Posts Tagged With: Oda Nobunaga

Festivals and Events for October 2013 in Japan

5-6 October 2013

Event: Oda Nobunaga Festival in Gifu
Location: Downtown Gifu City
Time: 10:00 am to 5:00 pm
Price of Admission: Free

The festival honours the feats of Oda Nobunaga, a samurai warlord who used Gifu City as a base on his mission to unify Japan during the Warring States (Sengoku) period of Japan. It is a celebration of his contribution towards the construction of Gifu City and the legacy that he has left behind. The must see events are the memorial ceremony at Sofuku-ji Temple (Nobunaga’s family temple) and the samurai warrior parade down the main street.

 

 

 

 

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Nagasaki Kunchi festival

7-9 October 2013

Event: Nagasaki Kunchi Festival
Location: Suwa Shrine Nagasaki
Time: Times vary according to the event
Price of Admission: FREE

The Nagasaki Kunchi Festival is Nagasaki’s most famous festival and has been celebrated for close to 400 years now. The festival incorporates different aspects of both Chinese and Dutch culture, which have played an important part in the city’s history.

 

 

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Takayama autumn festival

9-10 October 2013

Event: Takayama Autumn Festival
Location: Sakurayama Hachimangu Shrine Takayama
Time: Times vary according to the event
Price of Admission: FREE

One of Japan’s greatest festivals, it is held twice a year in spring and autumn. The Takayama Autumn Festival is the annual festival for the Hachiman Shrine and is also referred to as the Hachiman Festival. The must see is the parade of elaborately decorated floats called yatai.

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Health and sports day

14 October 2013

Event: Health and Sports Day
National Holiday

Health and Sports Day is a National Holiday in Japan that commemorates the opening of the 1964 Tokyo Olympic Games. It is called “Taiku no Hi” in Japanese, and is a day to promote both sports and physical and mental health. A lot of schools in Japan hold their sports festivals on this day.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jidai Matsuri

22 October 2013

Event: Jidai Matsuri
Location: Heian Jingu Shrine in Kyoto
Time: 12:00 pm departure
Price of Admission: FREE

The Jidai Matsuri or Festival of the Ages dates from 1895, and sees people dressed in costumes ranging from the 8th century (Heian Period) to the 19 century (Meiji Period), parade from Kyoto Gosho (Kyoto Imperial Palace) to Heian Jingu Shrine. It is one of Kyoto’s three most famous festivals.

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Categories: Daytrips, history of Japan, Japanese customs, Must see, Things to do, Weekend trips | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The history of Japan: Part four: Muromachi Period (1337 – 1573)

The Muromachi period (室町時代 Muromachi jidai, also known as the Muromachi era, the Ashikaga era, or the Ashikaga period) is a division of Japanese history running from approximately 1337 to 1573. The period marks the governance of the Muromachi or Ashikaga shogunate (Muromachi bakufu or Ashikaga bakufu), which was officially established in 1338 by the first Muromachi shogunAshikaga Takauji, two years after the brief Kemmu restoration (1333–1336) of imperial rule was brought to a close. The period ended in 1573 when the 15th and last shogun of this line, Ashikaga Yoshiaki, was driven out of the capital in Kyoto by Oda Nobunaga.

From a cultural perspective, the period can be divided into the Kitayama and Higashiyama periods (later 15th – early 16th).

The early years from 1336 to 1392 of the Muromachi period are known as the Nanboku-chō or Northern and Southern Court period. This period is marked by the continued resistance of the supporters of Emperor Go-Daigo, the emperor behind the Kemmu restoration. The years from 1465 to the end of the Muromachi period are also known as the Sengoku period or Warring States period.

The emperor Go-Daigo was able to restore imperial power in Kyoto and to overthrow the Kamakura Bakufu in 1333. However, the revival of the old imperial offices under the Kemmu restoration (1334) did not last for long because the old administration system was out of date and practice, and incompetent officials failed gaining the support of the powerful landowners.

Ashikaga Takauji, once fighting for the emperor, now challenged the imperial court and succeeded in capturing Kyoto in 1336. Go-Daigo, consequently, fled to Yoshino in the South of Kyoto where he founded the Southern court. At the same time, another emperor was appointed in Kyoto. This was possible because of a succession dispute that had been going on between two lines of the imperial family since the death of emperor Go-Saga in 1272.

In 1338 Takauji appointed himself shogun and established his government in Kyoto. The Muromachi district where the government buildings were located from 1378 gave the government and the historical period their names.

Two imperial courts existed in Japan for over 50 years: the Southern and Northern courts. They fought many battles against each other. The Northern court usually was in a more advantageous position; nevertheless, the South succeeded in capturing Kyoto several times for short time periods resulting in the destruction of the capital on a regular basis. The Southern court finally gave in in 1392, and the country became emperor-wise reunited again.

During the era of Shogun Ashikaga Yoshimitsu (1368 – 1408), the Muromachi Bakufu was able to control the central provinces, but gradually lost its influence over outer regions. Yoshimitsu established good trade relations with Ming China. Domestic production also increased through improvements in agriculture and the consequences of a new inheritance system. These economic changes resulted in the development of markets, several kinds of towns and new social classes.

During the 15th and 16th centuries, the influence of the Ashikaga shoguns and the government in Kyoto declined to practically nothing. The political newcomers of the Muromachi period were members of land owning, military families (ji-samurai). By first cooperating and then surpassing provincial constables, a few of them achieved influence over whole provinces. Those new feudal lords were to be called daimyo. They exerted the actual control over the different parts of Japan, and continuously fought against each other for several decades during the complicated age of civil wars (Sengoku jidai). Some of the most powerful lords were the Takeda, Uesugi and Hojo in the East, and Ouchi, Mori, and Hosokawa in the West.

In 1542 the first Portuguese traders and Jesuit missionaries arrived in Kyushu, and introduced firearms andchristianity to Japan. The Jesuit Francis Xavier undertook a mission to Kyoto in 1549-50. Despite Buddhistopposition, most of the Western warlords welcomed Christianity because they were keen in trade with overseas nations mainly for military reasons.

By the middle of the 16th century, several of the most powerful warlords were competing for control over the whole country. One of them was Oda Nobunaga. He made the first big steps towards unification of Japan by capturing Kyoto in 1568 and overthrowing the Muromachi bakufu in 1573.

Please read more about the rise of Nobunaga and the developments in the Azuchi-Momoyama period here.

Categories: history of Japan, Stories about Japan | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Must see: Sumo tournaments starting tomorrow!

Sun May 12 – Sun May 26, 2013 at  Ryogoku Kokugikan

Sumo wrestlers on display

Sumo wrestlers on display

Japan‘s sumo wrestlers return to the Ryogoku Kokugikan for their annual May tournament this month, the highlight of which is likely to be seeing whether hapless ozeki Kotooshu manages to avoid demotion after a disastrous showing in March. Hakuho and Harumafuji are once again duking it out at the top yokozuna rank, while handsome Shimane-born wrestler Okinoumi Ayumi makes his debut as a komusubi, the fourth highest rank. There are cheap ¥2,100 tickets available on the door each day, though get there early if you’re hoping to score one – especially at the weekend. Note that while the tournament starts at 9am each morning, the top ranked wrestlers don’t come out until around 4pm.

Sumo

Sumo (相撲 sumō) is a competitive full-contact wrestling sport where a wrestler (rikishi) attempts to force another wrestler out of a circular ring (dohyō) or to touch the ground with anything other than the soles of the feet. The sport originated in Japan, the only country where it is practiced professionally. It is generally considered to be a gendai budō (a modern Japanese martial art), though this definition is incorrect as the sport has a history spanning many centuries. Many ancient traditions have been preserved in sumo, and even today the sport includes many ritual elements, such as the use of salt purification, from the days when sumo was used in the Shinto religion. Life as a rikishi is highly regimented, with rules laid down by the Sumo Association. Most sumo wrestlers are required to live in communal “sumo training stables” known in Japanese as heya where all aspects of their daily lives—from meals to their manner of dress—are dictated by strict tradition.

Origins

In addition to its use as a trial of strength in combat, sumo has also been associated with Shinto ritual, and even certain shrines carry out forms of ritual dance where a human is said to wrestle with a kami (a Shinto divine spirit). It was an important ritual at the imperial court. Representatives of each province were ordered to attend the contest at the court and fight. They were required to pay for their travels themselves. The contest was known as sumai no sechie, or “sumai party.”

Sumo wrestler Somagahana Fuchiemon, c. 1850

Over the rest of Japanese recorded history, sumo’s popularity has changed according to the whims of its rulers and the need for its use as a training tool in periods of civil strife. The form of wrestling combat probably changed gradually into one where the main aim in victory was to throw one’s opponent. The concept of pushing one’s opponent out of a defined area came some time later.

Also, it is believed that a ring, defined as something other than simply the area given to the wrestlers by spectators, came into being in the 16th century as a result of a tournament organized by the then principal warlord in Japan, Oda Nobunaga. At this point wrestlers would wear loose loincloths, rather than the much stiffer mawashi of today. During the Edo period, wrestlers would wear a fringed kesho-mawashi during the bout, whereas today these are worn only during pre-tournament rituals. Most of the rest of the current forms within the sport developed in the early Edo period.

Sumo wrestling scene c. 1851

Professional sumo (大相撲 ōzumō?) can trace its roots back to the Edo period in Japan as a form of sporting entertainment. The original wrestlers were probably samurai, often rōnin, who needed to find an alternative form of income. Current professional sumo tournaments began in the Tomioka Hachiman Shrine in 1684, and then were held in the Ekō-in in the Edo period. They have been held in the Ryōgoku Kokugikan since 1909, though the Kuramae Kokugikan had been used for the tournaments in the post-war years until 1984. Nations adjacent to Japan, sharing many cultural traditions, also feature styles of traditional wrestling that bear resemblance to sumo. Notable examples include Mongolian wrestling, Chinese Shuai jiao (摔角), and Korean Ssireum.

Winning a sumo bout

The winner of a sumo bout is either:

  1. The first wrestler to force his opponent to step out of the ring.
  2. The first wrestler to force his opponent to touch the ground with any part of his body other than the bottom of his feet.

On rare occasions the referee or judges may award the win to the wrestler who touched the ground first; this happens if both wrestlers touch the ground at very nearly the same time and it is decided that the wrestler who touched the ground second had no chance of winning as, due to the superior sumo of his opponent, he was already in an irrecoverable position. The losing wrestler is referred to as being shini-tai (“dead body”) in this case.

There are also a number of other rarely used rules that can be used to determine the winner. For example a wrestler using an illegal technique (or kinjite) automatically loses, as does one whose mawashi (or belt) becomes completely undone. A wrestler failing to turn up for his bout (including through a prior injury) also automatically loses (fusenpai). After the winner is declared, an off-stage gyōji (or referee) determines the kimarite (or winning technique) used in the bout, which is then announced to the audience.

Matches consist solely of a single round and often last only a few seconds, as usually one wrestler is quickly ousted from the circle or thrown to the ground. However, they can occasionally last for several minutes. Each match is preceded by an elaborate ceremonial ritual. The wrestlers themselves are renowned for their great girth as body mass is often a winning factor in sumo. However, with superior technique, smaller wrestlers can control and defeat much larger opponents.[1]

The wrestling ring (dohyō)

Main article: dohyō

Sumo matches take place in a dohyō (土俵): a ring, 4.55 metres (14.9 ft) in diameter and 16.26 square metres (175.0 sq ft) in area, of rice-straw bales on top of a platform made of clay mixed with sand. A new dohyō is built for each tournament by the yobidashi. At the center are two white lines, the shikiri-sen, behind which the wrestlers position themselves at the start of the bout.[2] A roof resembling that of a Shinto shrine may be suspended over the dohyō.

Professional sumo

Sumo wrestlers gather in a circle around the gyōji (referee) in thedohyō-iri (ring-entering ceremony). See photo at the beginning of this posting.

Professional sumo is organized by the Japan Sumo Association.[3] The members of the association, called oyakata, are all former wrestlers, and are the only people entitled to train new wrestlers. All practicing wrestlers are members of a training stable (heya) run by one of the oyakata, who is the stablemaster for the wrestlers under him. Currently there are 47 training stables for about 660 wrestlers.

All sumo wrestlers take wrestling names called shikona (しこ名), which may or may not be related to their real names. Often wrestlers have little choice in their name, which is given to them by their trainer (or stablemaster), or by a supporter or family member who encouraged them into the sport. This is particularly true of foreign-born wrestlers. A wrestler may change his wrestling name several times during his sumo career.

Sumo wrestling is a strict hierarchy based on sporting merit. The wrestlers are ranked according to a system that dates back hundreds of years, to the Edo period. Wrestlers are promoted or demoted according to their performance in six official tournaments held throughout the year. A carefully prepared banzuke listing the full hierarchy is published two weeks prior to each sumo tournament.

Sumo is a bit like dancing

Sumo is a bit like dancing

Categories: Stories about Japan | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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