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Saturday, July 17, 2010

the end of the rainy season and The Gion Festival

The Japan Meteorological Agency announced the end of the rainy season in many areas including Tokyo today. It is predicted that scorching hot days with temperatures near 35
degrees Celsius will continue for a week.

The Gion Festival is being held in Kyoto from July 1st to the 31st. It was originally started to counteract the epidemic spreading across Japan in 869.
The highlight of the festival is the Yamahoko-junko(山鉾巡行), a parade of 32 beautifully decorated floats on the 17th. The floats are decorated with old textiles and paintings by famous painters of the Edo Period, and are sculptured by famous artisans in the Edo Period.
The textiles includes tapestries made in 15th-century and 16th-century Belgium, ones in the Ming dynasty(1368-1644) of China, one in Mughal-era Pakistan(1526-1858) and ones in Persia. So the floats are represented as a "moving museum." Replicas of them or new tapestries are also used in place of old ones.

The Kyoto summer is very hot, but people in Kyoto realize that summer has come by the festival.

"Horikawa Nami no Tsuzumi(堀川波鼓)" is a bunraku play, which was written by Chikamatsu Monzaemon(近松門左衛門) based on an actual incident that happened on the 7th day of the 6th month in the lunar calendar (July 16th in the Gregorian calendar) in 1706.

A member of the Tottori clan was transferred to Edo far away from his family in the 6th month, 1705. On the 15th day of 5th month in 1706, he came home. On the 27th day of 5th month, he killed his wife because of her adultery. On the 4th day of 6th month, he went to Kyoto with his wife's sister. On the 7th day of 6th month, during the Gion Festival, he killed his wife's secret lover.
Samurai was allowed to kill the man who committed adultery with his wife.

In the play, his wife Tane(たね) is fond of drink and let her drinking take control. It precipitates her ruin.

In the Chikamatsu's early plays, villains entrap lead characters to destruction so that the audience can empathize with them.
However, there are no villains in his late plays. He becomes convinced that he can touches the hearts of the audience by depicting weakness of one's character which cause a fatal mistake.

Hanging his summer clothes out on a sunny day in spring, she think of him. She is eagerly waiting for her husband's return. She covers for her loneliness with playing tsuzumi(traditional handy drum).

Although she makes her koto master drink to stop his mouth, she high-handedly make a pass at him under the influence of drink. It goes against the image of a samurai's wife. She is brutally honest. So today's audience can empathize with her.

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