Mishima Taisha ( Shinto Shrine )

Saturday, October 23rd, 2010

Before going to Ryutakuji ( zen temple), we went to Mishima Taisha. In this shrine, Ooyamazuminokami and Ebisu are enshrined. Ooyamazuminokami is a god for mountains, forests and aguriculture. Ebisu is a god for businesses. We have many Sengen shrines around Mt. Fuji and on top of Mt. Fuji, too. At Sengen shrine, Konohanasakuyanohime is enshrined and this goddess is a daughter of Ooyamazuminokami.

 

First, we went to a chozusha to wash our hands and rinse our mouth before paying our visit to the gods. We do this as a brief form of misogi or purification.

 

We came across a Shinto priest and he told us that they were going to have a wedding ceremony in a few minutes. How lucky !

The beautiful bride and groom were walking to the shrine led by a Shinto maiden. We could listen to Gagaku . The URL below, you can listen to Gagaku. It’s not from Mishima Taisha, though.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kSK0BvGQsEc&list=QL&feature=BF

 

 

Later Eric and I talked about music and I learned that he is a professional musician ! He plays the cello. No wonder his voice is very nice, sounds like a cello. Someday I hope to listen to his cello.

 

 

 

Exciting Ryogoku Tokyo Japan

Friday, May 14th, 2010

During Golden Week, a string of consecutiove public holidays in Japan, I visited Ryogoku in Tokyo. Ryogoku has The Edo Tokyo museum and Kokugikan (the National Sumo Stadium) and is the gateway for cruises on the Sumida River. And you can see Sky Tree, due to become Tokyo’s tallest building, under construction.

 

  

It also has some sumo stable houses and you might see sumo wrestlers training even on the street early in the morning.

On the days I stayed they had a festival in Ryogoku. Many shops and sumo-related people opened their shops on the street.They are currently holding an exhibition about Ryoma Sakamoto who was very active at the end of the Edo period. Right now his story and the time he lived, at the end of Edo, are being televised, so many people rushed to the exhibition. Even some who might not normally be particularly interested in or familiar with Japanese history might enjoy this museum’s  regular exhibition.

Ryoma is a hot figure right now and some people tried to sell a lot of goods related to him. He was involved in trading in Nagasaki so he might be happy to see people buying goods marketed in his name if it contributes to the Japanese economy.

   

Here’s a new icon to advertize sumo, Sekitori kun. Since that Mongolian wrestler left this world, some people worried about the decline of the popularity of sumo but it looks like it is doing OK.Despite the high price of sumo tickets, it looks like they are selling well.

 

 

 

 

 

 

At the festival, I tried chanko. Chanko Nabe is a special dish for sumo wrestlers. They have to practice hard and have to eat a lot to build up their body. Chanko-nabe is said to be body-building.

First I hesitated to try it because I don’t want to gain weight any more. But when I tried it I found it is very healthy . It has a lot of vegetables of various kinds and the broth is rich in collagen from chicken. This bowl of chanko was only 500 yen. It tasted very good.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Then I went to Ekoin Temple where Nezumi Kozo , other people who were killed by the big fire in the Edo era or any other people and even animals are buried. Nezumi Kozo was a famous ( infamous?) thief who was active in Edo. He took things from rich people and distributed them to the poor. On that day they had gagaku and bugaku performance. It was very good. I thought gagaku and bugaku are only 

performed at shrines but they are also performed at temples. This art came to Japan from China with Buddhism. The priests from Zojyoji Temple, belonging in the musical division, told me. 

 http://www.ekoin.or.jp/history_e.html   All in all the festival in Ryogoku was a lot of fun.

     

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
 

 

 

 

 

 

A crossover concert at the foot of Mt. Fuji

Wednesday, December 23rd, 2009

I went to a concert at Maple House, a photographers house. When I arrived, there were already a lot of people, probably more than 50. We enjoyed three different kinds of performances.

1. Jazz : Two Japanese guitarlists and one American Shakuhachi (a traditional Japanese bamboo flute ) player performed together. I met the shakuhachi player John Kaizan Neptune for the first time in many years and enjoyed talking with him. I sometimes listened to his CD but I havent been to this kind of concert for many years. He is a self-made man. For example he makes Shakuhachi by himself and he made a new type of percussion. He says buying shakuhachi is very expensive so he makes them. Both the players and audience enjoyed the music. I always think that jazz can be enjoyed fully in that style, I mean very casual and in a smallish and intimate room.

2. Hula : A very beautiful Japanese woman danced hula. I tried to take a good photo of her but I couldnt make a successful one. Her dance is very graceful. According to her hula is said to be very good for our health, too. Some doctors are studying how the dance affects people’s bodies. She is keen to introduce hula to many people.


3. Mongolian folk songs: The singer, form Mongolia, lives in Fujinomiya. He played Mongoloian violin and sang Mongolian folk music called khoomii or throat singing. He paints,too. I really like Mongolian music because its very powerful and mysterious. I like the costume,too. He gave us a short khoomii lesson. I had a chance to talk with him and asked a strange question. Someone told me that if one keeps singing khoomii for a long time, the person will die. I doubted it that but I asked about it.He laughed and said, No way, Im going to live up to 200 years old. In fact this type of singing is very good for health.

The Tale of Genji and traditional Japanese music

Tuesday, June 16th, 2009

My mother has been teaching Koto and Shamisen ( traditional Japanese musical instruments ) for some decades.

She has been lucky to have many good students and some of them are good enough to teach or some are teaching now.

I went to their concert on The Tale of Genji. Some music was composed in the Edo era based on the stories.

Mr. Shibata who has studied a alo about traditional Japanese literature gave short lectures before each musical performance. The lecture was very interesting and the musical performance was facinating so nobody was sleeping. They were all ears.

    

Last year was the 1,000 anniversary of The Tale of Genji written by Murasaki Shikibu in the Heian period. And we saw many books on it at bookstores and many people visited Kyoto.

This year’s hit might be Murakami Haruki and many people are eager to buy his latest novel. What I want to say is The Tale of Genji’s boom hasn’t finished yet. In fact, they were surprised to have such a big audience. They happily hosted as many as 165 people. The hall was almost full and we had to bring some extra chairs.

   

They all played very well and I felt very sorry for  the people who couldn’t get in as I worked as a receptionist on that day. I heard that some visitors from foreign country wanted try but it was too late to ask for it so they couldn’t  be there. It was pity.

By the way The tale of Genji is said to be fiction but I’m sure it represents the aristocrats’ real lives. I wonder if they really enjoyed love affaires that freely.? We can’t do the same things since it’s sometimes too decadent but with a little Genji spirit, the Japanese low birth rate can be solved. Am I crazy ?