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Newsletter: Delivery Of Japan's Seasonal Tradition

Delivered on October 29, 2015
Delivery Of Japan's Seasonal Tradition [Issue 60] October 29, 2015

Delivery Of Japan's Seasonal Tradition [Issue 60]
October 29, 2015
Japanese Traditional Culture Promotion & Development Organization


1. Seasonal Creature:
A resident who lives far away and carries a letter: Wild goose

2. News from JTCO:
New article released!

1) Edo-Yuzen: Edo-Yuzen Dyeing

:: 1. Seasonal Creature

A resident who lives far away and carries a letter: Wild goose

Here is a Japanese traditional poem, Tanka, complied in "Kokin
Wakashu" at No.258 in chapter 5, composed by MibunoTadamine.

"Akino yono Tsuyuwoba Tsuyuto okinagara Karino namidaya Nobewo

Interpretation: I am wondering if these colourful autumn trees and
flowers were coloured by only the night dew or if it was the tears
from wild geese crying that plaintively, fell and broke into the
colour of this field.

The wild goose is often mentioned as an autumn seasonal word in the
classical Japanese poems especially the poems which describe the
dreary scenery when entering winter. The wild goose is a kind of birds
that migrates from the north when the autumn is in full swing. When
the water in the lakes goes warm in spring, it would go back to the

Few kinds of wild goose are usually seen in Japan such as white
fronted goose, lesser white fronted goose and Bean goose. They mainly
fly to the lakes in the north of Japan but they used to be seen in all
parts of Japan according to those traditional poems composed in
ancient times. The wild goose's plaintive cry was especially described
in many poems to arouse people's thought about gloomy autumn scene or
a feeling of melancholy.
Because the array of wild geese flying over the mountains was like an
army reinforcements, it was adored by Samurai families as an
auspicious bird in the Sengoku (Civil War) period (15-16c).
The emblem of a wild goose was used by well-known Samurai families as
a family crest.

Here is another Tanka compiled in Goshui Wakashu chapter 71 composed
by Tsumorino Kunimoto.

"Usuzumini Kaku tamazusato Miyurukana Kasumeru sorani Kaeru karigane"

Interpretation: A line of wild geese going home in the sky with the
evening mist reminds me of a letter written on Usuzumigami (a recycled
Washi, Japanese traditional paper).

The wild goose comes over from far away and then flies away to nowhere
every year. This habit stirred up ancient people's imagination and
they used to be thought of as messengers carrying a letter. The poem
above has a comparison of this legend and the scene of wild geese
flying away in a flock. They also believed that there was an
unexplored place where wild geese flew to. It was called
雁道(Karinomichi or Gando, literally "Geese Path") and they thought it
was located in the North of Mutsu or Yezo region, or the East side of
the Korean Peninsula. We can see that the wild goose was a familiar
bird for them but it was also a mysterious existence.

As it is rare to hear a wild goose cry or to see it fly nowadays, it
can be hardly imagined that they bring and add colours to the autumn
anymore. If you have a chance to travel to the North of Japan, why not
visit the lakes where the wild geese gather and give a thought to them
like the ancient Japanese people did?

Translation: Hitomi Kochi, reviewed by Chan Yee Ting

:: 2. News from JTCO:

New Article Released!

1) Edo-Yuzen: Edo-Yuzen Dyeing

Edo-Yuzen is also called Tokyo Tegaki Yuzen (Tokyo Hand-painted Yuzen;
Yuzen is one of dyeing techniques using rice glue as resist paste) or
Tokyo Yuzen (Tokyo was formerly called Edo). It is said that they need
to train for as long as 10 years to learn each procedure of Yuzen

Translation by: Shione Furuta

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Development Organization (JTCO)- All Rights Reserved.

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