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Newsletter: Delivery Of Japan's Seasonal Tradition

Delivered on January 22, 2014
Delivery Of Japan's Seasonal Tradition: January 2014, Issue 11

Delivery Of Japan's Seasonal Tradition [Issue 11]
January 22, 2014
Japanese Traditional Culture Promotion & Development Organization


1. Seasonal Festival:
Praying for health in the coming year: Kagamibiraki

2. News From JTCO:
New Article Released - Yoshiwa Taiko Odori: Yoshiwa Drum Dance

:: 1. Seasonal Festival

Praying for health in the coming year: Kagamibiraki

In Japan many Gods have been believed the same as Greece and Nordic
countries in the ancient times and India nowdays. Toshigami is the
one who descends to houses at the beginning of the New Year. This
period, "Matsunouchi", starts at the same time after the 1st of
January all over Japan. However, the last date of Matsunouchi
varies; 7th of the January in the Kanto area and 15th in the Kansai
area. Once the Matsunouchi period has passed, Kagamibiraki is held.
The Mochi (rice cakes), that has been decorated since the end of the
year is now eaten.

Kagamibiraki was developed in Japanese Samurai families. Gusokumochi,
decorated Mochi by their armor and helmet, is cleaned and cut into
small pieces to eat as ingredients for Zoni soup. Then the people
in those families opened the box of armor and helmet and prepared
their minds for the first job of the New Year. Mochi can also be
cooked in Oshiruko, which is called Zenzai in the Kansai area.
Oshiruko is a soup with stewed sweetened azuki beans. The recipe of
Zenzai or Oshiruko is diversed, depending on the area. The recipe,
ingredeints and combination of seasonings are so many but the nicest
must be the one which has been eaten since his/her childhood for the
individual person.

As the custom originated in the Samurai families, a knife was
avoided to cut Mochi because it reminds people of "Harakiri.
Instead of using a knife, they chose to break Mochi by hummer or
snap it into pieces by hand. "Biraki" in the word of
"Kagamibiraki" means to open. They also avoided the use of the word
"cut" or "break" for the same reason, and preferred the word that
encourages a better luck.

People wish for the safety of their family and the health over the
year by eating Mochi in the ceremony of Kagamibiraki. People
believed that Mochi give spiritual power after making an offering
for Toshigami. Do you have any similar tradition for the New Year
in your country?

Translation: Hitomi Kochi, reviewed by Hiroko Okamura

:: 2. News From JTCO

New Article Released!

[Traditional Culture]

Yoshiwa Taiko Odori: Yoshiwa Drum Dance (Onomichi, Hiroshima Pref)

This traditional dance takes place at Joudo-ji Temple on July 18th
of Japan's old lunar calendar every even-numbered year of the
western calendar. "Taiko Dance" is designated as an Intangible
Folk Cultural Property by Hiroshima Prefecture.


Translation: Cathrine Newman

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Development Organization (JTCO)- All Rights Reserved.

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