Sunday, April 7, 2019

ceremonies for Imperial succession

The new imperial era will begin on May 1. Emperor Akihito will be called “emperor emeritus” and Empress Michiko “empress emerita” following his abdication in April.  Prince Akishino, Crown Prince Naruhito's younger brother, will be the next crown prince.

A series of the ceremonies for the Imperial succession started on March 12. Most of them are simple and are not open to the public.

Taiirei-Seiden-no-gi(the core abdication ceremony) beginning at 5:00 p.m. JST, April 30,
Kenji-to-Shokei-no-Gi(Inheritance Ceremony of Kenji and others)beginning at 10:30 p.m. JST, May 1,
Sokuigo Choken-no-gi (the new emperor's declaration of accession to the throne)beginning at 11:10 p.m. JST, May 1
will be broadcast live on NHK(Japan Broadcasting Corporation), NHK World(https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/).

 In 2019 travelers should be careful about the holidays that will last from April 28(27) to May 6.


The abdication ceremonies of Emperor Akihito


12 March 
Kashikodokoro-ni-Taii-oyobisono-Kijitu-Hokoku-no-gi:
Koreiden-Shinden-ni-Taii-oyobisono-Kijitsu-Hokoku-no-gi:
 The Emperor wearing ancient attire for emperors reads out a script to report his abdication and its date at Kashikodokoro(賢所), Koreiden(皇霊殿) and Shinden(神殿) on Imperial Palace grounds.
Imperial ancestor Amaterasu-omikami(the sun goddess) is enshrined in Kashikodokoro(賢所). Successive emperors and members of the imperial family are enshrined in Koreiden(皇霊殿). Eight guardian gods of emperors and gods in heaven and earth are enshrined at Shinden(神殿).

Jingu-Jinmu-Tenno-Sanryooyobi-Showa-Tenno-izen-Yondai-no-Tenno-Sanryo-ni-Chokushi-Hakkenn-no-gi:

The Emperor sends Imperial envoys for reporting his abdication and its date, and making offerings to the Ise Grand Shrine and the Mausolea of Emperor Jinmu and the 4 recent Emperors up to Emperor Showa.
The Mausolea of Emperor Komei and Emperor Meiji are located in Kyoto City, Kyoto Prefecture.  Those of Emperor Taisho and Emperor Showa(Hirohito) are located in Hachioji City, Tokyo Prefecture.

15 March
Jingu-ni-Hohei-no-gi:
The Imperial envoy reports the abdication and its date, and made offerings at the Ise Grand Shrine.
Jinmu-Tenno-Sanryo-oyobi-Showa-Tenno-izen-Yondai-no-Tenno-Sanryo-ni-Hohei-no-gi:
The Imperial envoys report the abdication and its date, and made offerings at the Mausolea of Emperor Jinmu and the 4 recent Emperors up to Emperor Showa.

26 March
Jinmu-Tenno-Sanryo-ni-Shin'etsu-no-gi:
The Emperor pays reverence at the Mausoleum of Emperor Jinmu, Kashihara City, Nara Prefecture.

18 April
Jingu-ni-Shin'etsu-no-gi:
The Emperor pays reverence at the Ise Grand Shrine, Ise City, Mie Prefecture.
23 April
Showa-Tenno-Sanryo-ni-Shin'etsu-no-gi:
The Emperor pays reverence at the Mausoleum of Emperor Showa, Hachioji City, Tokyo.
30 April
Taiirei-Tojitsu-Kashikodokoro-Omae-no-gi,
Sokuirei-Tojitsu-Koreiden-Shinden-ni-Hokoku-no-gi:
 The Emperor reports the conduct of the Abdication Ceremony at Kashikodokoro, Koreiden and Shinden in Imperial Palace.

Taiirei-Seiden-no-gi(退位礼正殿の儀, the core abdication ceremony):
Attendants gather at the Matsu no Ma (main hall) of the Imperial Palace. At 5:00 pm, the imperial couple enter the hall. They are accompanied by the crown prince and the crown princess, imperial princes and princesses(their wives), imperial princesses, great-granddaughters of Emperor Taisho. Chamberlains place the sword and the jewel of the Three Imperial Regalia, the Great seal and the Imperial seal on a table in front of the emperor. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe gives a speech on behalf of the Japanese people. The emperor gives a farewell address.

About 338 attendants of the ceremony include the prime minister, cabinet ministers, speakers and vice‐speakers from both houses of the Diet, the chief justice of Supreme Court of Japan, prefectural governors. After the couple make their exit, the attendants make their exit. The ceremony lasts for 10 minutes from 5:00 pm.


三神器
sword, mirror, and magatama
PawełMM [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

The Three Imperial Regalia consist of the sword Kusanagi (草薙劍), the mirror Yata no Kagami (八咫鏡), and the jewel Yasakani no Magatama (八尺瓊勾玉). 

Magatama are curved, comma-shaped beads. The oldest  magatama were excavated from ruins of the Jomon Period(c.14,000- 300BCE). The beads were popular in the tumulus period(300-538).
Yata no Kagami is a bronze mirror with one side polished bright, to give a reflection, and the reverse side with designs.

It is thought that the three regalia became used to confer legitimacy on their owner as an emperor around 9th century. The real sacred mirror is enshrined as an object symbolizing the goddess Amaterasu Omikami at the Ise Grand Shrine, Ise City, Mie Prefecture. Its replica is enshrined at Kashikodokoro of Imperial Palace. The real Kusanagi sword is placed at Atsuta Jingu Shrine in Nagoya City, Aichi Prefecture. Its replica and the jewel (it's real) are stored in a room of Imperial palace.

The sword's replica was made during the reign of Emperor Sujin, who is said to have lived in the early 1st century, or the third or fourth century. In the Nihonshoki(Chronicles of Japan), the real Kusanagi was moved from the Imperial palace to the Ise Grand Shrine. Later it was transferred to the Atsuta Shrine.
Though the replica remained in the Imperial palace, it  sank to the sea floor in 1185 when the Taira clan were defeated by the Minamoto clan at the Battle of Dan-no-ura. The sword and the jewel sank with many Taira clan members including the eight year-old Emperor Antoku. The jewel was recovered, but the sword was lost. Another sword was sent from the Ise Grand Shrine to the Imperial palace, and the sword became the replica of Kusanagi sword.

However, no one (even emperor) can see the real regalia and the replicas.


the enthronement ceremonies of the new Emperor

1-3 May
Kashikodokoro-no-gi:
Ceremony to report  the accession to the throne at Kashikodokoro in Imperial Palace(ritual prayer by a proxy).
1 May
Koreiden-Shinden-ni-Hokokuno-gi:
Ceremony to report the accession to the throne at Koreiden and Shinden in Imperial Palace(ritual prayer by a proxy).

Sokui no rei(即位の礼, enthronement ceremony) :

 1. Kenji-to-Shokei-no-Gi(Inheritance Ceremony of Kenji(剣璽, the sword and the jewel) and others)
Attendants of the ceremony including cabinet ministers, the heads of the three branches of government  gather at the the Matsu-no-Ma hall of the Imperial Palace. At 10:30 am, the new emperor enters the hall. He is accompanied by the crown prince and adult imperial princes.  Chamberlains place the sword and the jewel of the Three Imperial Regalia, the Great seal and the Imperial seal on a table in front of the new emperor. The new emperor makes his exit. Chamberlains carry the regalia and the seals out of the hall. The attendants make their exit. The ceremony lasts for 10 minutes from 10:30 am.


2. Sokuigo Choken-no-gi (the new emperor's declaration of accession to the throne)
Attendants of the ceremony gather at the the Matsu-no-Ma hall of the Imperial Palace. At 11:10 am, the new imperial couple enter the hall. They are accompanied by the crown prince and the crown princess, imperial princes and princesses(their wives), imperial princesses, and great-granddaughters of Emperor Taisho. The new emperor make an address. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe gives a speech on behalf of the Japanese people. The new imperial couple make their exit. The attendants make their exit. The ceremony lasts for 10 minutes from 11:10 am.

4 May
Ippan-Sanga(Visit of the General Public to the Palace for celebrating the enthronement of the new emperor):
The new emperor receives congratulations from the general public after the Enthronement Ceremony at the Imperial Palace. No reservations are necessary, but visitors need to allow enough time to go through security check.

8 May
Kashikodokoro-ni-Kijitsu-Hokoku-no-Gi:
The new emperor reports the dates of the Enthronement Ceremony and Daijosai (Great Thanksgiving Ceremony) at Kashikodokoro in  Imperial Palace.
Koreiden-Shinden-ni-Kijitsu-Hokoku-no-Gi:
The new emperor reports the dates of the Enthronement Ceremony and Daijosai (Great Thanksgiving Ceremony) at Koreiden and Shinden in  Imperial Palace.
Jingu-Jinmu-Tenno-Sanryo-oyobi-Zen-Yondai-no-Tenno-Sanryo-ni-Chokushi-Hakken-no-Gi:
Ceremony to send Imperial envoys for reporting the dates of the Enthronement Ceremony and Daijosai (Great Thanksgiving Ceremony), and making offerings to the Ise Grand Shrine and the Mausolea of Emperor Jinmu and the 4 recent Emperors up to Emperor Showa.

10 May
Jingu-ni-Hohei-no-Gi:
The Imperial envoy reports the dates of the Enthronement Ceremony and Daijosai (GreatThanksgiving Ceremony), and makes offerings at the Ise Grand Shrine.
Jinmu-Tenno-Sanryo-oyobi-Showa-Tenno-izen-Yondai-no-Tenno-Sanryo-ni-Hohei-no-gi:
The Imperial envoys report the dates of the Enthronement Ceremony and Daijosai (GreatThanksgiving Ceremony), and make offerings at the Mausolea of Emperor Jinmu and the 4 recent Emperors up to Emperor Showa.

22 October
Sokuirei-Tojitsu-Kashikodokoro-Omae-no-gi:
The Emperor reports the conduct of the Enthronement Ceremony at Kashikodokoro.
Sokuirei-Tojitsu-Koreiden-Shinden-ni-Hokoku-no-gi:
The Emperor reports the conduct of the Enthronement Ceremony at Koreiden and Shinden.

Sokuirei-Seiden-no-Gi(即位礼正殿の儀, the core enthronement ceremony):
The new emperor proclaims his enthronement and receives felicitations of representatives from home and abroad. About 2,500 guests are invited to attend the ceremony, including heads of states and their spouses, congratulatory envoys and their spouses, ambassadors to Japan, representatives of Japanese descendants from 195 countries.

Shukuga-Onretsu-no-Gi(the coronation parade):
A celebration parade moves from the Imperial Palace to the Akasaka Imperial Residence. The imperial couple get in a convertible, the crown prince does in another car. About 110,000 people lined motorcade route to cheer at the last coronation parade in 1990.

22, 25, 29, 31 October
Kyoen-no-Gi(Imperial Court banquet):
Court banquet to celebrate the enthronement of the Emperor and for him to receive the congratulations of the guests in the Imperial Palace. Sit-down dinners are held on October 22 and 25, stand-up ones are done on October 29 and 31.
About 2,600 guests are invited to attend the banquet, including heads of states and their spouses, congratulatory envoys and their spouses, ambassadors to Japan and their spouses, representatives of Japanese descendants.

23 October
Formal dinner put on by the Prime Minister and his wife at the Hotel New Otani Tokyo:
About 900 guests are invited to attend the dinner, including heads of states and their spouses, congratulatory envoys and their spouses, two representatives of each country, representatives of Japanese descendants.

14-15 November
Daijosai(大嘗祭, GreatThanksgiving Ceremony)

Daijokyu-no-gi 
(Yukiden-Kyosen-no-gi,Sukiden-Kyosen-no-gi):
Daijosai is a Niinamesai that a new emperor holds for the first time after his enthronement. Annual Niinamesai is a harvest festival held at Shinkaden in Imperial Palace on November 23rd. The festival dates back at least to 677. 
Daijosai takes place at a temporary site. This year's site is East Gardens on Imperial Palace Grounds.
The new emperor dedicates newly harvested rice to imperial ancestors and gods in heaven and earth for the first time after his enthronement, and he partakes of the rice.
The rites related to Daijosai  are held on May 13, November 8, 12, 13,14,16, 18. The dates of five rites are to be determined.

TBD
Sokuirei-oyobi-Daijosai-go-Jingu-ni-Shin'etsu-no-Gi:
The Emperor pays reverence at  the inner and outer shrine of the Ise Grand Shrine after the Enthronement Ceremony and Daijosai (GreatThanksgiving Ceremony).
Sokuirei-oyobi-Daijosai-go-Jinmu-Tenno-Sanryo-oyobi-Zen-Yondai-no-Tenno- Sanryo-ni-Goshin'etsu-no-Gi:
The Emperor pays reverence at the Imperial mausoleums of Emperor Jinmu and the four most recent Emperors, after the Enthronement Ceremony and Daijosai (GreatThanksgiving Ceremony).
Sokuirei-oyobi-Daijosai-go-Kashikodokoro-ni-Shin'etsu-no-Gi:
The Emperor pays reverence at Kashikodokoro in the Imperial palace after the Enthronement Ceremony and Daijosai (GreatThanksgiving Ceremony).
Sokuirei-oyobi-Daijosai-go-Koreiden-Shinden-ni-Shin'etsu-no-Gi:
The Emperor pays reverence at the Koreiden and Shinden in the Imperial palace after the Enthronement Ceremony and Daijosai (GreatThanksgiving Ceremony).
Sokuirei-oyobi-Daijosai-go-Kashikodokoro-Mikagura-no-Gi:
A ceremonial performance of Mikagura (Japanese Court Music) at Kashikodokoro after the Enthronement Ceremony and Daijosai (GreatThanksgiving Ceremony)

19 April, 2020
Rikkoshi-no-Rei(立皇嗣の礼):

Ceremony for Proclamation of the new Crown Prince at the Imperial Palace

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Japan's next era name

Japan's next era name is “Reiwa(令和)”, the government announced on Monday. The Japanese era name "Heisei(平成)" is scheduled to end on 30 April 2019 when Japan's Emperor Akihito will abdicate. He will relinquish the throne to his eldest son, Crown Prince Naruhito. The new imperial era will begin on May 1.

Japanese era name called gengo used to be changed repeatedly for various reasons including new emperors' enthronement,  natural catastrophes, plague outbreaks prior to the Meiji period. It was established by law to change era names only when a new emperor acceded to the throne in 1868. The legal basis of the Japanese era system is lost in 1947 when the former Imperial Household Law was abolished. An era-name bill was passed, and legislation on the era name system was enacted into law in 1979.

The era names  started with Taika(大化, 645-650).  From Taika to Heisei(current era name),  247 era names were used. The kanji "令" is not included in the previous 247 era names. The kanji "和" is included in 20 era names such as Wado(和銅, 708-715), Jowa(承和, 834-848), Genna(元和, 1615-1624), Meiwa(明和, 1764-1772), Showa(昭和, 1926-1989). All era names other than Reiwa are derived from Chinese classics. Reiwa comes from a preface to a ume(plum) poem in "Manyo-shu(Collection of Ten Thousand Leaves)", the oldest existing collection of Japanese poetry in the late eighth century.

original text of the ume poem:
于時、初春令月、氣淑風和、梅披鏡前之粉、蘭薫珮後之香。

初春の令月(れいげつ)にして、気淑(よ)く風和ぎ、梅は鏡前の粉を披(ひら)き、蘭は珮後(はいご)の香を薫す
Early spring(February),  it's good month to begin everything, the air is clean, the wind is calm.
Ume blossoms come into bloom like a beauty who is putting on face-powder before a mirror.
Sweet herbs(or a party space?) emit scents  as if traces of a scented sachet emanate.

Its author is unknown, but the poem is said to have been written on the 13th day of the 1st month in 730 when a ume viewing party was held at Otomo no Tabito's home.

The collection of poems includes approximately 4,500 poems written by people from every walk of life from different regions of Japan over a period of about 300 years. Its poets consist of a variety of persons such as emperors, aristocrats, commoners, people at the very end of the road, front-line soldiers, punished or executed persons and beggars.





Wednesday, January 2, 2019

New Year's Holidays 2019

May the New Year bring many good things to you.

2019 is the Year of the Pig according to the Chinese zodiac. Each of the 12 Chinese zodiac signs is related to a characteristic animal. In the Japanese zodiac, the Pig is replaced by the boar because pigs were not common in Japan.

Wild boar was thought to be a messenger of the god of fire prevention. People used to put heaters  in rooms to pray for fire prevention on the day of the boar. A pig-shaped burner for mosquito coil(蚊取り線香) is popular, but the burner is said to be boar-shaped to pray for fire prevention originally.

Visitors can sometimes see ornamental metal fittings with heart shaped cut outs in Japanese Shinto shrines and Buddhist temples. The cut outs mean Inome(猪の目, boar's eye) and have been used to ward off evil spirits and bring happiness.

Inome-window, Shoju-in(正寿院), Okuyamada, Ujitawara-cho, Tsuzuki-gun, Kyoto Prefecture
credit: Hunini
From Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository




New Year's card

"亥" means a boar.
"元旦" means New Year's Day morning.



















New Year's card

The Japanese era name "Heisei(平成)" is scheduled to end on 30 April 2019 when Japan's Emperor Akihito will abdicate. He will relinquish the throne to his eldest son, Crown Prince Naruhito. Japanese era names used to be changed repeatedly prior to the Meiji period. It was ruled to change era names only when a new emperor acceded to the throne in 1868. The next era name is in the air. The government will release the name a month before the imperial succession.


















New Year's greetings

formal(to elders and betters)
・謹賀新年(Kinga Shinnen)
・恭賀新年(Kyoga Shinnen)
・謹んで新春のご祝詞を申し上げます
・謹んで初春のお慶びを申し上げます

New Year's card


New Year's card





New Year's card




unformal
・寿(kotobuki) -- happy, auspicious
・福(Fuku) --happiness
・賀(Ga) --celebration
・賀正(Gasho) --observe New Year's holidays
・賀春(Gasyun) --observe a new year
・頌春(Shosyun)--praise a New Year
・迎春(Geisyun) --embark on a new year
・初春(Hatuharu) --a new year, beginning of year
・新春(Shinsyun) --a new year

"春" means spring. Spring means a new year because a year used to begin around the first day of spring according to the lunar calendar.

New Year's card


New Year's card

New Year's card


to anyone
・明けましておめでとうございます
・新年おめでとうございます
・新春のお慶びを申し上げます

New Year's card


New Year's card

Ornamental cabbages(葉牡丹, habotan) have been used as a ground cover plant of New Year's decorations since the middle of the Edo Period. Habotan means leaves like a peony. In recent years, miniature ornamental cabbages are very popular as a cut flower or a plant suited to group plantings. A bouquet made of the cabbages looks like a rose bouquet.

Ornamental cabbages are often planted with violas and garden cyclamens.




two types of ornamental cabbages and a garden cyclamen



New Year Holiday Arrangement with an ornamental cabbage




Ornamental cabbages flower in the second year



New Year Lease



Ready-made traditional New Year foods called Osechi Ryori are set in three-tiered boxes.









Wednesday, September 19, 2018

The 65th Japan Traditional Kogei(Art Crafts) Exhibition

The 65th Japan Traditional Kogei Exhibition(日本伝統工芸展) is taking place at Mitsukoshi department store in Tokyo from September 19 to October 1.
The exhibition requires the applicants to create sophisticated design based on high degree of professional skill in Japanese traditional techniques. The exhibition's winning works are available in each venue, but their prices are not indicated.

See the Japan Kogei Association site for further information:
https://www.nihonkogeikai.or.jp/ (Japanese version only)
Japan Traditional Kogei Exhibition:
https://www.nihonkogeikai.or.jp/exhibition/honten (Japanese version only)


The Exhibition will travel through the following venues:

Mitsukoshi Nihonbashi Main Store, Tokyo
September 19-October 1, 2018
Mitsukoshi Nihonbashi Main Store:
https://www.mitsukoshi.mistore.jp/nihombashi.html


Mitsukoshi Nagoya Sakae Store, Nagoya City, Aichi Prefecture
October 3-8, 2018
Mitsukoshi Nagoya Sakae Store:
https://mitsukoshi.mistore.jp/store/nagoya/index.html
http://nagoya.mitsukoshi.co.jp/


Takashimaya Kyoto Store, Kyoto Prefecture
October 17-22, 2018
Takashimaya Kyoto Store:
https://www.takashimaya.co.jp/kyoto/store_information/index.html


Ishikawa Prefectural Museum of Art, Kanazawa City, Ishikawa Prefecure
October 26-November 4, 2018
Ishikawa Prefectural Museum of Art:
http://www.ishibi.pref.ishikawa.jp/e_home/


Takashimaya Osaka Store, Osaka Prefecture
Novmber 7-12, 2018
Takashimaya Osaka Store:
https://www.takashimaya.co.jp/osaka/store_information/index.html


the Okayama Prefectural Museum of Art, Okayama City, Okayama Prefecture
November 15-December 2, 2018
The Okayama Prefectural Museum of Art:
http://okayama-kenbi.info/en/


Shimane Art Museum, Matsue City, Shimane Prefecture
December 5-25, 2018
Shimane Art Museum:
http://www.shimane-art-museum.jp/en/


the Kagawa Museum, Takamatsu City, Kagawa Prefecture
January 2-20, 2019
The Kagawa Museum:
http://www.pref.kagawa.lg.jp/kmuseum/foreign/


Mitsukoshi Sendai Store, Sendai City, Miyagi Prefecure
January 23-29, 2019
Mitsukoshi Sendai Store:
https://mitsukoshi.mistore.jp/store/sendai/index.html
 

Mitsukoshi Fukuoka Store, Fukuoka City, Fukuoka Prefecture
February 6-11, 2019
Mitsukoshi Fukuoka Store:
https://mitsukoshi.mistore.jp/store/fukuoka/index.html
http://www.m.iwataya-mitsukoshi.co.jp/index.html


Hiroshima Prefectural Art Museum, Hiroshima City, Hiroshima Prefecture
February 21-March 10, 2019
Hiroshima Prefectural Art Museum:
http://www.hpam.jp/


Mitsukoshi Matsuyama Store, Matsuyama City, Ehime Prefecture
March 12-17, 2019
Mitsukoshi Matsuyama Store:
https://mitsukoshi.mistore.jp/store/matsuyama/index.html

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Three main Bon dance of Japan

The Bon holidays were over last week. In many areas, the Bon festival is held from August 13 to 16 (in other areas, from July 13 to 16 or from 13th to 16th days of the 7th month in the lunar calendar.)
The Bon dance is one of the Bon events. The dance is said to have started when people danced in delight along to the Buddhist chants because it rained after doing a ritual for rain. Bon dances were originally held to send off the spirits of our ancestors, but they have become local festivals for entertainment. Originally, Bon dance took place from early evening until dawn. People used to gather and dance spontaneously to welcome the spirits of the dead or deities in the early evening and to send off them at dawn. People danced on the border between this world and the netherworld. After send-off ceremony, people never look back, or the spirits come along. The original form of Bon dance is inherited in some areas.

Three main Bon odori(Bon dance) of Japan are Awa Odori(阿波踊り) in Tokushima Prefecture, Gujo Odori(郡上踊り) in Gifu Prefecture, and Nishimonai no Bon Odori(西馬音内の盆踊り) in Akita Prefecture.


Some information on Awa-odori(Awa dance festival) available at the following post: 

Unfortunately, this year's Awa odori was a poorly run festival. Visitors and dancers were frustrated. Awa Odori Promotion Association announced that Awa odori will take place at a hall in Tokushima City as a charity event for the victims of the 2018 Japan floods on 24 September. Then about 1,000 dancers will perform at a park near the hall to raise money for the victims. Heavy downpours caused devastation across large parts of western Japan in late June through mid-July.  The disaster left 225 dead and 11 missing (as of August 6.) 

We've had many typhoons this year. In late July through early August, Typhoon Jongdari exceptionally moved from east to west over Japan, did two loops, and made landfall in Shanghai, China. Typhoon Soulik hit the Amami Islands, moved over the seas west of Kyushu, and made landfall in the Korean Peninsula on Friday before dawn. Typhoon Cimaron moved across the Japanese archipelago and weakened to a tropical storm on Friday. The remnants of typhoons Soulik and Cimaron brought heavy rainfall to Hokkaido.

For those who say Tokushima is far away, I tell them Awa-odori is seen in Tokyo and Saitama prefectures.

The 62nd Tokyo Koen-ji Awa Odori in Koen-ji, Tokyo
dates: 25 and 26 August
venues: Koen-ji Station, shopping mall around the station, and eight venues

A lot of dancing groups called ren dance at the venues and in the street. In 2017, 169 groups including ones in another areas, dancers from Tokushima participated in the dance festival.

Tokyo Koen-ji Awa Odori:

Dancers 7
Dancers 7 (credit:MarkPeteSwin/flickr)


DSC_0198
DSC_0198 (credit: Marufish/flickr)




DSC_0724
DSC_0724 (credit: Marufish/flickr)



DSC_0017
DSC_0017 (credit: Marufish/flickr)


DSC_0153
DSC_0153  (credit: Marufish/flickr)


DSC_0107
DSC_0107 (credit: Marufish/flickr)

DSC_0129
DSC_0129 (credit: Marufish/flickr)

Minamikoshigaya Awa Dance in Koshigaya City, Saitama Prefecture
dates: 24 - 26 August
venues: Koshigaya Community Center(two halls and square), station square of Minamikoshigaya Station, and four venues(streets)

About 700,000 visitors came to watch this dance festival.

Minamikoshigaya Awa Dance:
https://www.saitamatsuri.jp/matsuri/koshigaya_awaodori/
http://www.minamikoshigaya-awaodori.jp/index.html (Japanese version only)

Koshigayaawaodori
credit:Ocdp
from wikimedia commons

Gujo Odori in Gujo Hachiman, Gifu Prefecture

The dance is taking place for 32 nights during a long period from July 14 to Semtember 8 this year. Dance venues are different each time. People dance in the streets  from 8 p.m. until the next morning at 5 a.m.(4 a.m. on the last day) from 13 to 16 August. It has been designated an Important Intangible Folk Cultural Property.

Dancers have dancing geta(wooden clogs) for Gujo Odori. The event has 10 dance songs. The first song is "kawasaki", and the nine songs including kawasaki are played over and over again. The last song is "Matsusaka." It is played only once a day. I performed Bon dance to tunes of kawasaki in gym class during high school.

According to a historical paper published in 1840, shrine parishioners danced at their shrine until dawn during the Bon period until the middle of the 18th century. The Gujo Domain issued some proclamations that samurai, their family members and their servants were not to be allowed to go dancing during the Bon period.

Gujo Hachiman Tourism Association:
http://www.gujohachiman.com/kanko/odori_e.html


Gujo odori
Gujo odori (credit: tsuda/flickr)



Gujo odori
Gujo odori (credit: tsuda/flickr)


Gujo odori
Gujo odori (credit: tsuda/flickr)

All Night Dancing
Gujo odori all night
Gujo odori all night (credit: tsuda/flickr)

All Night Dancing
Gujo odori all night
Gujo odori all night (credit: tsuda/flickr)

midnight stalls
Gujo odori all night
Gujo odori all night (credit: tsuda/flickr)

Nishimonai Bon Odori in Ugo-machi, Ogachi-gun, Akita Prefecture

The bon dance has been designated an Important Intangible Folk Cultural Property and takes place from 16 to 18 August every year.

Town Ugo Tourism&Products Association(Japanese version only):
http://ugo.main.jp/bonodori/index.html

What first strikes you about this dance performance are dancers wearing black, fabric full-face hoods with two eye holes. Other dancers also hide their faces with rush braided hats.

Nishimonai Bon Odori (credit:Chris Lewis/flickr)

Nishimonai Bon Odori (credit:Chris Lewis/flickr)

Dancers wear distinctive, traditional attire. They are patchworked kimono called hanui. The oldest attire has been passed down from the Edo period. It's not uncommon to see the attire over 100 years old.

Adult women wear patchworked kimono with rush braided hats. Men and underage women wear tie-dyed kimono with black full-face hoods.

Nishimonai Bon Odori (credit:Chris Lewis/flickr)


Nishimonai Bon Odori (credit:Chris Lewis/flickr)


Nishimonai Bon Odori (credit:Chris Lewis/flickr)

There is no records showing the bon dance's derivation and history. It is said that Nishimonai Bon Odori is a mixture of the dances for harvest and for the dead.

According to legend, an ascetic monk built a branch shrine which enshrined Zao Gongen and got people dance to pray for abundant harvests at the shrine in the end of 13th century.

A lord of Yashima Castle took refuge in Nishimonai Castle whose lord was his wife's father, but troops tried to attack Nishimonai Castle. The Yashima Castle's lord committed suicide by sword to take responsibility for bringing trouble to his father-in-law in 1593. The Nishimonai Castle's lord set fire to his castle and escaped to Shonai region in 1600. One theory holds that some retainers of the Yashima Castle's lord started Bon dance to pray for the soul of  the deceased lord. According to another thoery, some ex-retainers of the Nishimonai Castle's lord who remained as farmers in Nishimonai started Bon dance in a reminiscent mood.

Visitors can see the three main Bon odori in Fujisawa, Kanagawa Prefecture around the end of July. Fujisawashuku Yugyounobon is held at shopping malls around Fujisawa Station and Yugyou-ji Temple for three days.

Fujisawashuku Yugyounobon(Japanese version only):
http://www.fujisawa-cci.or.jp/yugyou2018%20bosyu/index.html



●another festivals other than the three main Bon odori

Yamaga Lantern Festival  in Yamaga City, Kumamoto Prefecture

It is held on 15 and 16 August. Women in yukata(casual summer kimono) dance with Kanatoro(gold and silver paper lanterns) on their heads. Now most Kanatoro are LED paper lanterns.

Yamaga Toro(lantern) is made of washi paper and glue. It was designated as national traditional industrial arts in 2013. Kanatoro is popular, but Yamaga Toro has another design that has the shape of various buildings.

Lantern Dancers in Yachiyosa theater
Lantern Dancers in Yachiyosa theater (credit: JoshBerglund19/flickr)



Lantern Dancers in Yachiyosa theater
Lantern Dancers in Yachiyosa theater (credit: JoshBerglund19/flickr)



Lantern Dancers in Yachiyosa theater
Lantern Dancers in Yachiyosa theater (credit: JoshBerglund19/fllickr)


Yamaga Toro dates back to the 12th century when Yamaga residents held up torches to light the way in a dense fog for Emperor Keiko and his party. They got to a temporary lodging for the emperor safely. The remains of the lodging(current Omiya Jinja Shrine) was dedicated to the emperor. The residents offered torches to the remains every year. In the Muromachi Period(ca.1336 - ca.1573), torches turned to paper lanterns.

It was in 1954 when women with lanterns on their head started to dance. Now 1,000 female dancers with lanterns on their head perform a dance for many tourists.

 Yamaga Lantern Festival:
http://yamaga-tanbou.jp/about/toromatsuri/




From early evening until dawn, people dance in the streets at Owara Kaze no Bon, a festival to pray for an abundant harvest and protection of planted rice from high wind due to typhoons in Tatsuo City, Toyama Prefecture. The festival continues until dawn even after most tourists go to their accommodation.

Owara Kaze no Bon:
http://ichinen-fourseasonsinjapan.blogspot.com/2010/09/abnormally-hot-summer.html





Saturday, August 11, 2018

Japan's Pompeii - Kanbara



Kanbara Kannon-do Hall
courtesy of トカ太(Tokata)
Kanbara Kannon-do Hall (鎌原観音堂,a temple dedicated to the Buddhist Goddess of Mercy Kannon) stands in Kanbara area, Tsumagoi village, Agatsuma-gun, Gunma Prefecuture.


Kanbara Kannon-do Hall
courtesy of トカ太(Tokata)

Kanbara Kannon-do Hall
courtesy of トカ太(Tokata)

The hall has 15 stone steps now. Legend has it that Kannon-do had 150 stone steps. In 1979 the grounds of the hall was examined. The hall had once had 50 stone steps. Debris buried its 35 steps(6.5 meters in height .)

And two female skeletal remains(partially mummified) were found.

Kanbara Kannon-do Hall
courtesy of トカ太(Tokata)

Mount Asama straddling the border between Gunma and Nagano Prefectures has often erupted. In 1783 the eruption reached its peak about 10:30 a.m. on August 5(the 8th day of the 7th month in the lunar calendar) after the volcano had repeated small eruptions. The eruption issued a large amount of pyroclastic fall, lava flow, pyroclastic flow, debris avalanche and lahar. (mudflow). Experts infer that debris avalanche battered Kanbara village. It crushed 957 homes and left 1,443 people dead in an area surrounding the mount.

The two remains were found at foot of the hall's steps. They are considered as parent and child or younger and much older siblings because two restored faces are quite similar. Younger woman was about to give older one a piggyback ride up the steps. They were so close to survival, but just couldn't survive the debris avalanche.

There are also other opinions. Some people say that there was no time to evacuate and that people happened to be at the hall to pray for the end of volcanic eruption. Another says that there was 10 minutes to evacuate because the speed of debris avalanche was estimated to be about 30 or 40 kirometers per hour.

The avalanche buried Kanbara village(current Kanbara area in Tsumagoi village) and killed 466(or 477*) of 597  villagers. (*Some experts infer that 11 villagers of the survivors died from eruption-related injuries and  burns long after the eruption. The text on a stone monument to commemorate the 32nd death anniversary of the victims says the number of the victims was 477.)

The survivors were 80 villagers who stayed outside the village and 51 who were able to reach the hall, a neighboring village and a nearby mountain,  happened to survive in a hut, a field, a survivor's house. After the disaster 93 Kanbara's survivors remained in the village. Five neighboring village headmen rode to rescue of 93 survivors. In the end 55 survivors have remained in Kanbara ever since. Most survivors in other devastated areas abandoned their villages.

The Kanbara's survivors re-established their village in the same place. Widowers got married widows.  Parents of deceased children adopted orphans.

I have heard a man talking on a TV program before. As I got a strong impression from his talk, it is remembered to this day.
A presumed descendant of the survivors said, "A man asked the survivors, 'Why didn't you abandon your village?' They answered, 'Because we couldn't bear to leave our family members behind. They are buried under here.'"
Though it's uncertain as to whether or not he talked about the 1783 Asama Eruption, there is no other instance like the reconstruction of Kanbara village.

Kanbara was a pastoral village and yet a strategic spot on the road.  Inns, wholesale stores, tea shops lined both sides of the street. The Edo Shogunate disbursed 1,050 ryo(approx. 136 million yen at present value) to Kanbara village and 4,766 ryo(approx. 620 million yen at present value) to 19 seriously damaged villages for post-eruption recovery. Actually, the Shogunate ordered Kumamoto Domain to pay 100,000 Ryo as reconstruction aid. The domain could not afford to  pay the huge sums of money, so the domain's residents paid a lot of money. After the Kumamoto earthquakes occurred in 2016, Kanbara residents raised money for victims of the quakes. They thank Kumamoto citizens to this day.

Stone monument to commemorate the 32nd death anniversary of the victims
(33回忌供養碑)
courtesy of トカ太(Tokata)
The surviviors held a Buddhist memorial service on the 32nd death anniversary of the victims in 1815.  At the same time they built a monument with carved names of the victims by receiving a helping hand from neighboring villages.

Stone block bearing the name of Enmei-ji Temple
courtesy of トカ太(Tokata)
Enmei-ji Temple(延命寺) was buried by the eruption. The temple's chief priest was engulfed in the eruption on his way to the Mount Asama on that day. He headed for the volcano to pray to end its eruption. The location and existence of the temple was unknown. Ironically, the stone block was found at the riverside of the Agatsuma River due to flooding of the river in 1910.

The remains of its constructions was confirmed buried 6.5 meters under the ground, 200 meters from Kannon-do in 1980. Artifacts including Buddhist ritual objects had been discovered through six examinations since 1985. 

The remains of folk houses at Tooka-no-kubo(十日ノ窪) were examined in 1979 and 1980. About 2,000 housewares were found. They included some articles such as a lacquer comb, a tortoise shell hairpin, a mercury mirror, a tea bowl and a kettle for the tea ceremony. Their owners were commoners.

Monument to the Asama Eruption, gravestones,  and Okomori-do
courtesy of トカ太(Tokata)
Okomori-do is a building with hanging towels located behind stonegraves. Kannon-do became known to the whole country after examination in 1979. The hall had an increasing number of tourists. In 1979, 7th and 8th generation descendants of the survivors and their relatives, newcomers after the eruption, launched Kanbara Kannon-do Hoshikai(service club.) They take turns to receive visitors. They offer prayers to the victims, hold memorial service for the victims on August 5 every year.

As of 2001, about 80 percent of Kanbara village residents were the descendants of the survivors. So they had a tremendous amount of respect for Kannon(Goddess of Mercy) enshrined in Kannon-do who saved dozens of survivors. Villagers who helped the excavation works had strong sense of prayer. They saw the lifestyles of their ancestors and felt the pains of the victims. Kannon-do is also a meeting place  for residents.

A memorial service called mawari-nenbutsu takes place twice a month. Homes used to take turns providing a venue for it. It is held at a local multipurpose center now. Not all homes participate in it. In the venue, three hanging scrolls with the names of the 477 victims, the Thirteen Buddhas, Kobo-Daishi(Kukai) are displayed. Participants chant some nenbutsu(prayers to Amitabha Buddha) and wasan. Wasan are Buddhist hymns in Japanese. Wasan chanted here were made in the Meiji Period. They represent the tragedy of the 1723 Asama eruption and a prayer to Amitabha Buddha.



Tsumagoi Kyodo Shiryokan(嬬恋郷土資料館, Tsumagoi Folk Museum)

The museum shows artifacts, illustration of damage, an erupting volcano diorama,  restored faces of  two women who were found at foot of Kannon-do's steps. Visitors can see views of Mount Asama and current Kanbara area  in the observation room.

Tsumagoi Kyodo Shiryokan(Japanese version only):
https://www.vill.tsumagoi.gunma.jp/shiryo_kan/index.html

Tsumagoi Village is Japan's top producer of cabbages and is a popular tourist destination.

Tsumagoi Cabbage&Asamayama

The village has several camp sites, spa and ski resorts.

Palcall Tsumagoi Ski Resort
Palcall Tsumagoi Ski Resort in Tsumagoi, GunmaJapan.
From Wikimedia Commons

Oni Oshidashi lava(鬼押出し)

The Lava covered about 6.8 square kilometers of the surrounding forest, forming a flow field 800-2,000m wide and extending 5.5 km to the north. The analyses of the welded pyroclastic rocks show that the Oni Oshidashi lava is considered to be clastogenic lava. Pyroclastic material ejected from a volcanic vent piled up around the vent in the shape of a cone with a central crater. A high flux of pyroclast accumulation around the vent led to clastogenic lava flows from the northern lowest rim of the summit crater. "Oni Oshidashi" means "lava that an ogre pushed outward from a volcano."

鬼押出し
Oni Oshidashi
鬼押出し (credit: duke.yuin/ flickr)





IMG_0715.JPG
Oni Oshidashi
IMG_0715.JPG (credit: bizmac/flickr)


onioshidashi_03
onioshidashi_03 (credit: yamakidoms/flickr)




Mt.Asama 06
Mt.Asama as seen from Onioshidashi, Tsumagoi Vill., Gunma Pref., Japan
credit:Σ64
from Wikimedia Commons

Visitors can see the Oni Oshidashi lava at the Onioshidashi-en(鬼押出し園, Onioshidashi Park) or the Naganohara town municipal Asama-en(浅間園, Asama Park).

The Onioshidashi Park is located near Karuizawa. The Kokudo Corporation developed Onioshidashi  as a tourist site. Now Prince Hotels manages the park.

In the park Kannon-do(a branch temple of Kan'ei-ji Temple in Ueno, Tokyo) was built to mourn for the victims in 1958. The survivors of the volcanic eruption sought rescue from the Kan'ei-ji Temple. The chief priest of the Zenko-ji Temple in Nagano Prefecture(the former chief priest of the Kan'ei-ji) came to the disaster area, provided meals to the survivors, and chanted a prayer for the victims for 30 days. In the following year, 1784, the priest held a memorial service for the victims at the Zenko-ji Temple.

浅間山観音堂
Asamayama Kannon-do
浅間山観音堂 (credit:duke.yuin/ flickr)

Mt.Asama 07
Asamayama Kannon-do
from Wikimedia Commons

IMG_0752.JPG
IMG_0752.JPG  (credit: bizmac/flickr)

IMG_5997
Asamayama Kannon-do
IMG_5997 (credit:markehr /flickr)
鬼押し出し
Asamayama Kannon-do
鬼押し出し (credit: Nao Iizuka/ flickr)

The Naganohara town municipal Asama-en has the Asama Volcano Museum, a volcano walk, a trekking course(need for guide, since Mt. Asama is a volcano. Small eruptions sometimes occur at Mt. Asama. Advance reservations are required), a trailer site, a cycleway in the forest, and a motorcycle museum(almost Japanese classic bikes.)

ASAMA Volcano Museum 2017-04
Asama Volcano Museum
credit:京葉快速26
from Wikimedia Commons

the Onioshidashi-en (Japanese version only):
Naganohara town municipal Asama-en(Japanese version only):


The Great Tenmei famine is considered to have set in 1782, and  lasted until 1788. The 1723 Asama eruption contributed to the famine. Volcanic ash was sent down around Japan, resulting in cold weather that led to catastrophic crop failure. Mount Iwaki in Aomori Prefecture also erupted in 1783.

In Iceland, the Laki volcanic fissure erupted over an eight-month period between June 1783 and February 1784.  The Laki eruption and its aftermath affected the whole of the northern hemisphere.