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Archive for the ‘Japanese culture & customs’ Category

The typhoon is coming here in Japan, so all is damp, but it is cool and confortable today for this time.

Japanese people love several things that are appropriate for the time of year. The japanese -style confectioneries are one of them.

Today, I will introduce some of them for June.

スクリーンショット 2013-06-07 13.31.58This is Namafu-Manju wrapped with a bamboo grass. It’ll taste better if you chill it in the refrigerator.

Manju is a Japanese steamed bun stuffed with red bean paste, and Namafu is a food made of wheat gluten.

It is seasonal specialty thing…hope you can eat it someday!]

take care!

 

 

 

 

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The rainy reason here in Japan…2013

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Speaking of  the flower in the rainy season, most of  Japanese people think “hydrangea”.  Do you know them?

They’re originally from Asia. Beautiful, aren’t they?  The colors and shapes are several…Blue, pink, purple, white, pale-green, and so on.

Today, I will introduce some Japanese things which the motifs are “hydrangea”.

these are the Japanese-style confectioneries and cups for the Japanese tea ceremony.

The confectioneries are made from jelly, sweet bean paste, and so on. The tastes are really good. I love them. I hope you can try them someday!

 

 

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It has been a long time since I went to a Japanese tea ceremony.

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Today’s interior decoration for the ceremony ; a hanging scroll, the Flowers of the season, and the Japanese-style confectionery.

 

 

 

 

 

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Also, I had dishes coming before the tea ceremony, and they are the special dishes only for the ceremony. It is called  “Kaisei Ryori” or “Chakaiseki”. The food amounts on the each plates are pretty small, but the food arrangements and the plates are really beautiful.

Of course, the tastes are delicious, too!

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Feb. 3th is a day of “Setsubun” in japan.

“Setsubun” literally means “division of seasons” and this day was the end of winter. On the evening of this day, people throw roasted soybeans inside and outside their houses with a cry of “Oniwa-soto, Fukuwa-uchi!” meaning “Devils out! Good luck fortune in!”. As the beans are thrown, it is believed good luck is invited in and bad luck is driven away. It is also customary to eat as many roasted beans as one’s age. It is a kind of charm against ill luck.

During Setsubun, children can throw roasted beans about the house to ward off evil spirits and other misfortune. In some families, an adult might put on a devil’s mask and approach the children. The devil is pelted with beans until he leaves.

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Also, especially in western japan( nowadays eastern japan too), people eat “Ewho-maki” means “Fortune Sushi Roll”. The way of eating is…

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1, Face the lucky direction of the year( 2013 is south south east)

2, Eat an entire Sushi Rolll without stopping.  You shouldn’t speak until you are finishing with the sushi. It is said tat the good fortune will be gone if you speak.

That’s it! Then, you get the year’s fortune!

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the ceremony of the bean throwing at the Buddhist temple

I have heard there are many customs similar to this japanese setsubun all over the world… how about your country’s?

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Setsubun at the Heian Shrine in Kyoto

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Smash the rice cake!, and just eat it!…”Kagami-Biraki”

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January 11 is known as kagami biraki literally opening the mirror.

Before the New Year comes, we decorate a pair of piled round (mirror shape) mochi (rice cake) called kagami mochi (鏡餅).

They are put at toko no ma ;alcove, and/or kami dana; a household Shinto altar, and/or genkan;entrance, and so on to welcome toshi gami sama ;the Year God.

On Jan. 11, they are taken down and cooked and eaten.

It is desirable that we use a hammer not knives or scissors when we broke the rice cake because of being superstitious.

Usually we eat as o zoni; rice cake soup or o shiru ko; weet bean paste soup with rice cake.
Until the third Shogun Iemitsu Tokugawa passed away on April 20, 1651 (lunar calendar), this custom had been held on Jan. 20, but people wanted to avoid the same date (20th) in the Kanto area, they decided to do on 11th, the same date as kura biraki , storehouse opening which merchants practice.

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スクリーンショット 2013-01-11 13.56.22The Festival of Seven Herbs is the long-standing Japanese custom of eating seven-herb rice gruel “nanakusa- kayu in japanese” on January 7th.

The wild herbs of spring, traditionally they are :

1.Water dropwort
2.Shepherd’s purse
3.Cudweed
4.Chickweed
5.Nipplewort
6.Turnip
7.Daikon radish( japanese white radish)

There is considerable variation in the precise ingredients, with common local herbs often being substituted.On the morning of January 7, or the night before, people place the herbs, rice scoop, and/or wooden pestle on the cutting board and, facing the good-luck direction, chant “Before the birds of the continent (China) fly to Japan, let’s get nanakusa” while cutting the herbs into pieces. This chant varies as well.

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The seventh of the first month has been an important Japanese festival since ancient times. The custom of eating nanakusa-gayu on this day, to bring longevity and health, developed in Japan from a similar ancient Chinese custom, intended to ward off evil. Since there is little green at that time of the year, the young green herbs bring color to the table and eating them suits the spirit of the New Year.


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May the New Year bring only good things to you.

I am introducing you some japanese wreaths the New Year’s decorations…

They will be remove out on Jan. 7th.

okazari
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What do you remind  when you see the full moon…???

In Japan, When people used the lunar calendar, the night of the full moon fell on the fifteenth night of each month.

The full moon nights were called jugo-ya, and the full moon seen on the fifteenth night of the eighth month was thought to be the most beautiful full moon of the year.

The full moon at this time of year looks especially beautiful in the clear autumn night sky. This moon is specially called chushu-no-meigetsu, which literally means the mid-autumn full moon.

People traditionally viewed and admired the moon on the fifteenth night of the eighth month in olden times. Even now, many people view and admire the full moon and make offerings to it every year on the night of the full moon in September.

This custom is called “Tsukimi “in Japanese.

The mid-autumn full moon is also called the harvest moon because crops and fruits are harvested from farms at this time of the year. While viewing the moon, people feel thankful to the moon for the year’s harvest and give a feast in celebration of the harvest. In this sense, viewing the moon is a harvest festival. People also pray to the moon for a large rice crop as the rice harvest is just ahead.

There is a custom of offering dumplings, which are called tsukimi-dango in Japanese, and newly harvested crops including taro to the moon on the tsukimi night. Dumplings and crops are usually decorated with silver grass, which is called “Susuki ” in Japanese, or Japanese bush clovers, which are called “Hagi “in Japanese, and then offered to the moon. These offerings represent people’s gratitude and prayers to the moon for the crops of the year.

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The Chrysanthemum Festival (The Choyo Festival):the ninth day of the ninth month according to the lunar calendar

I will introduce a time-honored Japanese custom, but only a few present-day Japanese people know and cerebrate it regardless of its elegance…

the 1st and 4th pictures are the Japanese cakes for this festival in the shape of a chrysanthemum

The ninth day of the ninth month was known as the Choyo Festival or the Chrysanthemum Festival. Chrysanthemums originally came from China, but chrysanthemums and cherry blossoms are both considered typical Japanese flowers. The chrysanthemums were believed to be auspicious flowers denoting longevity and eternal youth, and they were used as medicinal herbs in China. Painters in China and Japan preferred to paint the chrysanthemum, orchid, bamboo, and ume (Japanese plum) flower, which were regarded as the four noble flowers, drawing in India ink. The chrysanthemum is also closely related to the Imperial Family. A chrysanthemum crest is used as the Imperial crest. It is an open chrysanthemum with sixteen complete radiated petals. The Imperial Court used to hold a banquet for chrysanthemum viewing on the day of the Chrysanthemum (Choyo) Festival. Today, chrysanthemum doll exhibitions and chrysanthemum flower shows take place in many places throughout Japan around September 9th.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Have you been to Japan?  If you have, have you been to Nikko Tosho-gu?

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Nikko Tosho-gu is a shrine dedicated to Tokugawa Ieyasu who established Edo Shouguntate. It was constructed in 1617 and further expanded by Tokugawa Iemitsu from 1634, the third shogun. Tokugawa Ieyasu’s remains are entombed here.

Japanese young students go there to study the history by a school excursion. However, except the history, there are many thing to check in Nikko Tosho-gu. Ones of them are sculptures and paintings.

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This sculpture is named “sleeping cat ” by Jingoro Hidari. Jingoro was a very famous master craftsman; sculptor. His masterpieces are so fine that they are said to be able to move when people do not look…The sleeping cat in Nikko Tosho-gu symbolizes the peace and security of nation like a cat always can sleep.

Dragons, Birds, and so on as well.  I hope you can see them once someday.

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