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Newsletter: Delivery Of Japan's Seasonal Tradition

Delivered on October 17, 2016
Delivery Of Japan's Seasonal Tradition [Issue 72] October 17, 2016

Delivery Of Japan's Seasonal Tradition [Issue 72]
October 17, 2016
Japanese Traditional Culture Promotion & Development Organization


1. Seasonal Weather:
Telling that autumn is in full swing: Frost

2. News from JTCO:
New article released!

1) Tsuruzaiku: Woven Vine Craft
2) Simotsuke-Suisha: Simotsuke Waterwheel

:: 1. Seasonal Weather

Here is a Japanese traditional poem, Tanka, compiled in Kokin Wakashu
in Vol.9, composed by Oshikochi no Mitsune.
"Yowo samumi Oku hatushimowo Haraitsutsu Kusano makurani Amata tabi
Interpretation: Under the sky on my journey, I slept few times when
the first frost fell on the plants in the cold night.

On the 23rd or 24th of October is the "frost descent" on the solar
calendear and it is said the time of the first fall frost in the year.
At this time of the year, the air in the morning and evening starts
becoming chilly and frost starts falling on mountains and garden
plants in Japan.

There are a large number of expressions in Japanese about rain and
snow and so as frost. Like the Tanka in the opening paragraph,
"Hatsu shimo (first frost)" is used as an expression for the frosts at
this time of the year. The frost fallen around the eighty-eighth night
(counted from the spring equinox which is around 2nd May) is the last
one that appears at the end of spring and it is described as "The
forgotten frost" or "farewell frost". Because the morning frost
disappears quickly, it is used as a prefix for "消 (Ke: Vanish)" and
depicts evanescence. "Shimo kuchi (frost decaying)" means cracked skin,
frostbite or cracks. "Shimo karu (frost dying)" means that a plant has
died due to frost. "Shimo sayuru (frost clearing)" depicts how frost
makes coldness even colder. "Shimo wo majieru (streaked with frost)"
refers that hair is turning grey. This is a beautiful expression which
shows a sorrow feeling of reluctant parting of youth with the sorrow
expressed by frosts.

"Fuji bakama (Thoroughwort)" is chapter 30 in the Tale of Genji (a
long novel published in 1008 by Lady Murasaki) and it is set at this
time of the year. This scene depicts mid-autumn with the first light
frost, and it also shows the interesting conversation using the word
"frost" between beautiful young girl, Tamakazura and Hyoubu kyou no
miya, one of the princes of the deceased emperor, who had proposed to

"Asahi sasu Hikariwo mitemo Tamazasano Hawakeno shimowo Ketazumo

Interpretation: If you get love from the emperor like bathing in the
rising sunlight, please do not forget about me who is just like a
delicate frost on the leaves.

With this letter, he attached a dead bamboo leaf with frost still on.

In the response, Tamakazura told him that she knew his feelings
towards her using a comparison of herself to the hollyhock leaf.

"Kokoromote Hikarini mukou Aoidani Asaoku shimowo Onoreyawa ketsu"

Interpretation: Even though a hollyhock plant heading towards sunlight,
it doesn't wipe out the frost that appeared in the morning.

Although the frost was a love affair's exquisite tool in the city, it
was feared by farmers living in rural villages as it makes their crop
loss. Because transplanting of rice seedlings was done during the
rainy season in old times to avoid water shortage, the time of harvest
used to be later than today which means that the early frost could
damage their rice plant.

There is a shrine called "Shimomiya (Frost Shrine)" in Yakuinbaru in
Aso city in the Kumamoto prefecture (Southern Japan). It holds a
festival to keep the frost away every year which is "Hitaki Shinji
(Stoking Ritual)". In this event, a fire is continuously stoked for 56
days fromthe middle of August to the middle of October.

At ancient time, a god called Tateiwa Tatsumino Mikoto sat in the
mountain and practiced shooting arrows. His servant, Kihachi, was
picking up the arrows but he got bored of it by the 100th arrow. He
kicked it back to the god and the god was cross and then cut Kihachi
down. He resented the god and left his last words, "Once I went to
heaven, I spread frost over crops to damage them". Since then, the
area suffered with an early frost every year. The god begged Kihachi
for his forgiveness and promised to worship him as a god. Because
Kihacki asked him to warm his neck which was in pain from the cut,
the god built the shrine and started Hitaki shinji apparently.

The frost appears when we get ready for the winter. Where will you see
the first frost this year, probably on the window, on the plants in
your garden or perhaps on the ground? When you happen to be out in the
early morning in the blue sky, why don't you try to feel something
more than coldness from frost?

Translation by: Hitomi Kochi, reviewed by Chan Yee Ting

:: 2. News from JTCO:

New Article Released!

1) Tsuruzaiku: Woven Vine Craft

In Tadami Town of Minami Aizu County, Fukushima Prefecture, woven vine
works, which are made out of natural vines (silver vine, chocolate
vine or grapevine), have been used as livingware since old times.

Reviewed by Miwa Odagiri

2) Simotsuke-Suisha: Simotsuke Waterwheel

Simotsuke-suisha has developed in a mountainous area with rapid stream.
It is not only practical but beautiful featuring its Sokuita (Side
board), which is formed with two kinds of boards, Makuita (Flashing
board) and Tsugiita (Joined board). It has been continuously improved
to resist water power by reinforcing arch-shaped Makuita with Tsugiita.

Translated by: Hiromi Fujii, reviewed by Marina Izumi

Copyright by Japanese Traditional Culture Promotion and
Development Organization (JTCO)- All Rights Reserved.

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