NIPPON Kichi - 日本吉

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2007/11/16


【秋・龝】 Shuu Autumn

Jp En

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.
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2007/6/21


八月 葉月 Hachigatsu Hazuki August,Hazuki

Jp En

Hazuki is a Japanese traditional name for August on the old calendar. Hazuki (葉月) literally means “a leaf month.”

There are several theories concerning its origin. One theory states that as it falls on September to October on the Gregorian calendar, it is the month of falling leaves. Another states that it is a pun for “Inagarizuki,” which means the month when ears of rice plants swell, and still another staes that it is a pun for “Harizuki.” August on the lunar calendar is also called “Tsukimi-zuki (a moon-viewing month),” for it is the month when Chushu no meigetsu (a beautifu mid-autumn moon) can be viewed.
In the Tohoku region, a large and famous annual festivals such as Aomori Nebuta Festival (Aug. 2nd-7th), Akita Kanto Festival (Aug. 4th-8th), and Sendai Tanabata Festival are held, and people enjoy short summer
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夏至 Geshi Geshi (Summer Solstice)

Jp En

A year was divided into 24 solar terms on the traditional Japanese calendar. Geshi (夏至) literally meannig “to reach summer” is the 10th solar term. It usually begins around June 21st, the longest day of the year when the Sun is farthest north in the northern hemisphere and Sun gets the highest meridian altitude. As the axis of the Earth declines 23.5 degrees towards or away from the Sun ecliptic, the meridian altitude of the Sun differs from season to season. It is this declination that creates seasonal changes on the Earth.

The summer solstice marks the first day of the summer. Different from the winter solstice, there are relatively few social activities held in Japan. Farmers usually start rice planting on the day of Han-geshi, the 11th day from the summer solstice. In the Kansai region, people eat octopus on this day in hope that the roots of rice plants will grow steadily like octopus legs. In Sanuki area in Kagawa Prefecture, July 2nd is Day of Sanuki-udon Noodle, because farmers usually entertain assistant workers with Sanuki-udon noodles after rice planting.
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2007/6/11


九月 長月 Kugatsu Nagatsuki September, Nagatsuki

Jp En

Nagatsuki is a Japanese traditional name for September on the old calendar. The word is however used for September on the new calendar today. It falls on the period from October through November on the new calendar.

There are a lot of theories as to its origin. Some of them state that it is a shortened form of Yonaga-tsuki (a long night month), a pun for Nagame-tsuki (a long rain month) or a pun for Nagori no tsuki, which means a month when a remnant of the full moon can be seen. Still another states that as it is the month for rice harvest and the 長 character has the meaning of swelling, people named the month to cerebrate the swollen ears of rice plants. September on the old calendar is also called Nezametsuki, which means a month of waking up in the morning.

September 1st is the National Disaster Prevention Day, when disaster-preparedness drills are conducted all over the country. The day was established to mark Great Kanto Earthquake, which attacked Japan on this day in 1923. The national holidays in September are Aged People’s Day on the 3rd Monday and Autumnal Equinox Day on the 23rd.
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2007/4/19


大歳御祖神社 Ootoshi-mioya-jinjya Otoshimioya Shrine

Jp En

Shizuoka Sengen Shrine, or popularly called "Osengen-sama”in Aoi-ku, Shizuoka City, Shizuoka Pref. is a generic name for three shrines; Otoshimioya Shrine, Kanbe Shrine and Asama Shrine.
The enshrined deity at Otoshimioya Shrine is Otoshimioya no Mikoto, or sometimes called Kamu Oichihime no Mikoto, who is the mother goddess of Uga-no-Mitama no Kami and Otoshigami. It is said that the shrine was founded around 300 A.D. as to enshrine the guardian god of the market on the Abe River. Since the Kamakura period (1192-1333), the Shogunate governments revered the shrine. Especially during the Edo period large-scaled construction works were done in the Kanei era (1624-1643) and the Bunka era (1804-1817) with the patronage of the Tokugawa clan. The present magnificent buildings were built in the Bunka construction work, which took more than 60 years and spent 100,000 ryo in the currency at the time (about 7.5 billion yen). The shrine is also famous as the place where Kanami, the founder of Noh performance, died. The stone monument to praise his accomplishments is erected in the precinct.
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2007/2/22


うへ山の棚田 Uheyama-no-tanada Uheyama Rice Terraces

Jp En

The site of the Uheyama rice terraces, located in Mikata, Hyogo Prefecture, was chosen as one of Japan's 100 Top Rice Terrace Sites in 1999 (Heisei 11). A rice terrace is a rice field made in a stair-like pattern on the slope of a hill.

As you come along Route 482, Uheyama rice terraces are on the right, beyond the sign to Yoshitaki Campsite, with the mountain range rising up behind them.

Uheyama rice terraces are most beautiful in autumn, when the golden ears of the ripening rice blow in the wind. In early summer, the water channeled into the rice fields reflects the mountains beautifully, while in high summer, the growing rice creates a green carpet. In this way, you can enjoy scenes of the rice terraces changing from season to season.

Such sights as these represent an original landscape of Japan that helps make people feel in tune with nature.
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2007/1/26


仙の岩 Sen-no-iwa Sen-no-iwa Rock

Jp En

Sen-no-Iwa Rock and Kyushuhou, or 'the Blue Tunnel', are a representative group of Yamataikoku rock scenery. Kengadake Rock is especially famous for its massive and imposing size. The soaring rock appears like mountain scenery in a traditional ink painting.

This area is also where mountain religion is practiced and there are holy rocks and temples on the sheer 100m-high cliffs. At first, the area was known as Sen-no-iwa ('mountain hermit rock') because in ancient times, a mountain hermit from India dwelled here.

Sen-no-iwa rock looks impossible to climb; yet people ascend to the peak from where there are views of Mt Yufu and Tsurumi. Also, in spring, the scene of cherry blossoms in the small park is unforgettable.
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2007/1/24


千枚田 Senmaida Terraced Rice Paddies

Jp En

Senmaida are the rice paddies that rise up in terraces on mountains, near hilly places or on sloping sea-shore sites.

On terraced rice paddies, it is difficult to use mechanized farming methods because of the shape of the land. Ancient farmers had to carefully consider where they were going to position the paddy fields.

Water presents a problem, too. Water can easily run off the slopes, so it is difficult to save. Because the senmaida are located on high land, so the temperature of the water stays cool. High hillside areas also suffer from frequent droughts and are easily damaged in cold weather. In short, senmaida are less productive than lowland rice paddies.

But through ingenuity and hard work, Japanese farmers have silently made senmaida become fields of rice ears growing heavily on slopes. The paddies rising up the hills make for exquisite patterns, too.
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