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Newsletter: Delivery Of Japan's Seasonal Tradition

Delivered on December 11, 2014
Delivery Of Japan's Seasonal Tradition [Issue 41] December 11, 2014

Delivery Of Japan's Seasonal Tradition [Issue 41]
December 11, 2014
Japanese Traditional Culture Promotion & Development Organization


1.Seasonal Festival:
New year's preparation starts from here:
Susuharai (a thorough house‐cleaning at the end of the year)

2. News from JTCO:
New article released!
1) Hama Butsudan: Hama Buddhist Altar

:: 1. Seasonal Festiva

Now is the time for castles, temples and shrines starting "Susu harai"
in Japan. At the end of a year, everyone would think of house-cleaning,
so Susuharai does not only mean a cleaning, but also a deeper meaning.

Since ancient times, people used to welcome a god named "Toshigami" on
New Year's Day as one of the Japanese customs since "Toshigami" is
believed to give us a huge harvest. As a preparation, people would
clean their houses and buildings to purify them beforehand. A broom
was used as a tool to get rid of impurities in the Imperial Court in
Nara period (8c). Since that, Susuharai has been not only a cleaning
to clean dirt but also being thought as a Shrine ritual.

Susuharai became a custom since Heian period (8-12c) and "Souji", a
Japanese word which means cleaning, started to be used about the same
time. Since Kamakura period (12-14c), cleaning was encouraged as Zen
Buddhism practice in temples. Zoukin (dust-cloth) was called Joukin
(浄巾, i.e cloth for purifying). We can see that cleaning actually
means purifying to them at that time.

Susuharai was usually held on the 13th of December as an event of New
Year until the Taisho period. On that day, all family members had a
day off from usual work and instead, cleaned every corner of the house.
After the cleaning, they would offer dango (sweet rice dumpling) to
god and eat Susuhakimochi (soup with rice cake), Susuhakikayu (congee)
or Susuhakizousui (rice porridge with vegetables). After that, they
would have a bath, called Susuyu, to purify their bodies.

Though it is troublesome and busy to clean the house thoroughly,
everyone would do the Susuharai in order to refresh both mind and body,
and also get well prepared to welcome the luck and blessing bought by
the New Year god.

Translation: Hitomi Kochi, reviewed by Chan Yitin

:: 2. News from JTCO

New article released!:

1) Hama Butsudan: Hama Buddhist Altar

Hama Butsudan, or Hama Buddhist Altar, is made in the way the parts
can be dissembled and reassembled. For making Hama Butsudan,
lacquering is done first, before assembling the altar. So, great
accuracy in designing the parts and exact skills in lacquering are
required. This precise accuracy is the reason why Hama Butsudan is
acclaimed for being the most crafted Buddhist altar in Japan.

Translation: Moe Shoji, reviewed by Hiroko Okamura

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Development Organization (JTCO)- All Rights Reserved.

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