NIPPON Kichi - 日本吉

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【蔑】 Betsu, Naigashiro to despise, to neglect

Jp En

When it comes to explaining 蔑 as used in the compound 蔑視 ‘besshi: contempt,’ one has to go back to the curse rituals and ways of war of the Yīn (Shāng) dynasty.
Usually, the grass-classifier above indicates a plant. Here, however, it has to be seen as a unit formed together with 目 ‘eye’ in horizontal position. This unit means a female shaman of another people. As in the above character explanation of 寛 ‘kan,’ it shows the head of a female shaman with curse decoration above the eyes or eyebrows. The lower part 戌 means a weapon (halbard). The character as a whole shows the head of a hostile female shaman cut off with a halberd.
Pioneer forces formed by female shamans usually had the duty of spiritually intimidating the opponents.
The Japanese language has the reading 蔑ろ ‘naigashiro (ni suru: to despise, to neglect),’ which originates on the background of killing the shaman to destroy her curse power.
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【徳(德)】 Toku, Tadasu Virtue

Jp En

The meaning originally shown by the character 德 originally is not the ethical notion of virtue attributed to it in later times. For its understanding one has to go back to the world of early animism and curse magic.
The character 行 shows a crossroad and 彳. The classifier of 徳 is its left half and means a junction. As place where a lot of people pass, it is an important spiritual place, too. Naturally, accidents occur more frequently there, which is why it becomes an object for the exorcism of evil spirits.
As in the case of 蔑 or 省, the 目 (including the strokes above) which is seen in horizontal position in the right upper part of the character shows curse decoration. 省 means to show military power towards a region or country. Its upper part and the upper right part of 徳 has the common origin of patrolling with eyes that have curse power. What concerns the character 徳, from containing the element 彳 the objects of patrol conducted by eyes with curse decoration are the evil spirits at crossroads and junctions; it shows them being exorcised and ‘tadasu: put right’ again.
Previous character forms are often close to that of antiquity. Here, 徳, the form of the Common Use Characters since 1948 has one stroke less than its previous form 德 and is a form close to that of the bronze inscriptions.
Later, 心 was added to the character form for the first time on the bronze vessel 大盂鼎 ‘Dà Yú Dĭng: Big Tripod (made by) Yú’ in a long inscription amounting to 290 characters from the early period of the Western Zhōu dynasty, directly after the Yīn (Shāng)-Zhōu revolution. From this time on, the meaning of 徳 changed from referring to the curse power of the eyes toward the mental inner virtue as existing in the mind.
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和太鼓 Wadaiko Wa-daiko (Japanese Taiko Drum)

Jp En

Wa-daiko are percussion instruments and a general term used for Japanese stick drums.
They are made from the trunk of a tree such as Keyaki wood which is hollowed out and sealed on both ends of the drum body with animal skin, mostly from cows.  The  player beats the skin and it vibrates to make sound.
There is another traditional percussion instrument called tsuzumi which has the same construction as wa-taiko but a smaller size.  Tzuzumi are played with the hand, as opposed to the taiko drum which is struck with a drumstick or other instrument.
The history of the taiko drum goes back to ancient times -  as early as the Joumon period (BC10,000 – BC300) in which a musical instrument with a similar structure is said to have already existed.
In the Middle Ages, when Dengaku - dance performance to celebrate the harvest, was developed, Ohayushi-daiko, smaller stick drums, became popular. In the Sengoku period, taiko drums were used for military purposes (Jin-daiko) and, in the Edo period, they were used inside the Edo Castle to announce the time.  Over the ages, taiko drums were used for many occasions and purposes and they have become rooted in people’s everyday life.
The fact that taiko drums have been used as ceremonial tools to communicate with  God in temples and shrines has made them very special instruments that resonate deeply in the Japanese people’s hearts.
In the Showa period, contemporary ensemble style drumming called Kumi-daiko became popular.  It is made up of various different kinds of taiko drums, and the unique sound has been enchanting people around the world ever since.
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【寛】 Kan Tolerance, Leniency

Jp En

This character is a so-called compound ideograph. What regards the upper part 宀 (ukanmuri: roof classifier) which can be seen also in a lot of other characters, it does not simply show a roof, but is the roof of a mausoleum. This character points at the basis of Asian religious culture, the custom of memorial service for the ancestors and ancestor worship. One key to the long period of peace that can be seen in Asian history thus is included in this Kanji. By thinking about the favors received from the ancestors, it is possible to endure the hardships of human life and one becomes wide-hearted and more broad-minded. When recalling one’s ancestors with their different ways of thinking and life philosophy, one becomes more tolerant regarding people leading diametric opposite lives and holding completely different opinions in the present, and the essence of human life shows.
The lower part is a priestess or shrine maiden engaged in a ritual in the mausoleum. Shintō, the indigenous religion of Japan also often has rituals with shrine maidens inspired when in religious frenzy. In such a state, the priestess gets relaxed and conveys a divine message. The appearance of the priestess or shrine maiden at this time stresses her eyes with what in the character form of the Common Use Kanji looks like a grass-classifier but actually is a curse decoration. Both, the minds and hearts of the family taking part in the ritual as well as the relaxed conduct of the priestess or shrine maiden contribute to the meaning of the character.
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沼津 日枝神社 Numazu Hie-jinja Hie Shrine in Numazu

Jp En

Hie Shrine in Numazu City, Shizuoka Prefecture, had been the head guardian shrine of 22 villages in the area before the Meiji period (1868-1912). The enshrined deities are Ooyamakui no Kami The guardian god of Mt. Hiei), Oomunachi no Kami and Ootoshigami. It is said that the shrine was founded by Fujiwara no Moromichi’s mother in 1100 in the clan’s manor, which was called “Ooka-sho” at that time.

Fujiwara no Moromichi was a head of the Fujiwara clan and served as Kampaku and Udaijin. Having come into colligion with the Tendai monks in Mt. Hiei, he ordered to attack them in 1095. As some monks were wounded in the battle and this aroused anger of the monks, he was placed a curse and died young in 1099. Thus his mother transferred the three dieties of Hiyoshi Taisha Shrine in Mt. Hiei to appease the anger of the deities of Mt. Hiei.

Traditionally, the school of Shinto which believes in the guardian deity of Mt. Hiei is called the Sanno (the King of Mountain) Shinto; hereby this shrine is also called “Sanno-sha”. The annual festival held for two days from September 23 every year is popularly called “Sanno-san” by the local people and enjoyed as the representative event of the city that tells of the coming of autumn.

The shrine is also famous for the collection of important old documents including Sanno Reikenki in Shihon-Chakushoku style (paper-based colored), which is a nationally designated Important Cultural Property. In the precinct is a stone monument inscribed with a poem by Matsuo Basho.
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役小角 En-no-ozunu En no Ozunu

Jp En

En no Ozunu is the founder of Shugendou which teaches how to gain mystic powers through ascetic practices in the mountains and, by unifying with nature, to reach Sokushin Joubutsu, attaining enlightenment in one’s present form. As the initiator who first organized the Japanese spiritual doctrine, En no Ozunu has stood out with his enormous influence that still continues today.    
He was born in 634 at the foot of Katsuragi Mountain in present day Gose City, Nara Prefecture. He possessed unique talents since childhood teaching himself to carve Buddha statues and learning how to write Sanskrit characters. At the age of seventeen, he left his family home and began spiritual practice in Katsuragi Mountain.
Legend says he spent time with a sennin, a legendary immortal hermit, even chastising Buddha and deities, and became a man of strength who had a demon as his follower. When his supernatural powers became known to the Imperial Court, the Emperor, frightened by his power, ordered him exiled to Izu Ooshima Island.
In his late life, he traveled throughout Japan and visited a number of sacred mountains. Reportedly most of mountains considered sacred mountains today were founded by him. At the age of sixty seven, he passed away while smiling, surrounded by many disciples in Tenjyouga-dake Mountain.
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熊野堂舞楽 Kumano-dou-bugaku Kumanodo Bugaku

Jp En

Kumanodo Bugaku is a folk performing art performed at the annual spring festival of Kumano Shrine in Takadate Kumanodo, Natori city, Yamagata Prefecture. Bugaku is a repertoire of dances of the Japanese Imperial court, derived from traditional dance forms imported from China, Korea, and India.

It is said that the Bugaku dance was introduced to the Kumanodo area by the Hayashi family in Risshakuji Temple in Yamadera, Yamagata City, Yamagata Prefecture, but there is no precise records concerning its origin. The Hayashi family was the hereditary musician family serving the Japanese Imperial Court. As the Hayashi family moved to present Yamagata Prefecture before Bugaku was japanized in the mid-Heian period, the old dancing style of the imported dance has been precisely handed down in the Kumanodo Bugaku dance. It is designated as a prefecture’s folk cultural property.

In the Kumanodo Bugaku dance, neither dialog nor words are employed in the dances and songs. It is a kind of pantomime in dedication to the god. Although it has an origin in the Shinto dance, it also has several features of the dances performed by Shugendo practitioners.

The 3.6 m square temporary stage is built over the pond in the precinct. In back of the stage, the ensemble composed of one drum, one pair of large clappers and one Japanese flute play the music.
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国見ケ丘 Kunimi-ga-oka Kunimigaoka Hill

Jp En

Kunimigaoka located in Takachiho Town, Miyazaki Prefecture, is a hill, the summit of which is at 513 meters above sea level. It commands a panoramic view of Mt. Sobo in the north, Mt. Amanokaguyama, Takamagahara, Mt. Shikojimine and Takachiho Basin in the east, Mt. Aso in the west and the Gokase River below.

The name of the hill derives from a mythology. When Tateiwatatsu no Mikoto, a grandson of Emperor Jinmu, pacified Kyushu, he stood at the top of this hill at the sunrise and the sunset and performed the Kunimi ritual, which is an early Japanese ritual of “gazing down upon the land” performed by emperors or chieftains to pray for a rich harvest in autumn.

On cold autumn mornings from late October to early November, the villages in the basin below are folded in dense fog and the dramatic “cloud ocean” can be seen.
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