Japanese Culture Teaching Notes


Tuesday

Seijinski – January 10th

Coming of Age Day

Pictures

Seijinski is a ceremony to celebrate the people who will become 20 years old during the year. During the ceremony, most of the woman wear ‘hurisode’ (long-sleeved kimono) and some men wear ‘hakama’ (pleated skirt-like Japanese garment). They prepare the kimonos about half a year before. Some purchase the kimono, while others rent. Purchase costs about one million yen and rental costs about one hundred and fifty thousand yen.

On the day of the ceremony woman go to beauty salons very early in the morning and have their kimons professionally arranged and their hair done. Then they go to city hall and attend the ceremony. After the ceremony they go to a photo studio. The pictures are called ‘miai-shasin’ (pictures for arranged marriage). That night they enjoy drinking with their old friends as 20 is the official drinking age in Japan.

Seijinski originated in Warabi-city of Saitama prefecture in 1946. In those days Japan was in confusion and collapse due to their defeat during W.W. II. The municipal authorities created Seijinski for the young people to be cheered up. As time went by this party spread all over Japan and is now a National holiday.

Nowadays Seijinski has many problems. In 2001, some men drank too much sake in front of the Naha City Hall in Okinawa prefecture and destroyed the entrance gate which had been set up for the ceremony. Another thing is that the attendant’s behaviors have been getting worse. They talk with their friends during the ceremony or play with their cellular phones. Each city now holds many different ceremonies at separate locations to divide the attendees and try to solve their behavior problems. (Written by my culture student, Ayumi)

Posted by ・Andrea :: 2:24 AM :: 3 Comments:

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The Kokeshi Doll

Of all the native folk toys of Japan, there is perhaps none as familiar as the ‘Kokeshi’, which is to be found in souvenir shops throughout the nation.
They are said to have originated in the Tohoku region (Northeast Japan) in the hands of the lathe-craftsmen who lived a gypsy life in the mountains of that region.
Eventually, in about the middle of the Edo Period, these craftsmen settled down near the many spas that abounded in that region, and began to make bowls and trays to sell to the visitors at the spas.
After a time, they started to make the ‘Kokeshi’, and this, according to one viewpoint, was the beginning of the ‘Kokeshi Doll’.
However there are other possible origins.
One is that they may be related to the household god that had wide belief in the Tohoku region from long in the past.
Another possibility is that they may be a modified version of phallic symbols derived from an ancient sex worship.




At any rate, the ‘Kokeshi’ of today is not so much a religious toy as a toy loved for its simple artistry, so that perhaps there is not a single school girl in Japan who does not have one adorning her desk.

Posted by ・Andrea :: 1:54 AM :: 1 Comments:

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Monday

The Fujieda Daruma



Born of a royal family in a small country in the south of India, Bodhidharma founded Zen Buddhism in the sixth century and introduced it to China. He is said to have sat in meditation of nine years, facing the wall of a room at the Shorinji Temple in China and to have attained spiritual awakening or supreme enlightenment (satori). A tumbler doll representing Bodhidharma sitting in meditation is made of paper-mache, limbless and painted in red. It is made in various sizes, but the Daruma doll of standard size is as large as a water melon. Since this doll recovers its upright position when it is tumbled, it is also called ‘okiagari-kobosho’. It is an embodiment of the proverb that says, ‘If you fall down seven times, get up eight (nana-korobi-yaoki). The Daruma is a popular mascot especially among shop-keepers. Daruma fairs are held mostly at New Year’s time and the Daruma dolls sold at these fairs have no eyes painted on the face. The eyes are put in by the possessor of the doll when he has had his wish realized.

The Fujieda Daruma – From the olden days, Fujieda was officially recognized as a place to stop and rest along the Eastern Sea Road. (This road was the main route that connected the centers of power in Kyoto and Tokyo. These official rest areas became famous for their local products.)
Since the Edo Period (1600-1868), Fujieda Daruma have been a tradition, born with the shop around 170 years ago.
Yakumo Koizumi, who came originally from England and was originally known as Lafcadio Hearn, was a great writer of the Meiji Era. Because he loved the Fujieda Daruma very much, they are often called ‘Yakumo Daruma’ or ‘Otokichi Daruma’ (Its shape is as a pumpkin or oval face).
Distinct features of the Fujieda Daruma include eight written strokes on the left and right of the doll which look like side locks.
The tradition of hand making these Daruma, or other paper-mache masks by one is closely guarded.

Posted by ・Andrea :: 4:20 PM :: 0 Comments:

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