JTCO strives for inheritance, creation and development of Japanese traditional culture.

JTCOJapanese Traditional Culture Promotion&Development Organization
日本語 | English
Newsletter Back Number

Newsletter: Delivery Of Japan's Seasonal Tradition

Delivered on June 28, 2017
Delivery Of Japan's Seasonal Tradition [Issue 80] June 29, 2017

Delivery Of Japan's Seasonal Tradition [Issue 80]
June 29, 2017
Japanese Traditional Culture Promotion & Development Organization


1. Seasonal Flower:
Evening glory?!: Yugao (a flower of a bottle gourd)

2. News from JTCO:
New article released!

1) Yuton: Lacquered Paper Mat
2) Satsuma-yaki : Satsuma Ware
3) Spinning Tops, A Lifelong Love

:: 1. Seasonal Creature

Here is a Tanka, compiled in The Tale of Genji, in "Yugao",
chapter four:

"Kokoro ateni Sorekatozo miru Shiratsuyuno Hikari soetaru
Yugao no hana"

Interpretation: I am wondering if it was you. He was such a
beautiful man like glistening dew admired by a flower of bottle gourd.

Yugao here is a woman that is having an unfortunate life, who was
visited very often by Hikaru GENJI even though they could only see
each other for little time. Yugao wrote the above tanka on a fan
which presented to GENJI with flower when she happened to notice
him looking at a bottle guard flower in a hedge by her house.
A bright and lovely woman, Yugao was soon to be haunted by GENJI's
girlfriend called Rokujo no MIYASUNDOKORO and then she died
fleetingly like bottle gourd flower withers.

The flower Yugao, or bottle gourd, which is a cucurbitaceous plant,
originally came from North Africa and was brought into Japan from
China in the Heian period (8c). As its Japanese name
"Yugao (evening face)" suggests, pretty white flowers blossom
in the evening and wither before afternoon in summer. It seems
it is a perfect flower to describe a woman who did not have a happy life.

Sei Shonagon, an author, poet and a court lady in Heian period
(966-1017 or 1025) described this flower like this:

The appearance of Yugao flower is similar to Asagao(朝顔Morning glory).
They even have a similar name, Yugao (夕顔evening face) and Asagao
(朝顔Morning face). However, I can't stand with Y?gao's fruit.
The size of the fruit is too big that it looks ugly. It would be
great if it is the size of a ground cherry. Even so, the name "Yugao"
is really fascinating. ("The Pillow Book", plot 65 written by
Sei Shonagon in 11C)

Yugao bottle gourd bears big fruits, weighting 7-8kg, similar
to a Hyotan bottle gourd which is also in the gourd family.
Their fruit is called Fukube (瓢). Kanpyo is dried strips
that shaved from Fukube, which is well-known as one of the
ingredients used in MakiZushi rolls.

Yugao was purely used to enhance romantic scenes in the tale
of Genji, however, it carries unattractive huge fruits which
Kanpyo is made from. Even though we are not Sei Shonagon,
it is hard to imagine that they are actually identical plants.

Kanpyo is produced abundantly in Tochigi prefecture (located
in the Kanto region), and Fukube has been used for traditional
crafts since ancient times. Appreciating the flower, eating
the fruit and using it for traditional crafts after taking its
fruit and seeds… They did't waste any bit of it, did they?!

Translation by: Hitomi Kochi, reviewed by Chan Yee Ting

:: 2. News from JTCO:

New Article Released!

1) Yuton: Lacquered Paper Mat

Yuton, which is composed of thick-layered washi (Japanese
traditional hand-made paper), is a lacquered paper mat for summer.
It is characterized by its dark brown with color as well as
comfort from cool sensation it provides when sitting down on it.
Its surface is so shiny and smooth that it even mirrors the shades of
pillars, as the Japanese famous Haiku poet TAKAHAMA Kyoshi composed:

Shiny surface of Yuton
Even reflects
Pillars inside a house

Yuton is a summer kigo (word or phrase indicating particular
season in Haiku poem) because of its association with summer.

Translation by Asuka Ikenouchi

2) Satsuma-yaki : Satsuma Ware

Satsuma-yaki (Satsuma ware) is generally divided into two types:
Shiro (white) Satsuma and Kuro (black) Satsuma. They are also called
Shiro-mon and Kuro-mon respectively. The word `mon` is Kagoshima
(southern Kyusyu) dialect, the shortened form of `mono`
meaning `thing`.

Shiro Satsuma, exquisite white ware, possesses both delicacy
and elegance. It has a warm, ivory-toned body, which is covered
with Kan'nyu--finely crackled transparent glaze--and decorated
with motifs such as animals or plants in red, blue, green,
and gold (gilt). In the past, because of its rich and gorgeous
beauty, Shiro Satsuma was highly prized among the upper classes
as their own possession or as gifts. Exceptionally superior
ones were exclusively owned by the lord of Satsuma Domain.

Translation by: Tae Yamaguchi

3) Spinning Tops, A Lifelong Love

This article is written by a spinning top enthusiast in
Louisiana. JTCO deeply appreciates his kind contribution.

Have you ever witnessed something so simple, yet profound
that it continues to captivate you years later? For me,
it's a simple children's toy; a spinning top. The specific
example that caught me was wooden with a metal tip and is
thrown with a string. I have been enamored with spinning tops
since I was a child, and I have been actively collecting
spinning tops for the last 13 years. The greatest version of
a spinning top I have found is the Japanese form. I have come to
find that Japanese spinning tops have a heightened level of
beauty, craftsmanship, and artistry to them.

Author: Hai@Luisiana

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

To subscribe/unsubscribe to our Newsletter, or to change your
registered email address, please visit:

JTCO Newsletter "Delivery of Seasonal Tradition"Experience Japan with you tour guide!Find us@Facebook