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Newsletter: Delivery Of Japan's Seasonal Tradition

Delivered on October 12, 2017
Delivery Of Japan's Seasonal Tradition [Issue 83] October 12, 2017

Delivery Of Japan's Seasonal Tradition [Issue 83]
October 12, 2017
Japanese Traditional Culture Promotion & Development Organization


1. Seasonal Creature:
A companion for a long night in autumn: The sound of insects

2. News from JTCO:
New article released!

1) Mishima Oni Yozu kite (Mishima Demon Kite)
2) Nakaniida-Uchihamono (Nakaniida Traditional Blade)

:: 1. Seasonal Creature

Here is a Haiku written by UEJIMA Onitsura (17c).

"Gyosuino Sutedokoro nashi Mushino koe."

Interpretation: There is no place to throw away the water that I used
to cool down from the heat in early autumn as well as to purify my body
as it is too much of a shame to stop all those insects creating
this pleasant music.

When autumn is in full swing, we hear the typical autumn insects'
sound of crickets, bell crickets and katydids and so on every night.
Although "Mushi" refers to all sorts of insects today, in the world
of Haiku, "Mushi" only refers to the autumn insects that sing in
fields and "Mushi" is therefore an autumn season word. Their adorable
timbre appears in many well-known Japanese nursery songs as well.

There is a Tanka about the sound of insects even in the oldest existing
collection of Japanese poetry,"Manyoshu", written in 7-8c in the Nara period.

"Niwakusani Murasame furite Koroghino Nakukoe kikeba Akidukinikeri."

Interpretation: I took a walk after scattered rain and heard the
crickets song from the weeds in the garden. It must be autumn now.
(Tanka written by unknown, compiled in Manyoshu, No.2160 in Vol10)

In Manyoshu, all the insects that sing in autumn were generically
called "Kohrogi (cricket)". Thereafter, scenes of people enjoying the
sounds in banquets were described in literature such as in The Pillow
Book written by Sei Shonagon as well as in The Tale of Genji by Murasaki
Shikibu in the Heian period (8-11c).

Enjoying the sound of insects became culturized and was highly elevated
in the Edo period (17-19c). There were some popular places in mountains
to listen to the sounds and both common people and samurai went there.

A study about cerebral function shows that only the Japanese and
Polynesians can feel comfortable with the sound of insects but all
others in the world recognise it just as noise. In particular, Westerner
process the sound with their right brain while the Japanese with
their left brain. As we can see that the left brain's alias name is
the language brain, Japanese apparently recognize the sound as the
"Insect's voice" not just as sounds. That is why they can feel it
comfortable and quaint. If you thought it is strange that the Japanese
go out especially to listen to insects when you read the last paragraph,
this is probably the reason.

Although it is rare to hear the sound of insects in downtown areas,
Japanese people love listening to it and feel the atmosphere of autumn
days as well as sorrow even now. What makes you feel autumn?

Translation by: Hitomi Kochi, reviewed by Chan Yee Ting

:: 2. News from JTCO:

New Article Released!

1) Mishima Oni Yozu kite (Mishima Demon Kite)

Yozu, which means a "kite", and Oni Yozu is a type of kite on which a
demon face is drawn. It is the size of 6-8 Tatami mats, which is a type
of mat used as a flooring material in traditional Japanese-style rooms.
6-8 Tatami mats are around 9-13 m2.

2) Nakaniida-Uchihamono: Nakaniida Traditional Blade

Nakaniida traditional blades are hammer-forged by blacksmiths one at
a time. These blades are crafted using the karauchi method, a
traditional forging technique that has been adopted from Japanese
katana blade-making. There are no molds used; instead, iron and steel
are heated in a furnace and made into shapes by hammering.

Translation by Tomoko Yamamoto, Reviewed by Misa Imanaka

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

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