Futakoshi chirimen, also called ancient chirimen, is one of traditional fabrics that have been handed down in Japan for years.
Chirimen is white crepe cloth produced in the Tango region of Kyoto and the Nagahama region of Shiga. Most kimonos are made with this white chirimen which is then dyed to create beautiful kimono colors.
Chirimen is made by first scouring silkworm thread and then twisting about 18 to 27 of these threads into one thread.
There are two kinds of chirimen depending on the method of weaving. For Hitokoshi chirimen, one thread is twisted from the right and the next one from left, and these are alternated in the weaving process. Futakoshi chirimen uses two threads instead of one and it has a more uneven surface than Hitokoshi.
Most of the chirimen made from the Edo period to the Meiji period was futakoshi chirimen. After the end of the Meiji period, however, the weaving of chirimen started to wane and it is hardly made now.
Futakoshi chirimen is soft and airy and it has good ventilation. It is also light weight and has elasticity. It is a silk fabric that keeps the look and feel of authentic chirimen.
Its original character is 气. Again, the original character of 气 is 乞, the form of moving clouds. 気 can be thought of as the basic unit of energy, be it air, atmosphere, weather, vapor, or breathing.
In ‘Explanation of Common Use Kanji,’ the last character dictionary of Dr. Shirakawa, for the first time in his dictionaries, we find his explanation commenting on the vital role of 米 ‘rice’ nurturing 気 spirit or energy. By the way, also Jacob Chang-Ui Kim from Korea gave a similar view in his English explanation of Kanji.
Food is what supplies living beings with energy. Without eating, one cannot live and there is no vitality. From ancient times on, rice is the basic food and basis of energy in East Asia.
The upper part of 気 can also be thought of as the rising steam from rice boiling, and it therefore may even be regarded as a pictograph. In Japanese, 気 came to be used in a lot of expressions describing human feelings and states of mind. In East Asia as a whole, it has become the basis of martial arts culture built on the importance of breathing techniques, as Chinese shadow boxing and Aikidō.
In ancient Greek philosophy, with ‘pneuma,’ there is a very similar notion. The Stoa, a classic school of thought that commends pantheism and a life style following the laws of nature, taught that ‘pneuma,’ the most fine matter like air, is the carrier of ‘logos,’ or world reason, extant everywhere in the universe. In this sense, 気 is (was) a common way of thinking in East and West.
Chimanji Temple located in Kawane-Honcho, Haibara-gun, Shizuoka Pref. is a historic temple of the Soto sect Buddhism. The principal object of worship are Hasso Shakamuni Nyorai (the eight aspects of Shakamuni), Hokan Shakamuni Nyorai (crowned Shakamuni), Senju Kanzeon Bosatsu (Kannon with 1,000 arms) and Yakuyoke Enmei Jizo Bosatsu (life prolonging Jizo).
According to the temple record, it originates in a hermitage built by Kochi, a second generation student of Priest Ganjin, in the Nara period (710-794). Some say that it was founded as an attached temple of Chimanji Temple in Shimada City to teach priests of the Tendai sect. After the mid-Heian period, it was flourished as a training ashram for mountain practitioners. In 1491, the temple sect was changed to the Soto sect and a Zen monk Kaifu Keimon of Dokeiin Temple in Suruga province was invited as the first resident priest of the new temple. During the Warring States period (1493-1573), the temple was revered by the Imagawa and Tokugawa clans.
Located in a scenic place with refreshing air, the temple is proud of its fine groves in the precinct including ten cedar trees of 800 to 1,200 years old, which are nationally designated Natural Monuments.
Ryukyu pottery is a traditional handicraft handed down in the Tsuboya district in Naha City, Okinawa Prefecture. Pottery techniques were introduced to Ryukyu through the trade with Southeast Asian countries during the 15th century.
Later in the early 17th century, potters from Korea and China were invited to teach their techniques to the local potters, who gradually combined them with the techniques used in the Satsuma domain, the ruler of Ryukyu at that time, and developed their original pottery ware. In the late 17th century, King Shotei of the Ryukyu Dynasty concentrated all the workshops build around his country in the Tsuboya district. Since then the Tsuboya district has been the center of Ryukyu pottery up to the present time.
Using locally produced clay and glazers, it is characterized by generous-hearted and bright impression that is typical to the south land. Pottery produced at these kilns is classified largely into two groups; Ara-yachi and Jo-yachi. Ara-yachi potteries are not glazed and large in size, while Jo-yachi includes those finely-glazed and having painted designs.
Himuro Yakushi, or formally named Murakamiji Temple, is a historic temple founded by Sakanoue Tamuramaro in 807 to pray for safety of his soldiers. The temple has been worshipped by local people for its divine power to bring national safety and people’s happiness.
Yakushi Nyorai at this temple is especially famous for curing eye diseases. Votive tablets, on which faces with big black round eyes are drawn, are hung at the side of the Yakushi Hall. Also, many pieces of paper, on which pictures of eyes are drawn, are dedicated and hung inside the hall. You will feel strong religious faith dedicated to the temple from these votive articles.
There is an interesting legend about this temple. Once upon a time, there lived an extremely cowardly warrior in a nearby village. He wanted to cure his cowardice and visited the temple on 100 consecutive nights. On the 100th night, a specter appeared in front him. Then he gathered his courage and struck at it with his sword only to find that it was a pillar of the hall. Visitor can see the scar made by him even today. It’s a heart-easing story for a temple with such a solemn atmosphere, isn’t it?
Flower Festival at Shiogama Shrine in Shiogama City, Miyagi Prefecture, is an annual festival of the shrine held on the 4th Sunday of April every year. As the festival is held during the cherry blooming season in the Tohoku region, it began to be called “Flower Festival.”
The origin of the festival dates back to the Anei era (1772-1780), when a severe flood attacked the region and farmers suffered from a bad harvest. It is said that when the villagers offered a prayer to the deity at Shiogama Shrine for a good harvest, they had good weathers and a rich harvest in the next year. To express their appreciation, they held a festival and the mikoshi (portable shrine) parade in 1788.
On the festival day, 16 shrine laymen called “Yocho” in white costume carry the mikoshi and walk through the city. During the procession, the carriers do not utter a single word and just walk in a solemn manner exposed to quiet Gagaku music (Japanese court music) and flattering cherry petals.
The travel of deity has been handed down to the modern generations for over 200 years without impairing its magnificence.
Hisagonuma Pond is located about 3 km down from Mt. Tomuraushi, which is to the south of lofty Taisetsu Mountains in the central Hokkaido. The pond, which is plentiful in water, is the place of relaxation for the climbers of both Mt. Tomuraushi and Mt. Kaundake in the vicinity. The name “Hisago” meaning hyotan (a gourd) in ancient Japanese may have come from the shape of the pond. As it is close to Tomuraushi, which means “a place with plenty of flowers” in Ainu, the area around the pond is blessed with a variety of alpine plants. Flowers of various colors bloom all together in spring and summer. Seen from a nearby hill, the pond with blue water and surrounding green forest provides you with an exquisite view. Touched by the breath of the sacred mountain, you will have a really relaxing time by this pond. The mountains, which you have just come down, are covered with mist. In that clear air, the surface of the pond looks as smooth as a mirror. And the numerous colorful flowers all around you. Standing in such a wonderful landscape, you will never cast your eyes aside, even if you are whispered, “Hyotan Kara Koma,” literally “a horse from a gourd.”
Hirennuma (Tragic Love) Pond is a 0.2-hectare pond located to the north of Hyakunin-hama Beach near Cape Erimo in southern Hokkaido. The name of the pond derives from a tragic legend dating back to the 17th century.
Legend has it that a wajin (ethnic Japanese) merchant Kyusaku and an Ainu girl Maera fell in love with each other. When Kyusaku had to go back to Honshu (the main island of Japan), Maera saw the boat which Kyusaku was aboard until it went out of sight. After she tearfully stayed there for many days, she disappeared to somewhere. Then people found a pond on the beach where she had been standing.
There are communities of cast plants and alpine plants in the area around the pond and they are forming a fine flower field that is as beautiful as Genseikaen parks (primeval flower garden). Filled with clear water, the pond lies quietly in refreshing atmosphere. It is even cool in summer due to the wind blown from the Pacific Ocean.