NIPPON Kichi - 日本吉

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2007/12/25


小泉八雲旧居 Koizumiyakumo-Kyuukyo Lafcadio Hearn’s Old Residence

Jp En

Lafcadio Hearn, was an Irishman who was a naturalized Japanese and who took the name Koizumi Yakumo.  He is well known as the writer of such books as Kwaidan, which contains ghost stories including Hoichi the Earless and Snow Woman.  Lafcadio Hearn’s Old Residence is the house where he spent half the year, from May through November in 1891, with his new bride Setsu.  Setsu was the daughter of a samurai family from Matsue. The residence has been well preserved and few changes have been made.  It is also known as “Herun’s Old Residence”, Herun being a rendering of his name - Hearn, in Japanese Roman letters.  He loved the name and he often used it himself.
Lafcadio Hearn’s Residence  was originally built for a samurai of the Matsue Clan during the period 1716~1735. It is said that Hearn, eager to live in a samurai house, rented the residence which was unoccupied at that time.    
Hearn especially loved a room from which he could see the garden on three sides.  He enjoyed the garden so much that it was mentioned in his book Glimpses of Unfamiliar Japan.
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2007/8/9


松川だるま Matsukawa-daruma Matsukawa Daruma Doll

Jp En

Among Sendai Hariko (papier-mache), a kind of toy made from molded and colored paper, probably the most common item is the Matsukawa Daruma doll. This daruma is colored ultramarine around its face, and the body is decorated with a relief motif of a bringer of good luck such as a treasure ship, the god of wealth, the pine, bamboo and plum trees, Ebisu, a carp swimming up the waterfall, and “Ichi-fuji, ni-taka, san-nasubi (Mt. Fuji at the first, hawk at the second, eggplant at the third).” It is distinctive that real hair is used to make its eyebrows and it has glass-made eyes. This daruma is a long-beloved item as a mascot or a bringer of good luck.

According to one widely-accepted opinion, Matsukawa Daruma was named after Matsukawa Toyonoshin, a retainer of the Date clan and the person who created this daruma about 170 years ago. The daruma dolls were produced by low-ranked warriors of the domain as their side jobs. Different from daruma dolls made in other areas, Matsukawa Daruma has black eyes. According to one opinion, this was because warriors were concerning about their one-eyed lord, Date Masamune.

Matsukawa Daruma was originally made in a much more simple style. It was Takahashi Tokutaro (1830-1913), or the Buddhist sculptor Mentoku II, that improved it into the present gorgeous doll.
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2007/8/6


仙台張子 Sendai-hariko Sendai Hariko (Papier-Marche)

Jp En

Sendai Hariko is a kind of toy made from molded and colored paper, on which patterns such as Oriental Zodiac animals, Fukusuke, or various masks are painted. It is said that this craft was created by a low-ranked warrior of the Sendai domain during the Tenpo era (1830-1844) and its making was widely spread among warriors as their side jobs.

Though technical improvements were made during the Edo period, the making of Sendai Hariko was discontinued in the Meiji period (1868-1912). It was revived by local people in 1921 and has been handed down to the present days.

The most common item of Sendai Hariko is the Matsukawa Daruma doll. The daruma is colored ultramarine around its face, and the body, in strong relief, is decorated with the god of wealth, a treasure ship, and so on. Also, it has eyebrows made of real hair and eyes made of glass. It is loved by people as a bringer of good luck.

Other lovely Hariko such as various kinds of masks and animals are also popular. As they are all hand made, each pieces of Sendai Hariko has gentle warmth and a humorous shape that can’t be created by machines. Maybe this is why they have been loved by people for nearly 200 years
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仙台御筆・宮城野萩筆 Sendai-ofude Miyagino-hagi-fude Sendai Ofude (Brushes), Miyagino Hagi-fude

Jp En

The brush making in Sendai began in the early Edo period (1603-1868), when Date Masamune, the founder of the Sendai domain, invited a craftsman specialized in brush making from Osaka to promote learning and industry. Accordingly, the domain had its own brush-making craftsmen, and the low-ranked warriors also began to make brushes as their side jobs.

Because of their careful work and efforts to improve skills, Sendai Brushes gradually earned reputation, and eventually, it was dedicated to the Shogun of the time. Since then, Sendai Brushes have been deferentially called “Ofude,” which means “an honorable brush.”  

Among Sendai Brushes, the ones made of hagi (Japanese bush clover) naturally grown in Miyagino, which was Masamune’s hunting field, is called Miyagino Hagi-fude. The wild touch of the brush-holder and the sensitive hair at the tip are favored by poets and fanciers all over the country as the hallmark of Sendai Ofude.
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2007/8/3


元禄坊主おどり Genroku-bouzu-odori Genroku Bouzu Dance

Jp En

Genroku Bouze Dance, or Genroku Buddhist Monk Dance, is dedicated to the deity of Itsukushima-jinjya Shrine located in Minashiro Miyanokubi, Shintomi-cho, Yuyu-gun, Miyazaki Prefecture, and is performed annually on August 15th according to the lunar calendar. The dance is designated as an intangible folklore cultural asset by the town.
Genroku Bouze Dance has been passed down since Muromachi Period in four neighboring areas of the town; Miyanokubi, Hiraikura, Yadoko and Oku. During the rule of Takanabe Akizuki Clan, the dance was performed as part of the festival dedicated to the water god mainly at Hiokimizunuma-jinjya Shrine which was associated with the clan.  
The dancers consist of more than five groups of three people, a monk, a man and a bride as well as singers, drums and clappers accompanying them.
The dance celebrates a rich harvest, and there is a storytelling element where a man and his bride are dancing together happily, a monk tries to cut in between them and get in the way. It contains the theme of human drama which became popular at the end of Edo Period.
Genroku Bouzu Dance is a folk art that has a long history passed on through the generations.
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2007/6/18


仙台藩白老元陣屋跡 Sendaihan-Shiraoi-motokonya-ato The Former Site of the Sendai Clan Manor House

Jp En

At the end of the Edo period, the Tokugawa Shogunate decided to end its policy of national isolation and took the first step to open the country at last. However, they were cautious about the Russia’s southern expansion and orders several domains in the Tohoku district including the Sendai domain to reinforce the defense of Hokkaido. The former site of Shiraoi Jinya, or the Sendai Clan Manor House, is the ruins of one of the base camps constructed by the Sendai domain in the town of Shiraoi in the western part of Hokkaido.

Shiraoi Jinya was the largest base camp in Hokkaido. The range of defense that the Sendai domain undertook covered a huge area from Shiraoi Town to the northern territories including the islands of Kunashiri (Kunashir) and Etorofu (Iturup), which amounts to one third of Hokkaido. Today, a part of earth works and wooden walls remain as they were in those days. The ruin site is arranged into a fine park, but visitors can feel the breath of warriors who risked their lives in defending the country in the turbulent eras.
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2007/6/1


松下村塾 Syouka-sonjyuku Shokasonjuku Academy

Jp En

Shokasonjuku Academy is where Yoshida Shoin, a distinguished intellectual in the Choshu domain, ran a private academy in the last days of the Tokugawa Shogunate. It is designated as a National Historic Site.

It is a one-storied small wooden house with an area of only 50 sq m. Originally, it only had an 8-mat lecture room. With the increase in the number of disciples, a 4.4-mat room, two 3-mat rooms, the doma (earth-floored space) and a mezzanine floor were added by the hands of Shoin and his disciples.

In 1842, Bunnoshin Tamaki, Shoin’s uncle, founded a small academy in his house. Later it was discontinued for a while but Gorozaemon Kubo, Shoin’s another uncle, repaired the barn into a lecture room and resumed the academy. Then in 1857, Shoin took it over and developed many youths.

He treated his disciples equally regardless of the social status. Most of his disciples were sons of low-ranked warriors. Though he taught at the academy for less than three years, his disciples absorbed his ideas and played key roles in bringing about the Meiji Restoration. His disciples include Takasugi Shinsaku, Kusaka Genzui, Yamagata Aritomo, Ito Hirofumi and Shinagawa Yajiro.
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2007/5/9


箕浦家武家門 Minourakebukemon The Buke-mon Gate of the Minoura Family

Jp En

The gate with an imposing appearance stands across Prefectural Road 323 from the prefectural office building. This is what used to be the main gate of the residence of the Minoura family, who served for the Tottori domain lord and were enfeoffed with 2,000 koku of rice during the Edo period (1603-1868). With the white sea slug walls making a beautiful contrast with its black tiled-roof, the gate shows the dignity of the old-time warrior class.

The gate was originally located at the southern corner of the wet moat surrounding Tottori Castle. It was relocated to the present place in 1936, when the school buildings of Tottori Teachers Training Institute were extended and reconstructed. The gate had been used as the school gate of the institute and later of the junior high school affiliated to Tottori University. When a prefectural library was planned to be constructed, the gate was dismantled and repaired for preservation. As the city’s only one existing gate in Buke-zukuri style (the architectural style used for warriors’ residences), it is designated as a cultural property of the city.
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