NIPPON Kichi - 日本吉

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2007/2/14


津島神社 Tsushima-jinjya Tsushima Shrine

Jp En

Tsushima Shrine is located in Tsushima, Aichi Prefecture, and is the headquarters of the Tsushima Shrines in the Chubu region.

In 540, during the period of the Emperor Kinmei, the shrine was called Tsushima-Gozutenno shrine. In 810, the shrine was designated by the Emperor Saga as the best Japanese shrine and today it has about 3000 branch shrines.

During the Warring States period, Oda Nobunaga, who was born in Shobatajo, near Tsushima, worshipped at this shrine and cooperated with construction of the shrine buildings. The Toyotomi family succeeded Oda's faith.

The shrine's elegant main building is in Momoyama-period style and is designated as an Important Cultural Asset.

The buildings face south and there is a large red torii gate at the entrance. Along the approach to the shrine, you will see the south gate. Passing through the gate, you will see a partition wall, which is often seen in big shrines in Aichi.

Tsushima Shrine is also called Gozutenno-san and many people visit here to to worship.
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2007/2/12


門松 Kadomatsu Kadomatsu New Year Decoration

Jp En

The custom of 'kadomatsu' door decoration has been popular all over Japan since olden times.

Kadomatsu are placed in front of houses to welcome the New Year deity, purify the entrance and drive demons and evil spirits out. Originally, they were made from evergreen woods such as pine, cedar, beech and sakaki. But the prevalence of the use of pine has led to their naming as 'kadomatsu' ('gate pine').

'Pine lasts for 1000 years and bamboo for 10,000 years' is an old Japanese proverb. Pine and bamboo are popular materials for kadomatsu because people wish that Yorishiro, the place in which the deity lives, will last forever.

According to custom, kadomatsu should not be set up on 31st December. This is because it is not faithful to have only one day before welcoming the deity on New Year's Day. Moreover, the 29th should also be avoided because 'nine matsu' is the same pronunciation as 'wait for pain'. Usually, kadomatsu are set up by the 28th.
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2007/1/29


大原邸 Ohara-tei Ohara-tei

Jp En

Ohara-tei is a mansion that belonged to the Ohara clan, the high-ranking chief retainers of the Kitsuki Domain. It is one of the best samurai buildings of Kitadai, Oita Prefecture.

The oldest record of Ohara-tei mentions that Aikawa Tozo lived here in the Horeki period (1751~1764). Later, Oka Saburozaemon named this building 'Keikaro' but he left, then the building was used for samurais. After the Bunsei period (1818~1830), the Ohara clan lived here.

Ohara-tei is valued as the most formal mansion of its kind in Kitsuki. It is distinguished by the dignified gate with row houses on both sides, subtle entrances, thatched roofs, a separation between the drawing room and living room; as well as a shikidai, an entrance for high-ranking persons.

Its neat garden and big pond make us feel that this is an unusual samurai dwelling.
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2007/1/19


玄関 Genkan The Genkan

Jp En

The front entrance of any ordinary household, Zen temple, or public building is called the 'genkan'.

The term originated from one of the sayings of the Chinese philosopher Lao-Tzu, '玄の又玄なる衆の妙なる門', which led to its use in Japan during the Kamakura period as a Zen-Buddhist term. In Buddhism, entering a temple has the same meaning as entering Buddhist priesthood, and setting foot on the path for enlightenment, or 'gen'. Therefore any entrance to a building came to be called the 'genkan'. This was the origin of the use of the word 'genkan'.

Domestic architecture of the Heian period featured corridors, carriage porches and board doors. During this time, a low floor of wooden boards made for alighting palanquin passengers was called the 'genkan', while the area for receiving guests was called the 'shikidai'. In the early Edo period, these two spaces together came to be called the 'genkan'.

Town and village representatives were allowed to build a 'genkan' for receiving government officials, but commoners were not. By the Meiji period, though, all people of any status were free to build a genkan, but until the last world war, the formalities of the genkan deemed that only the master of the house or worthy-enough guests could use it, while family members used the inner genkan and servants used the backdoor.
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NIPPON Kichi - 日本吉 - 日本語に切り替える NIPPON Kichi - 日本吉 - to english

"Nippon-kichi" leads you to places, people and things that reveal a certain Japanese aesthetic.

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