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Newsletter: Delivery Of Japan's Seasonal Tradition

Delivered on May 17, 2014
Delivery Of Japan's Seasonal Tradition [Issue 22] May 17, 2014

Delivery Of Japan's Seasonal Tradition [Issue 22]
May 17, 2014
Japanese Traditional Culture Promotion & Development Organization


1. Seasonal Flower:
Driving away evil spirits: Shoubu (Calamus)

2. News from JTCO:
Our popular products appear in the heart of Paris!

:: 1. Seasonal Flower

Driving away evil spirits: Shoubu (Calamus)

Here is a Japanese poem "Tanka", composed by Ootomono Yakamochi
recorded in Manyoshu, the Japanese oldest anthology.

"Hototogisu Matedo Kinakazu Ayamegusa Tamani nukuhiwo Imadatoomika"

Interpretation: The song from lesser cuckoos hasn't been heard yet.
It could be still far away to the date to make kusudama (herb ball)
with Calamus.

Explanatory note: Kusudama is a ball decorated with artificial
flowers and 5 colour threads. It contains spices and medicinal herbs
in the Japanese brocade bag. It was used for driving away evil
spirits on the Boys' Festival on 5th of May in ancient China and Japan.

Although many calamus are yet to bloom on 5th of May of the western
calendar, it fully blooms on the same date of the lunar calendar.
Calamus was used to drive away evil spirits because of its sword-
like shape and strong fragrance.

Calamus widely grows in East Asia including Japan. It grows wild at
the wetlands of waterside. Not only known as an object for warding
off evil, but it is also known as a Chinese herbal medicine. The root
and stem is sedative, reliefing pain, and improving gastrointestinal
disorders. It can be used as a medicinal bath to relax the tension
and improve the blood circulation as well. These effects give people
an image that Calamus could release toxics from body and mind.

The Japanese folk story showed their belief of talisman. There is a
story called "Kuwazu nyoubou", which means "A wife who doesn't eat".
In the story, a husband had escaped from his wife who had became an
ogre hid in the bushes of Calamus flowers. The wife said Calamus was
poisonous for ogres and it could melt ogre's body, then the story
comes to the end.

The poem at the beginning of this article was composed about the
feelings of waiting for the migratory bird, lesser cuckoo's song in
the early summer. Since they migrate to Japan in the middle of May,
people can hear the bird's song in the period when they making the
evil-warding Kusudama. If you find Calamus growing by the waterside,
please try to float them in your bath to enjoy the aroma as well as
to pray for your health in the coming season.

Translation: Hitomi Kochi, reviewed by Chan Yitin

:: 2. News from JTCO

Our popular products appear in the heart of Paris!

Since late April 2014, part of our popular Japanese traditional
crafts in our online shop appear at The Center of Japanese Culture in
Paris (La Maison de la Culture Japon a Paris, MCJP).

Read the announcement

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