Sunday, December 19, 2010

Asakusa Toshi no Ichi

Asakusa Toshi no Ichi(浅草歳の市:Asakusa Year-end Fair) was held on the grounds of Sensoji Temple(浅草寺) from December 17th to 19th.The fair has been famous since the Edo period. It is said that the fair started in 1659. New Year's decorations and kitchen utensils were sold at the fair.  It is said that the grounds were overflowing with people. Now the fair is famous as a battledore fair. One side of the hagoita(battledore) is decorated with a padded cloth picture of characters from Kabuki dramas.

Hanetsuki(羽根突き) is a traditional New Year's game similar to badminton. It is played with a wooden battledore and a hard black seed to which feathers have been attached like a shuttlecock. Some people say it came from a Chinese play, but there are several possible origins of it.

Hanetsuki first appeared in a book "Kanmon-gyoki(看聞御記)" in 1432. A book published in 1444 says Hagoita was used at New Year's.Hagoita was also called Kogiita(胡鬼板).
Some people say Kogi(胡鬼) meant a dragonfly in ancient China, a ball with feathers looks like a mosquito and dragonflies prey on mosquitos that carry diseases, so Hanetsuki was held to wish to protect children from mosquito bites at New Year's.

Some say that Tsukubane(衝羽根:Buckleya lanceolata) was used as a shuttlecock in the Muromachi Period(1338-1573) and it was called Kogi.

The seed of soapberry(無患子, mukuroji) was used as the ball of a shuttlecock, because mukuroji means children who stay free of disease.

Hagoita portraying Sagicho(左義長), which is one of the New Year holiday events, were used as a gift or a wedding gift by aristocrats.

Hanetsuki became popular around the end of around the end of the seventeenth century and hagoita were sold as a toy for New Year's Holidays at year-end fairs.

In the late Edo period, hagoita decorated with a padded cloth picture became very popular.

On the first New Year's Day of a girl, people presented hagoita to her parents to drive away evil spirits .

羽子板・揚巻 デザイン:弓岡勝美
"Hagoita Agemaki" designed by Katsumi Yumioka.

Agemaki is a courtesan and appears as the lover of Sukeroku(助六) in a Kabuki play named Sukeroku Yukari no Edozakura(助六由縁江戸桜), one of the Ichikawa family's repertoire comprising 18 classical Kabuki pieces(歌舞伎十八番).

Katsumi Yumioka, Chirmen no Oshie to Tsuribina to Temari (Tokyo:NIHON VOGUE-SHA.Co,Ltd.,2002),P.57.

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