長崎くんちNagasaki Kunchi

Kunchi (くんち), also  or Nagasaki Okunchi (長崎おくんち), is the most famous festival in Nagasaki, Japan. It began as a celebration of autumn harvests in the late 16th century and became a shrine festival when Suwa Shrine was founded in 1642. Another purpose was to check for hidden Christians after the ban on Christianity. This is…

二本松市 Nihonmatsu Chochin Festival

The Nihon-matsu Chochin (Lantern) Festival in Nihon-matsu, Fukushima is the most important festival held at Nihon-matsu Shrine and is said to have started approximately 360 years ago. It is held every year from October 4th to the 6th. Seven Taiko drum floats are released from seven towns, loaded with approximately 300 lighted paper lanterns each,…

ずいき祭 Zuiki Matsuri Festival

Autumn harvest festival with unique Mikoshi decorated with vegetables Established in 947, Kitano Tenmangu Shrine enshrines Sugawara Michizane who was a scholar, litterateur and politician in the beginning of Heian Era (lived from 845 to 903). It is the headquarter of more than 12,000 Tenmangu, shrines dedicated to Sugawara Michizane’s spirit, all over Japan and…

芸者 Geisha

Geisha (芸者) are traditional Japanese female entertainers who act as hostesses. Their skills include performing various arts such as classical music, dance, games, and conversation, traditionally to entertain male customers, but also female customers today. Geisha like all Japanese nouns, has no distinct singular or plural variants. The word consists of two kanji, 芸 (gei)…

flowers of chrysanthemum

朝茶飲む 僧静かなり 菊の花 Asacha nomu     So shizuka nari      Kiku no hana   Drinking morning green tea, The monk is calm. The flowers of chrysanthemum. -Matsuo Basho   Art by Tsuchiya Koitsu “Chrysanthemum”

Geiko and Maiko

A maiko (舞妓) is an apprentice geiko (not exactly same as geisha) in Kyoto, western Japan. Their jobs consist of performing songs, dances, and playing the shamisen or the koto for visitors during feasts. Maiko are usually aged 15 to 20 years old and become geiko after learning how to dance the traditional kyomai dances, play…

Hachiman Matsuri at Sakurayama Hachiman Shrine.

The Autumn Hachiman Matsuri, which is held annually on October 9th and 10th prompts the local inhabitants to start their winter preparations. The greatest attractions are the eleven yatai floats which are designated as significant intangible folk cultural assets. *Their splendid motifs produced by the skills of the master artisans called Hida no Takumi are…

Kōdō “way of fragrance”

History: According to legend, agarwood (aloeswood) first came to Japan when a log of incense wood drifted ashore on Awaji island in the third year of Empress Suiko’s reign (595 CE). People who found the incense wood noticed that the wood smelled marvelous when they put it near a fire. Then they presented the wood…

神田紺屋町 Kanda konya-chō

The Dyers’ Quarter in Kanda Kanji on first two white-blue fabrics reads “sakana” and is a reference to the publisher Sakanaya Eikichi, last two white-blue fabrics contain Hiroshige’s monogram.