when and where to see fall foliage (Japanese version only):

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Around the end of the year

Many people went to Ame-yoko in Ueno to get the ingredients of New Year's dishes. I'm struggling to clean my house and make the preparations for New Year's festivities.

Mikawa Manzai(三河萬歳) is the folk performing art that a duo named Tayu(太夫) and Saizo(才蔵) celebrate the New Year using a comic dialogue and dance in Mikawa(now Aichi Prefecture).  It has been designated a significant intangible folk cultural asset of the country.

Tayu from Mikawa chose a partner(Saizo) for manzai at the fair held in Nihonbashi around the 28th day of the 12th month during a short period in the Edo Period. Saizo were from the neighborhood of Edo(now Tokyo). They were allowed to act at Edo Castle or feudal lord's mansions and performed wearing a type of samurai's outfits.
Osan met a familiar Tayu on the run in "Daikyoji Mukashi-Goyomi(大経師昔暦)" by Chikamatsu Monzaemon(近松門左衛門).

In the Edo Period, sales and purchase on credit were standard business practice. Their pay days were the days before the festival days of the 3rd month, the 5th month, 9th month, the day before the Bon Festival in the 7th month and New Year's Eve.

Ihara Saikaku(井原西鶴) depicts battles between debtors and bill collectors on New Year's Eve in his book "Seken Munesanyo(世間胸算用)" published in 1692. These are not gloomy stories. Both of them are very tough to beat. Most commoners were shrewd.

The game was over at the dawn of New Year's Day, so bill collectors didn't collect from debtors on New Year's Day. People spent tranquil New Year's Holidays.

Concerts of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony - also known as "Daiku" in Japan - are held throughout Japan in December of each year. There are several theories about the origin of this custom.
It is said that the symphony was performanced for the first time in Japan on June 1st in 1918. German prisoners performanced it in a Japanese prison camp where 1000 German prisoners were placed.

They published newspapers, performanced plays, had concerts regularly and enjoyed various sports. They also passed on their excellent manufacturing techniques about dairy-products and sausages to local residents and built bridges.

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