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

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

memorial service for old needles

In Edo(now Tokyo), the 8th day of the 12th month was regarded as the starting date of the preparations for New Year's festivities and the 8th day of the 2nd month was regarded as the ending date of them. Commoners in Edo put up a bamboo pole attached a bamboo sieve during the period.

According to a Japanese folklore, the two monsters named Hitotsume-kozou (一つ目小僧, one-eyed boy) and Mikari-baba(箕借り婆, witch) come by on these days.
There is a theory that bamboo sieves were used to ward them off. Woven-bamboo patterns have the shape of pentagram or hexagram. People believed that pentagram and hexagram had a power to ward off evil.

Some people say this folklore derived from the fact that both days were regarded as sinister days and people were stuck in the house without working.

However, the 8th day of the 2nd month was starting date and the the 8th day of the 12th month was the ending date at the beginning of the Edo Period.

Feburuary 8th is regarded as the starting date of the farm work and December 8th is the ending date of it in some areas.

Hari-kuyo(針供養:memorial service for old needles) is held to thank used-up needles and wish to improve sewing skills on Feburuary 8th (mainly in east areas) or December 8th(mainly in west areas).
On this day, sewers don't needlework, stick old or broken needles into tofu(soybean curd) or konnyaku(konjac) and bring them to shrines.

It is said that the event was started at Awashima Jinja Shrine(淡嶋神社) in Wakayama Prefecture.

Japan raided the Pearl Harbor and started a war with the U.S. in 1941.

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