2012年02月28日

'Dondo-yaki' also known as 'sagicho' is a kind of fire festival, making a bonfire of the New Year's decorations.

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Many Japanese people bring their own New Year's decorations such as pine branches, bamboos and straw wreaths, the first calligraphy of the year and old good-luck charms into neighboring Shinto shrines, rice fields in which the harvesting was over or vacant lots.
They make a bonfire with them on the 15th of January, when 'ko-shougatsu' the lunar New Year is corresponding.
The flames of a fire are thought to have a mysterious power to expel evil spirits and stimulate the locals life force, in the world of Shintoism that is Japan's native religion. In addition, this rite involves many spirits which dwelled in the New Year's decorations during the New Year holidays, going back to heaven with the rising smoke.
Originally observed in the rice paddies by the children of each area, the place has been gradually changed to the local Shinto shrines and vacant lots of residential areas in line with the urbanization and the smaller number of children in Japan.

Posted by licensed tour guide/travel assistant,
Masahisa Takaki.

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posted by masahisa at 10:33 | Japanese festivals | このブログの読者になる | 更新情報をチェックする

2011年01月09日

A 'kadomatsu' and 'shimekazari', also known as a 'shimenawa', are arranged at an entrance of a residence or store during the New Year.

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Based on the teaching of 'Shinto', Japan's indigenous religion, the ornament-like objects called a 'kadomatsu' and 'shimekazari', made of a twig of pine, bamboo or rice straw, are seen at an entrance of many buildings in the New Year.
A pair of a 'kadomatsu' in the picture above is placed at an entrance of a building, while a 'shimekazari' in the picture below is put up on the upper part of the front door. These ornamental objects are thought to have a mysterious power to attract the ' toshi-gami',the god who brings good harvest of the year, and to purify the inside of a house or building. This is a same idea as tall trees or big rocks wound with straw rope in 'Shinto' shrine precincts. Lastly, pine trees are regarded as a symbol of the longevity in the country.

Licensed tour guide,
Masahisa Takaki.

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posted by masahisa at 11:48 | Japanese festivals | このブログの読者になる | 更新情報をチェックする

2010年11月29日

'Shichi-Go-San',a gala day for children of three, five and seven years of age, who dress up in traditional kimonos and visit the local shrine with 'chitose-ame', a long stick of candy, in their hands.

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'Shichi-Go-San', one of the major annual events in Japan,is said to date from the 17th century. Pretty children with traditional kimono, accompanied by their parents, are seen within a pale of a shrine throughout the country like in the picture above before and after the 15th of Nov. Before in the middle of the 19th century when Japan's modernization begun, the infant mortality had been very high due to the malnutrition and poor medical technology. Therefore the children under seven were regarded as a fragile being, who were likely to go back to heaven. Based on this way of thinking, the custom of cerebrating children reaching three, five and seven years old and of offering thanks to God, has taken root in the country. While in the picture below,a candy called 'chitose-ame' that is an essential part of this gale, is shown. A pair of long and narrow candies in a special paper bag is necessarily carried by boys and girls in their hands.

Licensed tour guide,
Masahisa Takaki.

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posted by masahisa at 11:04 | Japanese festivals | このブログの読者になる | 更新情報をチェックする