Japanische Impressionen

von Keiji Yoshida

Nach Beendigung seines Studiums zum Apotheker an der Pharmazeutischen Hochschule in Akita trat Herr Keiji Yoshida eine Stelle bei der Präfektur-Verwaltung Akita in der Pharmazeutischen Abteilung an. Nach ein paar Jahren übernahm er die Leitung der Abteilung für Gesundheit und Sozialwesen.

Der damalige Bürgermeister von Yuzawa, Nobukuni Nisaka, bat ihn um Hilfe bei einem sehr großen medizinischen Projekt für die Stadt Yuzawa, so dass Herr Yoshida als Stellvertretender Bürgermeister für 4 Jahre nach Yuzawa wechselte. Während dieser Zeit besuchte er im Zuge des Schüleraustausches zweimal als Begleiter der Gruppe die Stadt Siegburg.

Aus dieser Zeit stammen die Kontakte zwischen ihm und der Vorsitzenden der DJG Siegburg, Frau Claudia Bjelke-Holtermann. Wir sind sehr dankbar für die wunderschönen Fotos, die Herr Yoshida uns zur Verfügung stellt. Mit Hilfe dieser Fotos können wir unseren Mitgliedern und Lesern Japan näher bringen.

 


Spring fairy of the Oga peninsula

Well, I will introduce the topic of attractive spring flowers in the Oga Peninsula in Akita Prefecture. Have you heard of the word Spring Ephemeral? This word translates directly into "nuances of spring", and ephemeral is an English word derived from a word meaning "one day's life" in Greek. By the way, ephemera seems to represent an insect bites.

Then, what is Spring Ephemeral, it is a generic term for plants that show us only during a short period of spring.There are various kinds of spring and ephemeral, such as Kibana-ikariso (Epimedium koreanum) Fukujuso(Adonis ramosa), Nirinso(Anemone flaccida and Katakuri(Erythronium joponicum). Generally, the plant body is small, and most of them are pretty things that make flower of bright colors bloom.

When spring comes, the woods become very lively. Although it is fun to look at the cherry blossoms blooming in the park and feel the spring, but entering the mountain and walking a little downwards, you can discover the delightful spring fun that is different from cherry blossoms.

 


Dainichido Bugaku

Dainichido Bugaku that have been designated as an important intangible folk cultural heritage of the country, have the Akita prefecture's oldest history, it has been handed down between the also about 1300 years.

Miko Mai, Kanate Mai, there is a dance of such Gongen Mai, it will be dedicated to the New Year Dainichi Ohimemuchi shrine (Dainichido) endowment festival. In 2009, it was registered in the UNESCO intangible cultural heritage.

 


Choukurairo dance

In "Kimpoh shrine" of Akita Prefecture Nikaho Kisakata, the festival was held. The shrine is located at the foot of Mt. Chokai.
Then, the "Choukurairo" which is designated as an important intangible folk cultural heritage of the country has been dedicated.
The dance is staged is the stage of the soil in the precincts of the shrine. After the portable shrine of the matrix was three laps the stage, and appeared six children wearing  Hanagasa・・loral decoration shade・・ they played the "children of the dance" and "Taiheiraku dance of" to pray for life-prolonging longevity.
Choukurairo is comprised of seven of the repertoire.
This dance is a traditional arts dating back to about 1200 years ago. Choukurairo has been designated as an important intangible folk cultural heritage of the country in 2004.

 


Senshu outdoor tea ceremony
(Nihon Reido Ogasawara Ryu)

In early June, the tea ceremony which gathered eight of the schools in the Akita Prefecture, was held in Senshu park of Akita City. The fresh green of the season, a lot of people enjoyed the outdoor tea ceremony of each school. The ruins of a castle (Senshu park) located in slightly elevated hill of Akita City, the tea ceremony is provided by schools. Then, according to each of etiquette, tea ceremony has been unveiled. Use of water mellow flavor, green tea was served.

I enjoyed the outdoor tea ceremony of the Nihon Reido Ogasawara Ryu (Ryu means school). Since I've taken the tea party of the Ogasawara Ryu to post the state.

Sadou・・span lang="EN-US" class="">the way of tea, chano-yu・・span lang="EN-US" class=""> is a traditional Japanese culture. It is not only the way of serving or drinking tea but composite art including fine arts, craftwork, flower arrangement, architecture, landscape gardening, cooking and others. Learning the tea ceremony is considered a part of etiquette and mental training.

 


The Miyoshi Bonden Festival

Mt.Taihei Miyoshi Shrine (Akita-city,Akita)

Worshipping the patron saint of “Victory & Success” and “business prosperity,” at this Shinto shrine "Sakanoue no Tamuramaro" is said to have prayed for victory during the expedition against the Emishi. The Miyoshi Bonden Festival is held on January 17.

 


Persimmon (Kaki)-trees in late autumn

This season of late autumn, it is the scenery of persimmon trees that commonly found in rural areas of Akita Prefecture.

These are the landscape of nostalgic late autumn hometown.

 


Dakedai Nature Observation Educational Forest (Fujisato-town,Akita)

Famous for its huge rock and beech forest insects moss “Dakedai nature education forests". In about 12ha of beech virgin forest, has been followed by a sidewalk to sew the giant trees and boulders, it is one of the few natural observation forests that can pseudo experience of the region, which is registered in the World Heritage Site of Shirakami-Sanchi (off-limits).

 


Mototaki  Underflow (Nikaho-city,Akita)

The infiltrated water, falling from a 30 meter-wide rock wall, provides refreshing air. The contrast between the vivid green of the moss-covered slope and vibrant white of the spraying waters creates a therapeutic breeze to soothe the soul.

 


 

Komatakyo (Kitaakita-city,Akita)

Komatakyo is a valley in the Akita Prefecture Kitaakita Moriyoshi. Refers to the whole area of Komat-river upstream of the dam Moriyoshi (Taihei Lake), is the total length of about 6km. It is a scenic spot of Akita Prefecture, untouched virgin forest remains, we can see a myriad of waterfalls and deep valleys. This area is referred to as the last unexplored region in Akita Prefecture. In particular, “Sankainotaki = the third floor of the waterfall" is a highlight. The waterfall at 20m, is a scenic spot that torrent that flows down divided into three stages flows between the rocks.

 


 

Akita Kurikoma

(Higashi Naruse - Akita)

Kurikoma is a spectacular mountain rising on the border of Iwate, Miyagi, and  Akita. Hot springs are dotted along the mountain foot. The beech trees and the colorful autumn leaves create a marvelous landscape which attracts hikers and hot-spring lovers from all over Japan.

Source: A Tour of Akita(Akita prefecture)

 


 

Oyasukyo Gorge Hot Spring

(Yuzawa - Akita)

Hot eater and steam spouts vigorously from springs of the huge gorge which is itself 60m in depth.
Source: Akita through the Seasons (Akita prefecture)

 


 

"Temple cluster-amaryllis are blooming” (Kitakami-city,Iwate)

The precincts of Nyoirin temple (Kitakami-city,Iwate), is in bloom a lot of cluster-amaryllis. In the Tohoku region, there's no place is in bloom so many of cluster-amaryllis.

Blooming stunning cluster-amaryllis is in harmony with the surrounding landscape.

There are a lot of graves along the slopes of the temple, are red cluster-amaryllis planted until towards the top of the tomb.

Is on top of the slope is the main hall of Nyoirin temple. In the equinoctial week, curtain of five colors had been stretched to the temple.

 


 

Ouchijuku (Shimogo,Fukushima)

Ouchijuku is a small isolated village nestled in the mountains of southwestern Fukushima Prefecture. This village was one of the post towns established under the post station system during the Edo Period and its well-preserved streets prompted its designation as an Important Preservation District for a Group of Historic Buildings in 1981.

The road that used to run through this village was called the Shimotsuke Kaido Route or the Aizu Nishi Kaido Route, and was an important road connecting Aizuwakamatsu and Imaichi, a post town on the Nikko Kaido Route. This road was frequented by many travelers as well as by the processions of feudal lords who had to travel to and from Edo periodically because of the Sankin Kotai system devised by the Tokugawa Shogunate.

They rested and relieved their fatigue from traveling in this village. The streetscape makes the visitor feel as if they have slipped back through time to the Edo Period, giving a reminder of things that people today have almost forgotten.

 


 

”Umezawa Sasara” at Kimpo shrine (Tazawako,Semboku-city, Akita)

Sasara is another name for Shishimai (the lion dance).

A regional variation of Japanese traditional dance, Shishimai. In Semboku area it is called Sasara-mai (dance) after the simple woodpiece instruments (called Sasara) which are used in the dance.

It dates back to the time when the Satake Clan was moved from Mito to Akita, which is more than 400 years ago. 

Dancers performed along the way for the Lord Yoshinobu Satake moving to his new land, and it is said that these dancers settled down in Akita, and formed the Sasara dance.

It is now regarded as one of the Bon festival events, and is a dance for the spirits of ancestors and the newly dead as well as to wish for rich harvest.

 


 

”Umezawa Sasara” at Tensho Temple (Tazawako,Semboku-city, Akita)

 


 

Akada Buddha Festival (Yurihonjo-city, Akita)

On both days of August 21 and 22, "Akada Buddha Festival" was performed in the Yurihonjo-city Akada, local residents prayed for bumper crops and good health. "Akada of Buddha Festival" is a celebration of the coalescence of God and Buddha. This festival has been designated as intangible folk cultural asset of Akita Prefecture.

It is told that the "Zezan Zen priest" (1732~1811) who opened Akada's "Chokoku temple" began the festival. There is a history of more than 200 years.

On August 21, Avalokitesvara image which is the alter ego of put on the "Mikoshi (portable shrine)" of  "Akada of Buddha" was taken to the "Shinnmei shrine". And, "Mikoshi" in the next day to return to the "Chokoku Temple". In Japan, even after the Meiji era that advanced gods isolation, this festival is it's unusual existence since leaving the format of the coalescence of God and Buddha.

On August 22, configured parade 200 people were starting from the "Shinmei shrine". They play  "Mikoshi" and "Noborihata(Flag)". And, in the middle of the march, they showed the lion dance. In addition, they are dancers wearing the face of the "Droll fellow" or "Moonfaced" was waging a "Shagiri" to show a humorous dance. The parade was cruising about 700 meters up to "Chokoku temple".

Finally, the parade was around the periphery of the Hall of the Great Buddha of the temple three times. And they were enshrined the "Mikoshi" that contains the Kannon Bodhisattva to Hall of the Great Buddha.

 

 


 

Kyuhan-sai (Yurihonjo City, Akita)

“Kyuhan-sai” (old clan festival) is a festival designated as a Yurihonjo City Intangible Cultural Heritage and is reminiscent of the days under the control of former Kameda Clan. As part of the festival, Kameda Grand Kagura (Shinto music and dance) and Kameda Teodori Dance parade through the streets. In the Kameda area, many temples and shrines, such as Ryumonji, Myokeiji and Kumano-jinja, still maintain the feel of the clan governing days.  

Source: Yurihonjo City Tourist Association

 


 

Aomori Nebuta Festival
(Aomori-city, Aomori)

Recognized as one of Japan’s Three Big Fire Festivals, the Aomori Nebuta Festival is renowned internationally and is designated as a significant intangible folk cultural asset of Japan.

During the festival, more than twenty large nebutas – large lantern floats decorated with human figures – are wheeled along the parade route in the city of Aomori. Ahead of each float, Nebuta dancers called haneto dance wildly to the hayashi music of the Nebuta Festival,making the summer night festival lively and exciting. The fantastic view of lantern-lit floats and the dancers’ shouts of “rasse rasse” are overwhelming. It certainly is a genuine fire festival of Japan.

The Aomori Nebuta Festival attracts as many as 3 million tourists a year.

A story goes that the Aomori Nebuta Festival originates in the purification rite of toro-nagashi (the placement of lantern offerings on the water), performed during the Tanabata Festival (the Star Festival of July 7) at many places in Japan. Some documents describe the first Nebuta as a giant lantern 360 cm on each sides that was created in the Muromachi era by the feudal lord Tsugaru Tamenobu to surprise people in Kyoto during the Lantern Festival, an event to welcome the spirits of departed ancestors. 

Source: Aomori Tourism and Convention Association

 


 

Dedication of Kanto
(paper lanterns)

Kanto(paper lanterns) is typical festival of summer of Akita. Kanto is the festival performed by praying for a bumper crop. The row of a paper lantern is expressing the form of an ear of rice.

This festival is held for four days early in August every year. In order to see this festival, hundreds of thousands of spectators come to Akita from the whole country. A role of Kanto festival of the tourist industry increased. However, I met with the traditional and old-fashioned Kanto.

I like the festival dedicated to a shrine compared with the tourist industry. Dedication was performed in the Hie Hachiman shrine in Yabase, Akita-city.

 


 

The open-air Japanese tea ceremony

The annual "Sensyu tea party" was held in the Sensyu park in Akita, and the people who visited enjoyed tea under the blue sky. The purpose of the "Sensyu tea party" is to get the culture of Japanese tea to be familiar with many people.

There are a lot of schools in the tea ceremony. Eight schools prepared the tea ceremony in the open space of the Sensyu park. And the Lord provided the person who visited with tea, explaining the origin, manners, etc. of each school. Signs that the women of a kimono figure blend tea are the beauty of Japanese culture. 

The act of making a tea is called “Temae” Nodate is an open-air tea ceremony in which people make and enjoy green tea or powdered green tea. Even in the direction which does not know the manners of the tea ceremony, if a ticket is purchased, we can receive tea and Japanese sweets by the tea ceremony of a favorite school. 

Confections are also an integral part of sado to bring out a better flavor of tea. Beautiful confectionery that brings you a feeling of the season adds spice to tea ceremony. Many people visited in the park and they enjoyed the culture of traditional tea.

The tea ceremony is a traditional Japanese culture. It is not only the way of serving or drinking tea but composite art including fine arts, craftwork, flower arrangement, architecture, landscape gardening, cooking and others. Learning the tea ceremony is considered a part of etiquette and mental training.

 


 

Gono Line (Akita-Aomori pref.)

The Gono Line is a railway line in Japan linking Higashi-Noshiro Station in Akita Prefecture with Kawabe Station in Aomori Prefecture, in the northern Tohoku region of Honshu. The line stretches 147.2 km along the Sea of Japan coast with a total of 43 stations. The Gonō Line is operated by East Japan Railway Company (JR East).

Gono line is always located in a higher rank in the ranking of a local line to ride on in Japan. 

There is a secret of popularity in running about 60 percent between the whole division leisurely along the scenic Sea of Japan. 

The Sea of Japan during winter where it snows incessantly becomes a picture, and the people of a trip lover also appreciate the Sea of Japan during summer also as that of a deep-blue sky. 

Gono Line parts from Oou Line from Higashi-Noshiro Station in Akita Prefecture, and goes along the Sea of Japan north. 

Then, a train passes through the west side in Shirakami mountain range designated as world heritage. And a train joins Oou Line again at Kawabe  Station in Aomori Prefecture. The operation interval of a train is about one in 2 to 3 hours. 

Gono Line is the single track between the whole division, and is whole-line non-electrification. 

Although there is an image called the rough sea which whirls to the wind which blows violently in the Sea of Japan during winter, there are also many quiet days and the Sea of Japan during summer. 

The seashore where the sands where ripples come in are on the railway, and strange rocks and bizarre stones stand in a row appears. A small fishing port can be seen. It is the scenery from a train window with much change. The trip of the train which runs leisurely while looking at the scene which changes one after another gives us the highest healing time.

 


 

Mt. Chokai
(Yurihonjo city / Nikaho city, Akita)

Mt. Chokai(Yurihonjo city/Nikaho city,Akita)

At 2,236 meters, Mt. Chokai is the second highest mountain in the Tohoku region of Japan.

The independent mountaintop is only 15km from the beach.When the influence of the warm currents of Tsushima, the vegetation is different on the east and west sides of the mountain, and so are the climbing routes. 

The flower fields also spectacular.

Among the diversity of the nation's mountains, this type of isolated volcano peak is very unusual, especially with its varied and scenic surroundings, including seashore, flat land, rivers, highlands, marshlands and mountains, all condensed into one area. 

With scattered fountain heads, swamps and waterfalls derived from the abundant beeches and Japanese Oaks, the attraction is the depth of the mountain that you cannot imagine the beautiful view. 

Because of its (roughly) symmetrical shape and massive size, it is also known as Dewa no Fuji or by Akita natives as Akita Fuji. Mount Chokai is regarded as sacred by followers of the Shugendo branch of Shinto and is popular with hikers.

 


 

The hydrangea of Unsho-temple(Oga-city, Akita)

The hydrangea of Unsho-temple of Kitaura Oga-city  greets best time to see, and are dyeing graceful blue the circumference of the precincts of the temple.

About 1000 roots of hydrangeas planted in along about 100-meter approach to the temple are brilliant. Mr. Shuun Konaka of the vice-chief priest of the temple began to plant hydrangea about ten years before. There was only one root of hydrangea at the beginning. However, the vice-chief priest thought that he would plant many flowers of  hydrangea.

Then, parishioners and neighboring residents will be charmed by the beauty of the flower of  hydrangea. And he continued planting  hydrangea over ten years. As a result, in recent years, Unsho-temple came to be called an aliass "Temple of Hydrangea". And many people come to visit in the flowering period.

By fine day continuing from May to June this year, since it was high-temperature,hydrangea began to bloom from the middle about one week earlier than an ordinary year of June.

Although there are various colors in hydrangea, all of the hydrangea of this temple are blue systems. People are enjoying the graceful light blue flowers. Temple is located on the heights which can desire  Kitaura fishing port facing the Sea of Japan.

 


 

Komachi Festival

"Komachi festival" which recalls the "Ono no Komachi" who was the famous poet of the Heian period. The festival is held the second Sunday of June, when the fragrance of peony flowers fills the air.

In remembrance of the Heian period's female poet "Ono no Komachi" seven young Komachi women chosen from among citizens, recite and dedicate Komachi's 31-syllable waka poems to Komachido.

The outline of "Ono no Komachi" ’s tradition Yuzawa-city, Ogachi-cho Akita is called the "Ono no Komachi's birth and end place. The historic relics of many traditions about her are left behind around Yuzawa Ogachi-cho. However, about the most, there is no corroboration only by being transmitted as tradition. She is famous also as one of the world 3 major beauties. And she had a talent very excellent as a poet. Her activity period is considered to be A.D. 834 - 868. ”Komachi” is also the nickname of the Shinkansen which runs Akita-Tokyo. The nickname is based on the image of graceful "Ono no Komachi".

 


 

Karpfenfahnen und Kirschblüten


SL "Galaxy"

The tourist train SL ”Galaxy" of the steam locomotive began operation in the current fiscal year. This train started in JR Kamaishi Line (Hanamaki - Kamaishi) in Iwate Prefecture last year to support revival of the Great East Japan Earthquake.

The common name "glasses bridge" near Miyamori Station is one of the photography spots. Railroad fans of large number of people gathered for photography of the brave figure of SL. A "glasses bridge" is a bridge of National Route 283 and JR Kamaishi Line (Galaxy dream line) over the Miyamori river. A semicircle arch-like bridge pier is 20 m in height, and is 107 m in full length.

The fairy tale "Night of the Milky Way Railway" of Kenji Miyazawa (1896-1933) born in Iwate is called model of Kamaishi Line. The appearance design of the coach makes the keynote blue which imagined the night sky. The constellation and animal which appear in a fairy tale "Night of the Milky Way Railway" are drawn on the coach as a symbol.

The exterior of the coach is the gradation using the tone of concentration different, respectively for every vehicles. Change of color is expressing "the situation of the sky in which the day breaks and which changes to the morning."The tip of top vehicles is bright blue. A blue color tone becomes deep gradually. And the last vehicles are navy blue colors.

 


 

The Oga peninsula seashore in spring

Oga is Akita's famous tourist resort. The Oga Peninsula is a rugged peninsula which projects west into the Sea of Japan from the coast of Akita in northern Honshu, the main island of Japan. The landscape resulting from the erosion of Sea of Japan and volcanic activity is full of variety and overwhelming with its line of cliffs and bizarre rock formations on the west coast as well as the crater lakes made by volcanic eruption. Since a long winter passed, the sea in Oga has also changed to spring blue. Oga peninsula is famous for the traditional festival of Namahage.

 


 

The spring flowers in the Oga peninsula

The Oga peninsula is my hometown. I visit Oga for a year repeatedly. In order to meet a seasonal flower In the Oga peninsula, flowers begin to bloom all at once in spring. The flowers are full of the vitality. About 1000 kinds of plants are growing in the Oga peninsula. I admire their (ladies) beauty.

 


 

"Hina-matsuri (the Doll's Festival)"

in Kakunodate (Senboku-city, Akita)

Kakunodate is an old castle town located on the northern part of the Senboku Plain.

Located along the banks of the Tamagawa and Hinokinaigawa Rivers and cradled on three sides by mountains, this town is known both for its historic samurai mansions and the beautiful blossoming cherry trees that line the streets. Popular with tourists from all over the world, it has an atmosphere truly appropriate to its nickname of “the Little Kyoto.”

In Kakunodate,  "Hina-matsuri (the Doll's Festival)" are exhibited at 30 or more places. 

I introduce "Hina-matsuri" of Ando's house. 

Here, I explain the Girl's Festival. 

"Hina-matsuri"  is held on March 3rd.

It's also called "the Girls' Festival" because it's to wish for girls' growth and happiness. People display a set of dolls in beautiful ancient court costumes of the Heian era. A set includes dairi-bina (the Emperor and Empress), three kanjo (court ladies), five court musicians, two ministers, and three servants.

It was believed that the dolls protected people from sickness or ill-fortune.

"Hina-matsuri" of Ando's house are brilliant. 

From now on, I will introduce. 

The explanation about Ando's house is as follows. 

Ando House (Ando Jyozo)

A miso and soy sauce brewery founded in 1853. The brick built storehouse and Japanese style room (constructed in 1891) are said to be the oldest in Tohoku Japan.

Delivers traditional flavors today 

The family has lived in Kakunodate as a landlord since Kyoho Era (1716-1736)and made miso and soy sauce with a portion of rice paid as rent as the ingredient.

Tremendous efforts were required at first in order to acquire manufacturing technique and delivery of the family tradition, striving to improve the quality by occasionally visiting a distant Hitachi region (current Ibaraki Prefecture) in pursuit of research.

The wooden signage at the store front "Raw Soy Sauce from Hitachi" is a vestige of the old time.

Before the war, the family as a landlord manufactured miso and soy sauce as a side business while running a pawnshop and tobacco wholesaling  business in 16 towns and villages in Senboku country.

With the coming of emancipation of farming land and monopoly systems, we are specialized in manufacturing of miso, soy sauce and pickles today maintaining our long family traditional flavor.

Brick warehouse "Kura" 

Stands strong in flames

Hiyoke Square divides Kakunodate into Bukemachi(Uchimachi) where old samurai residences existed and Chouninmachi(Tomachi) where common citizens lived. Tomachi crowded by wooden stores suffered too often from fires. In 1882, 260 buildings were burned down by the fire that started in Shimonakamachi, and our house was no exception.

The current buldings were constructed between 1882 and 1891. Given through consideration of the warehouse design to combat potential fires, our guest room was also built with bricks that were quite plush at that time. 

A hundred years ago, where so many bricks came from is still unknown, however it is believed that these bricks were made at Shiraiwa Kiln. These bricks are adhered with plaster but no major repair has been done till today.

 


 

Kasafuku - Hanging Hina-matsuri Ornaments

Snow monster - hoarfrosts - Kitaakita City, Akita

The "Sanno club" in Sakata-city, Yamagata is the high-class Japanese-style restaurant built in 1895. Kasafuku is exhibited in this old wooden building.

Kasafuku is decorated with dolls for the Girls' Festival. The Girl's Festival is on March 3. "Kasa" means an umbrella and "Fuku" is happy meaning. Kasafuku is the culture of the people who continue from the late Edo period. The purpose of Kasafuku is for a child's healthy growth and good health, and prosperity in business.

999 decoration is hung by big Kasafuku. There are 100 or more kinds of decorations.And a meaning exists in each of decorations. Various decorations are loaded with the fortunate wish. Kasafuku has continued being made from a mother to child,from a child to grandchild. With the spring visit, exhibition of Kasafuku is held gaily.

 


 

Mt. Moriyoshi/ Juhyo

Snow monster - hoarfrosts - Kitaakita City, Akita

The trees of Mt.Moriyoshi transform into a horde of hoarfrost –and-snow “monster” standing guard all over the snow-covered mountains.These unique and somewhat scary shapes are created when mist and water vapor carried by seasonal winds freeze the needles of conifers such as Aomori pines, and have earned the nickname “snow monsters”. Every winter these incredible snow monsters appear and are fondly thought of as Mt.Moriyoshi’s statues.

 


 

Origins of Dainichido

Legend of Damburi Choja (Dragonfly Millionaire)

Once upon a time, a poor young couple in Azukizawa, Hachimantai, had a New Year’s dream in which an old man who called himself “Dainichi God” told them, “Go upstream and you will be rewarded with happiness.”

So on the second day of the New Year, they went upstream and moved to a village called Hiramata.

One day, while working hard in the fields, they fell into a doze. Then a damburi, or dragonfly, came flying to the husband, touched his lip with its tail, and flew away; this went on several times. While this was happening, the husband had a dream of drinking excellent sake. The couple saw this as a message from Dainichi God, and followed the dragonfly. They found a spring gushing out from between rocks, to their  surprise, it was the most delicious sake they had ever tasted. It was, in fact, a nectar of longevity and healing that could cure any malady.

The couple had been childless, but they prayed to Dainichi God, and were blessed with a lovely baby girl as well as wealth and happiness.

Accompanied by their daughter who had grown into a beautiful young woman, the couple visited the capital to be recognized as a choja, or a family of wealth, bringing hordes of treasure with them. Keitai, the emperor of the time, conferred the title “Damburi Choja” upon the couple, and made the daughter his Empress. She was renamed Princess Kissho.

Damburi Choja returned home, and held a fest, inviting their neighbors, to celebrate the conferment of their new title. The Momioshi Dance was performed to entertain the guests.

Time passed and the Choja couple passed away. Kissho Princess wished to return home and console the spirits of her parents. To honor her wish,

The Emperor built Ohirumemuchi Shrine for Dainichi God whom her parents worshipped.

Later, when Princess Kissho passed away, she was buried at Kisshoin Temple, located near Ohirumemuchi Shrine. The ginkgo branch which was brought from the capital was planted in the temple precincts, and grew into a large tree.

Origins

Dainichido Bugaku Dance is said to have its origins in the dances performed by artists who accompanied the high priest Gyoki, who was sent from the capital in 718 on a mission to revive Dainichido. The artists taught the dances to the local of Ozato, Azukizawa, Nagamine, and Tainai, allotting each region different programs. Each region was given ceremonial rice fields, and certain villagers were assigned to be in charge of organizing the dances.

Designated as a national important intangible folk-cultural property in 1976.

Inscribed on the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage list in 2010.

The above statement is based on the data of the Kazuno issue. 

Around sunrise, the dancers of the four regions meet at Komagata  Shrine; a greeting dance is then performed.

 


 

Shirakami-Sanchi: Dakedai natural observation educational forest (Fujisato Town)

Shirakami-Sanchi is a UNESCO World Heritage Site in northern Honshu, Japan. The mountains were designated as a World Natural Heritage site in 1993. A forest of beech trees formed about 8,000 years ago covers the Shirakami Mountains. This mountainous, unspoiled expanse of virgin forest straddles both Akita and Aomori Prefectures.

The symbol of this area is a 400-year-old beech tree. The forest of a photograph is in the foot in Shirakami mountain range. It is called Dakedai natural observation educational forest. Here, we can feel the situation of deep Shiragami natural world heritage.

 


 

Kanazawa city
(Ishikawa Prefecture)

Kanazawa, the biggest city in the Hokuriku region has a population of 460,000, and is a castle town that was ruled over by the Maeda family for three centuries after the first lord Toshiie Maeda entered Kanazawa Castle in 1583.

The development of its special products like rice, sake, sweets, etc. was due to its temperate and rainy climate with heavy snow in winter

The city is surrounded by the Japan Alps, Hakusan National Park and Noto Peninsula National Park. Two rivers run through the city; the Sai is said to be a lively masculine river and the Asano to be a sweet, feminine river. Such a natural background of great beauty gives the city a relaxed feeling.

Since the Kaga Clan invited many artists and craftsmen to this area, it achieved a high level of craftsmanship that continues to flourish to this day.

The buildings that gave birth to these traditions stand tranquilly and blend in with the modern atmosphere in Kanazawa to create a charming ancient castle town.

Reference:  Formal homepage ”Kanazwa city”

 


 

SL appears in northern Akita!

"SL Akita" was operated during the after Akita destination campaign in Akita ー Higashi-Noshiro. The steam locomotive used for "SL Akita" is C6120 restored three years ago.

C61 type steam locomotive made from 1949 pulled the six old model coaches. Many railroad fans were excited by the figure a steam locomotive runs. Branch Manager JR Akita greeted saying "I want you to experience the atmosphere of the railroad of former years and to enjoy a trip fully.”

 


 

The branch school of recollections

(Semboku city, Akita)

The wooden school building of the elementary school which was closed down is exhibited near Tazawa lake.

It is the school building which was closed down 1974.

A schoolyard and a classroom are left behind with that time and a nostalgic atmosphere is drifting.

Textbooks of those days, stationery, etc. are exhibited in the school building.

 


 

Nishimonai Bon Dance

(Ugo Town, Akita)

The traditional event ”Nishimonai Bon Dance" (country specification significant intangible folk cultural asset) of Ugo Town was performed from August 16 to the 18th. 

This is a famous Bon festival dance and is one of the three Japanese major Bon festival dances. 

This unique dance where the participants do not show their faces is fascinating and mysterious. The harmony of the energetic traditional music and the graceful dance is dazzling.

The adult who wore vivid end sewing clothes and the yukata of indigo dyeing joined as night advanced. 

The person of a hood or a broad-brimmed hat woven of rushes or rice straw whom it associates with the dead was compared with the bonfire. 

And a visionary atmosphere of the dance drifted. 

The pliant dance continued till midnight according to the lively folk song which is tinged with brave musical accompaniment or a pity tone.

 


 

Mikoshi no Takiabi

(Happo Town, Akita)

Men dressed in white parade throughout the town, carrying the mikoshi (said to be the house of the kami of the shrine) on their shoulders.

"The mikoshi is exposed to a waterfall" of the strange festival which the men who shouldered the mikoshi thrust into a waterfall was performed in the precincts of the shrine in Happo-town on August 1.

 A long time ago, the men who paraded on the shoulder cannot finish bearing the mikoshi to a festival at too much heat, and having jumped into the waterfall of the shrine back hand is considered as the origin.

 


 

Kanto Festival Akita-City

Kanto Festival is the summer festival which best represents "Rice-producing Akita.”

Lanterns that symbolize ears of rice are lit and hung on 270 bamboo poles, called Kanto, during the four-day festival.

The Kanto are skillfully carried and manipulated by men who parade among excited spectators as this heroic festival reaches its peak.(August 3 -6)

Kanto poles which represent ears of rice with paper lanterns imitating straw rice bags emit bright shining light.

The Kanto lantern pole weights approximately 50kg and is almost 15m tall.

The scene of 270 Kanto lantern poles floating in the night sky and the skilled maneuvers of the performers who carefully balance the poles in their palms, forehead, shoulders and waists are magnificent.

For a moment everything stands still and then, with the signal of echoing sound of the bamboo flutes 270 Kanto poles are risen at the same time.

The Festival has begun. In the swirl of cheering shouts, musical accompaniment, spectators' shouts of admiration and encouragement, performers' attention is concentrated to the Shinto offering of cut paper (Gohei) which is placed at the very top of the 15 meters high bamboo pole - the Kanto.

The true charm of the Kanto festival is the show of the performers - simultaneously checking the slightest move of the Gohei that shows the direction of the wind and the tiniest unbalance, and at the same time managing freely the Kanto pole on their foreheads and lower backs.

The shape of the whole Kanto can be compared to that of the ear of rice, all together 46 lanterns, imitating the straw bags of rice, swing at the slightest move.

Reference :An introductory essay is based on sightseeing pamphlets, such as Akita Prefecture and Akita city

 


 

Reflecting water of the Semboku plains

(Daisen city, Akita)

In late May, rice fields of the Semboku plains Akita  is in a state of reflecting water. For rice planting, water's are filled in rice fields. Seen from a high altitude, farmhouses surrounded by forest are floating in the water.

Paddy water is evaporated by the heat and light of the sun. Therefore, the scenery appears to hazy. At six o'clock in the evening, the Semboku plains shining reflecting the sunset. The Semboku plain's rice-producing area of the largest in Akita Prefecture.

In rice fields, rice planting work is being actively carried out.

 


 

Chiba Family Residence

(Tono-city, Iwate)

Chiba Family Residence is a historic building located in  Tono-city, Iwate Prefecture.

This house is known as building typical farmer is a building linked to the plane L-shaped residence and a stable endemic of the Edo era of "bent house". In the late Edo period, is the residence of the large area of 540m ² in the plain of stone wall on which was built on the slope land. 25 people and 20 horses had been living in the house of this door.

Main house is a thatched, stable part of the gambrel structure protrudes in front of the living room of the hipped structure, is a plan of the L-shaped as a whole. There are six rooms on the east side is the living room section, there is a dirt floor and the kitchen on the west side. There is a second floor in a part of the east side. Protruding portion was originally the stables.

Homestead has been groomed built a stone wall on the inclined surface of the south-facing. The house, accessory building is left well. In addition, it is stored as well residence of wealthy farmer. Designated as a nationally important cultural property

 


 

Funaoka Cherry blossom festival

(Shibata town,Miyagi)

Funaoka Castle Grounds, in Shibata town in Miyagi Prefecture, is famous for its cherry blossom.

This park is famous for its abundant cherry trees, great view of '1000 cherry trees at a glance' along Shiroishi River.

 


 

The Sakura Festival of Kakunodate

(Senboku CIty, Akita)

A faint red tinge has come to the tips of the flowering cherry trees. It is the sign that spring has come at long last to Kakunodate. Blossoms from weeping cherry trees drape gracefully down over the old samurai district and form an elegant tunnel of branches along the riverside, filling the town with a sweet, delicate pink cloud; the beginning of a bright new season.

Three-hundred fifty years ago, a noble lady from Kyoto brought as part of her dowry three saplings. From those humble beginnings many years have passed, and those saplings have become the famous Weeping Cherries of Kakunodate. Delicate pink blossoms shine against the black boards of samurai mansion walls, making the town a study of elegant contrasts. The Hinokinaigawa River’s Bank of Somei Yoshino Trees.

The river that runs through the town is lined with cherry trees, the pride of the district. When one imagines Japanese cherry trees, the Somei Yoshino are the first image to spring to mind. This bank began as a planting to commemorate the birth of a new imperial heir in 1934. Now they form a tunnel of cherry blossoms two kilometers in length, nationally recognized as a place of outstanding beauty. When in full bloom the petals cover the branches, given the impression of being completely enveloped in flowers.

Reference: KAKUNODATE TOURIST ASSOCIATION

 


 

Senshu Park

(Akita city, Akita)

The remains of Kubota Castle,built by the affluent Satake Clan, is the main attractions of Senshu Park. Visitors can enjoying strolling the many paths and observing various flowers throughout the year.
Senshu park is  famous park of cherry blossom viewing.Cherry trees of 800 or more are planted.
 
Reference: Akita Convention & Visitors Bureau

 


 

Hirosaki Cherry Blossom Festival

(Hirosaki City, Aomori)

The former castle site is home to around 2,600 ornamental cherry trees, which are famous throughout Japan. The best known variety is somei-yoshino. When the cherry trees are in full blossom the park is indescribably beautiful, especially at night when the castle site buildings and trees are illuminated.

Shower of blossom cherry blossom dancing in the wind. "Raft of flower" that flows petals of the cherry trees in it floating in the water was observed. Petals scattered in the moat, it's carpet of pink petals.

The construction of Hirosaki Castle was begun in 1603 by the first Tsugaru lord,Tamenobu, and was completed in 1611 by the second lord, Nobihira. The 49.2ha site, which is 10 times larger than Tokyo Dome, is surrounded by triple moats and earthworks and consists of 6 quarters. Reference:Hirosaki Tourism And Convention Bureau

 


 

Dogtooth Violet Colony

Nowadays, people will travel some distance to see the delightful woodland flowers known as katakuri, or dog's-tooth violets (Erythronium japonicum).

But Akita Nishiki Area said to have the largest colony of dogtooth violets in Japan. They are found growing naturally in Saimyoji chestnut park. 

From the middle to the end of April, the pretty purple flowers come into bloom. Despite their English name, dog's-tooth violets are not actually violets, but dainty members of the lily family that are sometimes also called "trout lilies" because of their spotted leaves.

 


 

Sashimaki wetlands

Colony of skunk cabbage( Stink Kohl) with pretty white flowers (calyx) which tells the coming of spring. The wetland is surrounded by a large forest alder, thousands of skunk cabbage grow in clusters.

 


 

Karpfenfahnen und Kirschblüten

Die „Karpfenfahnen" - die Koi Nobori - symbolisieren Kraft und Stärke.

Sie werden insbesondere am 05. Mai, dem „Knaben-Tag“ aufgehängt, damit die Knaben so stark werden wie ein Karpfen, der gegen den Strom schwimmen kann.

 


 

Klosterglocken und japanische Trommeln

Ein Bericht von Keiji Yoshida zu unserem 10 jährigen Jubiläum

Östlich von Bonn, nur 30 Minuten mit der Bahn entfernt, liegt die Stadt Siegburg.

Hier in dieser Stadt wurde Engelbert Humperdinck, der Komponist der Oper “Hänsel und Gretel” geboren.

Am Fuße des Turmes der Abtei lausche ich den Glocken, die zur Abendmesse auf den „Berg“ in die Kirche der Abtei Michaelsberg rufen. Der laute Klang der Glocken geht direkt in die Tiefe meines Herzens. Der Ton klingt feierlich. Niemals bevor hatte ich das Gefühl, dass mein Körper von einem solchen Klang eingeschlossen werden könne, der so feierlich ist, und der jeden Mangel an Reue verschwinden lässt. Ich lauschte schon früher dem Ton der Glocken, der durch den Himmel bis in mein Hotelzimmer klang. In diesem Augenblick bin ich tief beeindruckt. Es gibt mir das Gefühl, der großartige Klang der Glocken, dem ich direkt unterhalb des Turmes lausche, brächte den ganzen Körper zum Schwingen.

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