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Newsletter: Delivery Of Japan's Seasonal Tradition

Delivered on January 13, 2015
Delivery Of Japan's Seasonal Tradition [Issue 44] January 13, 2015

Delivery Of Japan's Seasonal Tradition [Issue 44]
January 13, 2015
Japanese Traditional Culture Promotion & Development Organization


1.Seasonal Festival:
Sending off Toshi gami (Year God):
Sagichou (Burning of New Year's decorations)

2. News from JTCO:
New article released!
1) Unpei-fude: Unpei Writing Ink Brush

:: 1. Seasonal Festival

Sending off Toshi gami (Year God):
Sagichou (Burning of New Year's decorations)

In Japan, Kadomatu (a traditional decoration made with pine and bamboo
for welcoming the Year God) is displayed at the entrance of houses and
buildings during the period from New Year's Day to 14th of January
(or 7th of January) and this period is called the "Matsunouchi
(Literally "Inside a pine", which means the period during which the
Year God stays at everyone's home)". On the other hand, Mochibana
(decoration made with rice cake) and Mayudama (decoration made with
rice flour) are displayed from the 15th to 31st of January and this
period is called "Koshougatsu (Small New Year)". During Koshougatsu,
people especially living in farming areas hold events to pray for a
good harvest, to exorcize ogre sprits and to send off the god.

Despite the regional variation in names, those such as "Donto Yaki"
or "SaitoHarai" are basically the same Sagichou event which is to send
off Toshi gami after the new year season.
A god called Toshi gami is the god who is believed to appear with fire
or smoke and bring a huge harvest in the New Year.

Sagichou was originally a Fortune-telling event held in Koshougatsu in
the Heian period (8-12c). Boys living in the imperial court used to
burn sticks with fans and strip of fancy papers. This stick with a
mallet was used in a game called 毬杖 (Ghichou), which was a child's
game in which players hit a ball into the hostile position to win. In
the collection of essays written in the Kamakura period (12-14c)
called Tsurezuregusa, a similar event is described as "Sagichiyau" and
it is thought to mean 三毬杖 (three Ghichou). This "Saguchiyau"
pronunciation gradually turned into Sagichou.

Although Sagichou was once abolished in the Edo period (17-19c) due to
concerns about a fire, today it is held nationwide in Koshougastu.
Some regions even hold it in February or March as a big event. An
ancient tradition says the fire or smoke of Sagichou has a special
power to make you younger. It is also believed that eating mochi
(rice cake) baked in the fire can prevent illness throughout the year.
It sounds interesting that events related to celebrating the New Year
are held not only on New Year's Day but also afterwards, doesn't it?

Translation: Hitomi Kochi, reviewed by Marina Izumi

:: 2. News from JTCO

New article released!:

1) Unpei-fude: Unpei Writing Ink Brush

Unpei-fude has 27 types of ink brushes totally, such as Tenpyo-hitsu
(Jakuto-hitsu), Hitsuryuto maki-fude, Kobodaishiryu-hitsu,
Fujiwarateikaky-hitsu, Jyodaiyo-fude, Koetsu-fude, Tofuasonyo-hitsu,
and so on. Also, they are categorized into three types of shape:
1) General shape 2) Jakuto(sparrow-head) shape 3), and To-maki
(rattan coil) shape. Moreover, as for Type 1(General shape), it is
divided into three categories depending on the names of the brushes:
A) Era, B) Purpose of Use, and C) Famous family style, which are
called "maki-fude," and it is originated from the Tang Dynasty of
China. In addition, "maki-fude " have passed down it's traditional
technique of wrapping paper on the neck of the brush into the modern

Translation by: Tomoe Ukida, reviewed by Namiko Murakami

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Development Organization (JTCO)- All Rights Reserved.

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