Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Leaf-viewing and Shichi Go San

In the Heian period, noblemen in Kyoto enjoyed leaf-viewing.
An imperial autumn-leaves viewing party named Momiji no Ga(紅葉賀)  is described in the 7th chapter of "The Tale of Genji".  Musicians perform a variety of music on the boats. A large dragon's head or a bird's neck was attached to their bows. Selected dancers give performances. Hikaru Genji performs a dance named seigaiha(青海波) wearing colored leaves (and a chrysanthemum) in his hair.
Even now we can see the dance in the gagaku performance. Gagaku(雅楽) is Japanese traditional music and dance.

This year's foliage season will be from mid November to early December in Kyoto. Many good spots for viewing autumn leaves in Kyoto will be full of visitors.

Tsuzumi(鼓:Japanese hand drum) and yokobue(横笛:a Japanese transverse flute made of bamboo)

Kougou(香合:incense container) in the shape of kaki

six-panel folding screen with a painting of colored maple leaves

Shichi Go San(七五三:The Seven-Five-Three Festival) is a traditional event to celebrate children's growth and pray for their future good health. It's an ancient event and came to be held on the 15th day of the 11th month in the early Edo Period.
On November 15th, 3-year-old boys and girls, 5-year-old boys and 7-year-old girls in formal dress such as kimono are taken by parents to a shrine. It comes from the ancient three events of obitoki(帯解) for 7-year-old girls, hakamagi(袴着) for 5-year-old boys and kamioki(髪置) for 3-year-old boys and girls.

Obitoki was a custom done by the families of commoners. From this day, 7-year-old girls started to put on obi(sash) in place of cloth bands .  Fathers visited to the guardian deity of their birthplace hoisting their daughter on to their shoulders.
Hakamagi was a custom done by the families of warriors.
Kamioki was a event that 3-year-old boys and girls grew their hair out from this day. Mothers visited the guardian deity with their childen in their arms.

We can see chidren in formal dress on weekends around November 15th. I gradually became uncomfortable with securely-tied obi(belt) when I was a child and visited a shrine.

Chitose-ame(千歳飴) is a stick of red or white hard candy in a bag with a painting of auspicious symbols such as "crane and turtle" and "pine, bamboo and ume".
Chitose-ame literally means thousand year candy and its length symbolizes long life.  It contains rice and malt. It is made using malt to break down rice starch into sugar.

There are hand-rolled sushi on the table.

Ringo-ame(リンゴ飴:apple coated with sugar), Takoyaki(たこ焼き:octopus dumpling) and Wata-ame(綿飴:cotton candy) are sold from stands at a festival.

a pair of zori(草履:Japanese sandals) are placed on the step-stone.

No comments:

Post a Comment