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Newsletter: Delivery Of Japan's Seasonal Tradition

Delivered on November 28, 2014
Delivery Of Japan's Seasonal Tradition [Issue 40] November 28, 2014

Delivery Of Japan's Seasonal Tradition [Issue 40]
November 28, 2014
Japanese Traditional Culture Promotion & Development Organization


1.Seasonal Flower:
Perfume in ancient times : Fujibakama (Thoroughwort)

2. News from JTCO:
New article released!
1) Ojiya-Tsumugi: Ojiya Pongee
2) Uozu's Tatemon Event

:: 1. Seasonal Flower

Perfume in ancient times: Fujibakama (Thoroughwort)

"Nani hito ka kite nugi kakeshi Fujibakama kuru aki goto ni
nobe o niowasu"

English translation: What kind of person has come, stripped off, and
hung up a fujibakama (double meaning: light-purple hakama , or
Japanese kimono pleated skirt, and thoroughwort)? Thoroughworts bloom
every autumn filling the fields with their fragrance.

Japanese poem "Tanka" No. 239 composed by Fujiwara no Toshiyuki in
"Kokin-wakashu", an ancient anthology of Japanese poetry compiled
in the 10th century.

Thoroughwort is one of the seven famous autumnal flowers in Japan and
blooms with a lot of small soft pink to light-purple flowers. The name
Fujibakama comes from the shape of its petals like a Hakama, or
Japanese kimono pleated skirt. It was said that it was a Japanese
native flower or could have been brought into Japan as a perfume from
the Tang, or then-China, in the Nara period (8c).

Although it doesn't smell like a fresh flower, once dried, it gives
out a strong fragrance like pickled cherry leaves. This fragrant
flower, which is even called "香草:xiangcao (fragrant plant)" in
Chinese, was put into a small pouch and used as perfume hidden in
clothes. Also, the dried leaves and stalks soaked in water were used
to wash women's hair in the Heian period (8-12c).

Besides, dried thoroughwort buds have benefits not only as tea but
also as a herb as well. Because of their diuretic effect, the buds are
combined with other herbs and used as a prevention or treatment of
diabetes. They are also beneficial to stiff shoulders, neuralgia, and
itchy skin when put into the bath.

Although wild thoroughwort used to grow all over Japan, its number has
dropped and is now designated as an endangered species. Growing the
plant at home is apparently not that hard. It is good to plant this in
gardens or in planters and to enjoy its smell or medicinal effects.

Translation: Hitomi Kochi, reviewed by Tomoko Yamamoto

:: 2. News from JTCO

New article released!:

1) Ojiya-Tsumugi: Ojiya Pongee [Niigata Pref.]

Ojiya Pongee is yarn-dyed fabric which succeeded the traditional
technique of Chijimifu (a kind of hemp cloth). Among the Pongee,
Yokosougasuri is representative for its full of elegance created by
weaving with the tie dye yarn Kasuri-ito over the weft Yoko-ito. Ojiya
Pongee is rated very highly for blending of its traditional skills
creating unique texture of floss hand-spun yarn Mawatateboushi, and
up-to-dated sensibility and design.
Ojiya Pongee, woven with hand-spun yarn, displays magnificent harmony
with the typical gloss and pleasant feel of silk as well as the simple

Translation by: Hiroko Okamura, reviewed by Tomoko Yamamoto

2) Uozu's Tatemon Event [Toyama Pref.]

Uozu's tatemon event is one of the main events that are held during
the Jantokoi Uozu Festival in Uozu City, Toyama Prefecture.

A tatemon is made of a large post approximately 16m tall with roughly
90 lanterns hanging from it in a triangular shape. A long picture is
hung underneath. The total length of the tatemon is 10m and it weighs
approximately 5 tons. This is then stood on a support to make the
tatemon into the shape of a ship and is vigorously paraded around by
roughly 80 people. The shape of the tatemon is thought to represent
the pile of offerings before an altar. It is also said that it could
be the shape of a fishing boat with its sails unfurled. It's said
that the name "tatemon" comes from the mispronunciation of
"tatematsuru", which means "to offer" or "to revere."

Translation by: Catherine Newman, reviewed by Aki Tobayama

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Development Organization (JTCO)- All Rights Reserved.

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