architecture was in danger, but, thanks to petitioning by local residents, the house was acquired by the town of Hikita. It was renovated and reopened as the Sanshuu-Izutsu-Yashiki.
   Currently, the house is at the center of a resort area, and has become an important site revealing something of the history of soy sauce- and sake-making in Japan.
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引田の町並み Hikita-no-machinami The Scenery of the Town of Hikita

Jp En

The region around Hikita, Higashikagawa, Kagawa Prefecture, formerly a castle town, was where Hikita castle once stood.
   Hikita Castle was built by Ikoma Chikamasa, a general who played an active part during the Azuchi-Momoyama period. Today, only the slight remains of the castle walls are evident at the site.
   Hikita is known for its manufacturing of soy sauce. The Sano Family's Izutsuya store, the Okada Family's Kamebishiya store and the Kusaka Family's Daishoya store were run by three successful and wealthy merchant families who were called the Hikita Gosanke (Hikita's big three merchants). The estates of these three merchants and private houses from the Edo period still remain. Many kinds of stores can be seen within the renovated kyuu-Izutsu-yashiki. A Kamebishiya, situated to the north of the Izutsu-yashiki, stands out from the rest of the buildings with its tiled roof and red walls. By walking to the south of the town, the majestic gate to the estate of the Hikita family can be seen, and in front of that, is the old Hikita post office. Compared to the long row houses seen in the town, the post office is built in a Taisho modern style, with its distinct octagonal windows positioned in an orderly line.
   The scenery and the distinct atmosphere created by the buildings of Hikita help communicate the history of the town without leaving anything behind.
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