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Newsletter: Delivery Of Japan's Seasonal Tradition

Delivered on December 25, 2020
Delivery Of Japan's Seasonal Tradition [Issue 121] December 25, 2020

Delivery Of Japan's Seasonal Tradition [Issue 121]
December 25, 2020
Japanese Traditional Culture Promotion & Development Organization


1. Seasonal custom:
Amulet for female : Hagoita

2. News from JTCO:
1) New article released!
Hidehira Nuri (Hidehira Lacquerware)

2) Newsletter renewal in 2021!

:: 1. Seasonal custom

Here is a Haiku written by a Haiku poet, HATTORI Ransetsu, who lived in 17c.
(Interpretation: "Hagoita" racket is utterly auspicious on either side. )

There is a traditional game that is played during the New Year period
called "Hanetsuki" in Japan. People hit a shuttlecock like in badminton
with a wooden racket, and try not to let it drop on the ground. The
shuttlecock is made using a washout seed with several feathers. This
black seed is very hard and makes pleasant clanging sounds when hit by
the rackets.

The origin of Hanetsuki was Giccho. The soccer-like athletic game Kemari
was played among boys, whereas Giccho, hitting a ball with canes was a
Shinto ritual performed by girls. Accordingly, a Chinese children's game
of kicking a weight tied with a string or a feather was integrated into
Giccho. In the Muromachi period (14c), the cane changed to Hagoita (a
wooden racket for Hanetsuki), and also, the ball switched to a soapberry
seed with feathers. The soapberry is written as "無患子" in Japanese.
Those Kanji contain the meaning of "Children with no suffering." People
played Hanetsuki to wish for their children being in good health.

Hanetsuki had already become a New Year's tradition in the Muromachi
period. In the "Kanmongyoki," records of lives in the court or society,
there is a description of the New year in 1432, lords and court ladies
grouped together as female or male teams and had matches of Hanetsuki.
It also says that the losing team had to offer drinks to the winner.

There are two kinds of Hagoita rackets, one for the athletic game or a
decorated "Kazari Hagoita." This beautifully crafted Kazari Hagoita
already existed in the Muromachi era. It was painted with attached
cloth, or paper and also coloured with cosmetic powder, silver, or gold.
This extraordinary luxury Hagoita was called "Sagicho Hagoita." It was
sent between nobles families as a thank you gift or a wedding celebration.
Sagicho is a traditional ritual to get rid of bad luck held on the
lunar New year which is on the 15th of January. In the ritual, people
burn the paper of their first writing of the year, as well as Shime
Kazari (a straw decoration for New year). The ritual is depicted on the
back side of a Hagoita racket while the audience for the event is drawn
on the other side. The scene of Sagicho was expressed entirely using
both sides of the Hagoita.

In the Sengoku period (15c), Hagoita contained another meaning: warding
off bad splits. Seigen Mondo is a record of history written in 1663.
In the book, there is a depiction of Hagoita in which says that the
way the shuttle flies looks like a dragonfly preying on mosquitos.
For this reason, people played Hagoita to wish for protecting children
from epidemics caused by mosquitoes.

In the Edo era (17c), Hagoita became an essential gift among Samurai
families and upper-class people for the New Year. On the Sagicho Hagoita
existing today, as well as the scene of nobles painted with gold, silver,
and other flashy colors, a family crest is represented too in the picture.
This Hagoita with the family crest was a New Years' celebration gift sent
to a family that had a baby girl, and the sender wished for her healthy
growth. This custom was adopted among ordinary people, who also sent
this female amulet to each other at the end of the year. A Hagoita
market still remains in Asakusa district in Tokyo and is held in December
every year.

The technology of three-dimensional padded cloth pictures already existed
in the Edo period (19c). Celebrities were depicted using the technique
and those Hagoita were called Kawari Hagoita. Kawari Hagoita has
traditionally been sold as a New Year's good luck charm since the end
of the Edo era (1804-1830). Even today, people get excited to hear who
will be chosen as the theme of the Hagoita as the most influential
people of the year. Kabuki actors Hagoita have gained tremendous
popularity and many are sold at those times.

The Hagoita with beautiful decorations are mostly produced by traditional
doll manufacturers. Because of the gorgeous decoration, you may not
believe they were meant to be rackets. Why don't you search for pictures
on the internet? You will be surprised how the Hagoita are much more
splendid than you expected.

Translation by: Hitomi Kochi, reviewed by: Chan Yee Ting

:: 2. News from JTCO

1) New article: Hidehira Nuri (Hidehira Lacquerware)

Depending on the uses of the final product, wood of suitable material such
as that of the Japanese horse-chestnut and Japanese zelkova is dried and
The foundation is made by hardening the dried and processed wood with
unprocessed lacquer, covering the weak parts with cloth and further
hardening them with raw lacquer.

Translation by: Yoshinori Sakamoto, reviewed by: Mavis.C.

2) Newsletter renewal in 2021!
We are going to renew this newsletter from the 1st issue in 2021. We will provide
mainly traditional crafts & festival information across Japan. Thank you so
much in advance for your continuous support & subscription.

We wish you a peaceful holiday season & prosperous year of 2021!

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Development Organization (JTCO)- All Rights Reserved.

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