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Newsletter: Delivery Of Japan's Seasonal Tradition

Delivered on March 22, 2014
Delivery Of Japan's Seasonal Tradition [Issue 16] March 22, 2014

Delivery Of Japan's Seasonal Tradition [Issue 16]
March 22, 2014
Japanese Traditional Culture Promotion & Development Organization


1. Seasonal Festival:
Visiting an Inari shrine for better fortune: "Hatsuuma"

2. News From JTCO:
New Article Released - Otani Yaki: Otani Porcelain

:: 1. Seasonal Festival

Visiting an Inari shrine for better fortune: "Hatsuuma"

Alongside the luner calendar, the numeral calendar using sexagenary
cycle imported from China calle "Eto", was used until 1872 in Japan.
The calendar, which cycles 60, is composed from 10 elements and 12
animals. "Hatsuuma" is the earliest horse (Uma) day in Febraury in
this old calendar, which is usually one month behind the new
calendar. Hatsuuma events are held according to the new calendar
system nowadays. Therefore, it is late January to mid Febraury when
the wind is still cold, but the original date of Hatsuuma on the
sexagenary cycle used to be about one month later, warmer springtime
when larvas crawled out from ground.

The day of Hatsuuma, people visit "Inari" shrine as a custom. It has
symbols, a vermilion colour gate called "Torii", which means a
spiritual barrier and two fox sculptures protectingboth sides of the
shrine. Inari god is originally a grain and farming god but it is
also known as all industry's god and is widely worshipped.
Hatsuuma festivals are held in Fushimi Inari Taisha which is the
head shrine of Inari, as well as many local Inari shrines.
According to Inari's legend, the god's advent was on the Hatsuuma
day in Febraury in 711 and this date was appointed to the festival
day. In the Heian period about 1000 years ago, visiting Inari
shrine seemed to be a big and enjoyable event for the people and
its visitors' lively scenes were described in the Japanese classics
at that time.

Inari god is for praying for a huge harvest. Farmers, before
starting their cultivation in spring, welcomed the god of field on
Hatsuuma day as a ceremony, and this custom gradually became
worshipping in the Inari god and visit the shrine on the Hatsuuma

On the Hatsuuma event, Rice dough sweets "Dango", azuki beans rice
dish "Sekihan" are offered. Deep-fried sliced tohu called
"Abura-Age"(oddly enough, it used to be considered as fox's
favourite food) is also offered for the foxes, divine messengers
of Inari god. Foxes come down from mountains to bring up their cubs
around the timewhen the rice ripens. Then they came to be worshipped
as a messenger of the god of field and called "Misaki" or "Osaki"
which means a good sign. Aside from whether they like Abura-Age or
not, it was understandable that people prayed for a good harvest for
the coming autumn. A belief in the fox was spread and many Inari
shrines were built in the whole country as a symbol of god for
better luck for business and fortunes.

If you have a chance to visit Japan and find an Inari shrine, why
don't you imagine those foxes serving for a god.

Translation: Hitomi Kochi

:: 2. News From JTCO

New Article Released!

[Traditional Craft]

Otani Yaki: Otani Porcelain (Tokushima Pref)

Otani-yaki is one of the representative ceramics in Shikoku,
originating in Oasa-cho of Naruto City in Tokushima Prefecture 200
years ago.


Translation: Chan Yitin, reviewed by Naoko Yamashita

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Development Organization (JTCO)- All Rights Reserved.

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