Furisode

January 19, 2017

By: Shiori Iwawaki, Hina Uematsu, Mina Ito

There are several types of kimono, and they vary from place to place. In this article, we will introduce ‘furisode’. Furisode is a kind of kimono and is important to Japanese because almost all Japanese women wear it at least once in their lifetime. We will look at what a furisode actually is and its history, and will introduce three typical situations where furisode can be seen.

 

History of the furisode

A furisode is a style of kimono that can be worn in the coming-of-age ceremony which is called Seijinshiki. The furisode originated in the mid-1500s as middle and upper-class children’s clothing for both sexes, and at that time it was not worn by adults. At first, furisode had quite short sleeves and were used as everyday wear. However, furisode is a form of very tight clothing, so some people couldn’t wear them all the time as they were not practical. As time went by, sleeves became bigger and bigger and they became an elegant form of dress worn mainly on special occasions. Nowadays, popular furisode have long sleeves, but at first they weren’t that long. In the Genroku Era, from 1688 to 1703, furisode sleeve lengths were about 55cm to 95cm, but in the Edo Era, furisode sleeve lengths became about 95cm to 122cm. There was actually a reason that the lengths became longer, and that was because they started to do special dances at that time, and the movements looked much more beautiful if they had longer sleeves.

 

According to a 17th century text, boys could wear furisode until their 18th year or until they went through their coming-of-age ceremony, while girls were supposed to stop wearing them when they married or reached their 20th year. Initially, furisode were not that different for boys and girls, but fabric designs started to become more gender specific in the 19th century.  In the 20th century, furisode became restricted to women only, mainly due to western influence on clothes for boys and girls. As the furisode became increasingly associated with young adult women, the shorter-sleeved children’s type became known as Wakiake.  This means open-sided, in English.

 

When and where they are worn

Furisode are mainly worn in three situations. One of them is at a wedding as an attendee and another is at Yuino. Yuino is a proof of engagement ceremony when both families and the matchmaker gather together. However, the most common situation for Japanese is at the coming-of-age ceremony. People who became 20 years old are called ‘seijin’ in Japan and a coming-of-age ceremony is held on the 2nd Monday in January. On that day, women who became 20 years old wear furisode and celebrate becoming ‘seijin’. Originally, furisode could only be worn by women who were not married, therefore, almost all women wear furisode in the ceremony even though they are already married. Also the design of furisode has changed. In the past, the designs of furisode were older, traditional patterns, which could fit the Japanese mind, but now, along with the times, the designs are changing to more common patterns like leopard print. There are many more kinds of design than a long time ago, so we can choose from a large variety of patterns of furisode. The clothes which we wear today are comfortable to wear and easy to move in, too. On the other hand, furisode are very tight and hard to wear and move and run in.

Do you know the differences between kimono and furisode? Actually, they are basically the same. As there are many kinds of dresses, so there are many kinds of kimono. All furisode have long sleeves, but they can be divided into three different types, which are ko-furisode, chu-furisode and o-furisode. The ko-furisode is usually worn with a hakama for graduation ceremonies. The sleeves are a little bit shorter than furisode sleeves at about 75-87cm long, but they are still longer than standard female kimono sleeves. The chu-furisode is the most common type of furisode. Young girls usually wear it during their coming-of-age ceremony. The chu-furisode has medium size sleeves somewhere between ko-furisode and o-furisode, and the sleeves are about 91-106cm long. The o-furisode, also called the hon-furisode, is the most formal furisode, and mostly worn by brides. The O-furisode has super long 114-125cm sleeves, as well as a train. They are quite heavy, and difficult to walk around in. Furisode come in various styles and designs and it is lovely to see women and girls still wearing them in modern society, on their wedding days, special occasions, and especially on the day of the coming-of-age ceremony.

Hina Uematsu wear red furisode

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Shiori Iwawaki wear blue furisode

 


Mina Ito wear pink furisode

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Hina Uematsu’s ribbon color is black with white flower

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Mina Ito’s ribbon color is black with yellow and pick flower

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Shiori Iwawaki’s ribbon is gold with red and green flower

 

 

 

The Long Journey of Becoming a Maiko

by Mayumi Otsuka, Mai Takezawa, & Kanako Wakamatsu

In Japan, geiko are women who wear beautiful kimono, paint their face white, perform songs or dances, and play a traditional Japanese stringed instrument called the shamisen. Geiko have existed for about 300 years, and are more commonly known as ‘geisha’ outside of Japan.

Originally, geiko were the girls who served tea. Later, the tea was changed to alcohol, and the girls came to not only serve alcohol, but also perform songs or dances. At this time, the girl was called a geiko. To become a geiko requires lots of training. Girls who train to be geiko are called maiko. Now, geiko and maiko are one of the most popular symbols in Kyoto. Not everyone can be a maiko; there are certain qualifications. In this article, we are going to introduce 3 important points related to how to become a Maiko: age, house rules, and strict training. We are going to reveal some surprising facts about Maiko, too.

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Maiko


Age of Maiko

Only girls between the ages of 14 and 17 can start their training, and the age limit is 20. The reason is due to child labor laws. These girls must decide their future after they graduate from junior high school, but they do not need to worry about their school career and other requirements. Maiko must also have Japanese nationality.

House Rules

Maiko must live and train in a training house called an ‘okiya’. In the old days, because being a maiko was thought of as deeply traditional work, generally families who had connections or relationships with an okiya could send their daughters to become maiko. But nowadays present Japan is modern, so there are some websites for finding the right okiya and also for the recruitment of new maiko.

There are 5 main organizations of maiko and geiko. It is called ‘Gokagai’ in Japanese. They are Gionkoubu, Miyagawachou, Pontochou, Kamishitikenn and Gionhigashi. When a girl is introduced to one okiya, she can meet the landlady. However, nowadays maiko is an especially popular job among woman, so if there is no financial support from the okiya, she cannot go to train.

The last trial is an interview with the landlady. The landlady looks to see if the girl can put up with the hard training of being a maiko. She also looks at how much mutual understanding their is between the girl and her parents. If she judges that the girl cannot put up with the hard training or is not suitable for this work, then she rejects the girl.

Life in an okiya is unimaginable for us. Maiko is a traditional thing, so there are many strict and traditional rules. Okiya is a place where people gather, so maiko have to live in a community-style life. Okiya is not a for-profit business; they pay for all of the girls: their life, their food, clothes, makeup tools and more. For this reason, the landlady is always very strict. She always judges the girls, and tests their strong intentions and humanity. It is said that one’s look is not the most important qualification of being a maiko, but you have to improve both your humanity and figure.

Maiko Training

After the final interview, at last the training will start. The training term is called the ‘preparation term’. The girls live in the okiya, and learn Japanese dance, Kyokotoba, behavior, and the manner which is called ‘iroha’ in Japanese. The landlady and other trainers check the girls behavior in daily life. The girls have no free time of their own. Half of applicants fail on this point. It means the training is so hard, and they must do their best every time. Maiko is beautiful work on the outside, but the hidden side is strenuous and challenging. At this point, it is hard for the girls to imagine that luxurious work of a geiko is in their near future.

Once girls finish the preparation term, they can be a maiko. Before then, they are called ‘minaraisan’ which means ‘not enough’. The main work place is called ‘ozashiki’, where the girls can treat customers with their dance or song. After 5 years of being a maiko, it is called ‘nennki’ in Japanese. They cannot receive a wage because they have to give the okiya their money during the training term. Also, they cannot quit their job.

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Maiko in Ozashiki


Being a maiko is a specific job because maiko is not the end goal; it is a training position. When girls become about 20, they are eligable to be a geiko, which is the main goal for a maiko.

How to Become a Maiko

The shape of a girl’s body is certainly an important point toward being a maiko. Girls must wear shoes called ‘oboko’, which are 10cm high, so the girls cannot be too tall. Also, a Maiko must be accomplished in several areas, so they must develop skill in Japanese dance, Japanese songs, and in playing the shamisen. They also must learn kyokotoba, which is the traditional Kyoto dialect. The work of Maiko is hard, so girls must find ways to work hard and overcome their difficulties.

Maiko Puts On Oboko


Surprising Facts About Maiko

There are some prohibitions in the maiko world. The first is that girls cannot take a bath for a week, because their hairstyle is difficult to make again. Second, is that girls must not enter food stores and cafes, because the image of the maiko is important. Maiko must maintain the pure image of traditional culture. Third, maiko are prohibited from using a cellphone in the presence of other people. This is also related to the problem of maintaining a traditional image. Finally, maiko are not supposed to talk while they are walking. It is a kind of maiko manner.

Finally, after finishing this strict training, maiko can become geiko. As we said before, it is very strict. However, it is a traditional thing, so we should not be quick to change the rules, but rather protect the traditions to maintain the image of Kyoto throughout the years.

Conclusion

A maiko is a woman who trains as a Geiko. To become a maiko you have to be 14~17 years old, and have Japanese nationality. To train as a geiko, maiko have to live in okiya and do a lot of strict training related to performance, behavior and so on. Maiko is one of symbols of Kyoto and also one of the old Japanese traditions, so we have to respect this tradition. In addition, one of the maiko’s manners is that they cannot talk while they are walking, so if you see Maiko on the road, you cannot talk to them. This is the reality of the maiko.

Fukakusa

by Manami Otahara & Miki Sawai

Our travel dairy: Fukakusa’s loves story

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We visited Fukakusa to see Fushimi-inari shrine. It is very famous shrine, so people visited to there from around the world. People visit to see many Torii. Torii separates gods and humans. Torii looks like shrine gate made of wood, the color is bright red. Fushimi-inari shrine is the main shrine of all the inari shrines in Japan. Other Famous place is Fuji-no-mori shrine, it has to with Japanese emperor Tenno.   This shrine is famous Ajisai festival and the god is known for having luck in games, so people visit this shrine. When we visited this shrine, we saw may beautiful Ajisai. Ajisai is one of the flower in summer. Next place was main the temple for this trip. This temple is Gonjo-ji temple. Gonjo-ji temple is has to with our report.

Fukakusa’s love story

 

The place we visited is called Fukakusa. It is called Fukakusa because a long time ago, a person named Shosho-Fukakusa lived there. He loved Onono Komachi. She was most beautiful woman in Japan in Heian period. He loved her, but she didn’t love him, so she got an idea. The idea was very simple, he met her every night for 100 days. Her house and his house were far away. The distance was about 7 km, but he would like her to be his wife, so he met her every night. First day, second day, 97th day 98th day 99th day, he met her with peanuts. On the 100th night, she waited for him. However, didn’t come. That day he died because of heavy snow. The next day she found out that he died. She was very sad, so she was planted his nuts in her village. Later the nut grew and the tree is believed to be 1,000 years old.

Gonjo-ji temple

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Gonjo-ji temple is a very important place. This is where Fukakusa lived.   There is a pond and this pond is where he looked at himself. There is a big Buddha in this temple, and Fukakusa and Komachi are buried here. Her house was in Yamashina. Yamashina is a town on the border of Kyoto and Shiga, so her house and his house were far away. However when she heard that he died, she was very sad. Therefore when she died, she was buried in this temple.

Access

Fushimi-inari shrine

68 Fukakusa Yabunouchi-cho, Fushimi-ku Kyoto

Fuji-no-mori shrine

609 Fukakusatoriizakicho, Fushimi-ku Kyoto

Gonjo-ji

1038 nishimasuyacho, Fushimi-ku Kyoto

Nishikyogokusogo Athletic Park

Nishikyogokusogo Athletic Park

Ikki Kato, Sota Mori & Makoto Hachiya

The Park

This park is located in Ukyo-ku in Kyoto. It is roughly 180,000 square meters in size, and there are various buildings related to athletics: an athletic field also used as a football field, Wakasa stadium, a sub-athletic field, Kyoto Aqua Arena, and the Kyoto City Gymnasium. The athletic field is also used as a football field and the sub-athletic field is used for track and field, soccer, rugby, and American football. There are many competitions held here, including the home games of Kyoto Sanga Soccer team, Japan rugby top league games, Kansai student’s American football league games, and so on. However Wakasa stadium is only used for baseball. The Kyoto City Gymnasium is used for tennis, table tennis, badminton, basketball, and futsal. We can take classes at this gym, which includes tennis, table tennis, badminton, dance, etc. Kyoto Aqua Arena has two purposes, and the use of this facility changes by the season. It is used as a swimming pool in the summer, but in the winter, the main pool and jumping pool are converted into ice skating rinks. The main pool also meets the criteria for staging world level swimming events. In addition, there is an archery field range in a park called Green Hill, and this is free to use. You can see many people running or training here, but there are also many people walking with a dog or strolling, so the park is a place of recreation and relaxation for citizens. Nishikyogokusogo athletic park has actually been designated as a refuge in case of natural disasters, and can accommodate 36,000 people. The park was designed as an athletic park in 1930 to celebrate the marriage of the Showa Emperor. At present, it helps citizens lead a healthy life and makes the Nishikyogoku area very lively. Do you want to visit now?

The Main Stadium (above and right) and Wakasa Stadium (below)

IMG_1201 The Main Stadium (above and right) and Wakasa Stadium (below)

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Actions of the park for the environment

According to the Kyoto-shi Physical Education Association (managers of the Nishikyogoku General Exercise Park), many actions for the good of the environment are carried out in the facilities of the park. I will introduce some of the actions carried out here:

The park installed a box called “Eco station” from 2009 to collect PET bottle caps, paper packs, dry cell batteries, and tennis balls. 430 plastic bottle caps are worth 10 yen, and the caps money is donated to buy polio vaccine, which costs 20 yen for one dose. 9,550,111 caps have been collected between February, 2009 and May, 2014, raising enough money for 1,166 polio vaccine doses.

The park also collects used tennis balls and sends them to schools, where they are set on the legs of desks and chairs to reduce noise. 75,680 tennis balls have been sent to facilities such as schools between September, 2008 and May, 2014.

6,223 paper packs, such as milk cartons, have been collected between August, 2009 and May, 2014, and this is the equivalent in recycling terms to 1,037 rolls of toilet paper.

In addition to this, the park installed a box to collect used small consumer electronic items and this contributes to the recycling of rare metals.

A great and rare thing I also found when I walked in the park was a box to collect dog poo with a plastic bag.

All these ideas really help the users of the park and make the facilities more comfortable. It also makes sure the users’ cooperation is vital to keep the park a happy and fun place.

Dog poo collection box

Dog poo collection box

Kyoto Sanga

Nishikyogoku sports park can be used for many kinds of sports such as baseball, track-and-field, and of course, soccer. A professional Japanese soccer team named “Kyoto Sanga” uses a facility here as its home stadium.

Kyoto Sanga is a team now in the Japanese professional soccer league. They are the oldest team in existence since the Japanese professional soccer league was organized. The club was founded in 1922, but at first the name was different. The club’s former name was Kyoto Shikou Soccer Club, and Shikou meant purple light. That’s why the color of their uniform is purple. In 1993 they changed the name to Kyoto Purple Sanga after a popular vote. The word purple comes from Shikou, and Sanga is from Sanskrit (in Sanskrit Sanga is Samgha) and means buddy. Sanga also means rivers and mountains in Japanese. Especially in Kyoto, there are some clean rivers and a lot of beautiful mountains, which represents Japanese nature.

Kyoto Sanga is now fighting for the people of Kyoto and for the people who cheer them on. Their original mascots, Pasa-kun and Kotono-chan also cheer for them. They are not purple though, but red. You may think, why are they red? The answer is the color red stands for passion and the ability to take action. This is based on the actual spirit of the team and their motto, “Never give up to win”. Of course their staff and players still wear the purple uniform. Also a very famous Japanese company is supporting them, because Nintendo is their sponsor. Many people love the team, Kyoto Sanga, and they are trying their best to respond to their fans’ hopes and dreams.

Access

By bus

From Kyoto Station C5 bus terminal: Take Kyoto Public Bus No.73 to “Nishikyougoku-sougou-undou-kouen-mae”. Approximately five minutes’ walk from the bus stop.

From Uzumasa Tenjin-gawa bus terminal: Take Kyoto Public Bus No.80 to “Nishikyougoku-sougou-undou-kouen-mae”. Approximately five minutes’ walk from the bus stop.

From Shijo-Kawaramachi No.9 bus stop: Take Kyoto Public Bus No.32 to “Nishikyougoku-sougou-undou-kouen-mae”. Approximately five minutes’ walk from the bus stop.

From Shijo-Kawaramachi No.3 bus stop: Take Kyoto Public Bus No.80 to “Nishikyougoku-sougou-undou-kouen-mae”. Approximately five minutes’ walk from the bus stop.

By Train

Take the Hankyu Railway Kyoto Line to “Nishikyougoku” station. Approximately 5 minutes’ walk from “Nishikyougoku” station

KENDO

by Megumi Itakura

What is Kendo?

Kendo is a one-on-one kind of sport, or martial art, that uses a bamboo sword and a special uniform. As Kendo is included in the martial arts its purpose is to build character and develop a strong mind and body. It is a way of learning to understand the rules of Katana use (Japanese sword), and the way of Bushi.

Concept

The All Japan Kendo Federation established the concept of Kendo through this mantra in 1975:

 

To cultivate a vigorous spirit,

 

And through correct and rigid training,

 

To strive for improvement in the art of Kendo.

 

To hold in esteem human courtesy and honor,

 

To associate with others with sincerity,

 

And to forever pursue the cultivation of oneself.

 

This will make one be able:

 

To love his/her country and society,

 

To contribute to the development of culture,

 

And to promote peace and prosperity among all peoples.

 

Extracted from The All Japan Kendo Federation web site

https://www.kendo-fik.org/english-page/english-top-page.html

 

History

 The origins of Kendo lie in the Bushi art of fencing. A long time ago, a great scramble for territory brought civil wars to Japan. During battles, Bushi (soldiers) developed some special techniques to protect themselves. In these can be found the basis for Kendo. From the Kamakura era onward, there were many Bushi and they fought mainly with Katana (swords). In the Edo area, the basics of Kendo were laid down, as students swapped their katana for bamboo swords, in order to protect themselves when training. From this, many people could engage in the practice and Kendo culture began to spread. After its loss in World War II, Kendo and all Budoh (martial arts) were prohibited in Japan. However, after entering into the San Francisco Peace Treaty, the equipment used was improved to add more safety, and Kendo changed into a kind of sport like fencing. Now, the Kendo World Congress is gaining a presence in more countries every year, and Kendo has been recognized as a cultural heritage of the world, not just in Japan.

Kendo Uniform

The Kendo uniform consists of a hakama (bottom part), and Keikogi (top part) with protective plates over it. The areas of the body that receive the most strikes in an attack are particularly well protected, and the equipment for these are the “Men” (head), “Tare” (waist/abdomen), Kote (hands/wrists) and “Dou” (chest).

Men (head protector/mask) The head is protected by this kind of helmet with a visor, and also by winding a towel around the head beneath it.

Tare (waist/abdomen) The waist protector part has a nameplate with the training hall name or team name on it. Kendo doesn’t allow strikes to the lower half of the body, and this allows combatants greater ease of movement.

Kote (hands/wrists) These are like very tough cloth gauntlets to protect the hands and lower arms from direct strikes.

Dou (breast plate) This protector for the chest and abdomen is covered with tough cowhide.

Shinai (bamboo sword) Kendo players uses a sword made of bamboo called a Shinai. There are different sizes for men, women, and age groups.

 

  Gender  Junior high school student  High school student Adult
Length Less than 114cm Less than 117cm Less than 120cm
Weight Men Over 440g Over 480g Over 510g
Women Over 400g Over 420g Over 440g
Diameter Men Over 25mm Over 26mm Over 26mm
Women Over 24mm Over 25mm Over 25mm

 

To compete

In competition, players compete to get points. Points are awarded for strikes to the head, hands, and abdomen, under rules judged by the referee. Players have to put in an all round good performance though, and not just attack. The competition takes place on an area of nine or eleven meters square. The duration of one bout for elementary school age students is two minutes, for junior high school students, three minutes, and for adults and high school students, four minutes. Extra time is basically three minutes. Since 2007, the final bout of a public tournament is restricted to ten minutes.

Victory is awarded to the player who gets the most points in a one-game match or a two-out-of-three game match. In extra time, the person who gets the first point is the winner, or it can be decided by the referee. Attacks to the throat and chest are very dangerous, so this is prohibited in student tournaments. Kendo has very strict rules and code of conduct on how players must enter and leave the arena, and these must be followed very carefully.

Kendo goods shop

If you want to see Kendo goods or buy them, you can go to certain specialist Kendo shops. Here is a very good one:

 ・TOZANDO

On the first floor, there are many Kendo goods, as well as some for other martial arts. The third floor is a show room solely for protectors, and there is also an artisan’s atelier.

Address: Shinsuimaru-cho 451-1 Kamikyo-ku, Kyoto

http://jp.tozando.com/shop/nishijin

Access

Take Kyoto City bus No 50 and get off at the Omiyanakadachiuri( 大宮中立売) bus stop. Walk east for about 100m

 

The Tale of Genji Museum-Uji city

The Tale of Genji Museum –Uji city

Akiho Kamijo & Shiho Iwasaki

About the Tale of Genji

The Tale of Genji was written by Murasaki Shikibu in the early 11th century (mid Heian era), and consists of 54 chapters (jou). More than 300 characters appear in it, in a story spanning 70 years. Within the work is contained about 800 shu of a 31-syllable form of classical Japanese poetry. This book is sometimes spoken of as the “classic of classics” and one of the greatest works in the history of Japanese literature.The tale itself is divided into three parts:

Part 1 : Hikaru Genji’s birth and his life of splendor and achievement.

Part 2 : Hikaru Genji’s life of anguish and ultimately his death.

Part 3 : The life of Kaoru,the child of Hikaru Genji, fillled with stories of love and tragedy.

 

 The author – Murasaki Shikibu

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Murasaki Shikibu

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The author, Murasaki Shikibu, was born around 973 (Ten-en 1) to a middle-class aristocrat Fujiwara no Tametoki. Although we don’t know her real name, she was called Murasaki Shikibu in direct relation to the character of Murasaki no Ue, from The Tale of Genji. In 998 (Chotoku 4), she married Fujiwara no Nobutaka and they had a daughter named Daini no Sanmi. Unfortunately, three years after Daini’s birth her husband died, and it was about this time she began to write The Tale of Genji. Around 1005 (Kanko 2), she became a lady-in-waiting to Fujiwara no Michinaga’s daughter, Shoshi, who was the wife of Emperor Ichijo. In Murasaki Shikibu’s diary, it was written that The Tale of Genji was actually a special gift to Shoshi upon the birth of her son, the Imperial Prince, Atsuhira.

 

The Tale of Genji Museum -Uji City

The tale of Genji Museum is divided into two main areas: The Exhibition Zone and the Information Zone. Here are some of the main features :

Image exhibition of the Tale of Genji and a dynastic picture scroll.

A high-definition video exhibit introduces a fascinating summary of the Tale of Genji and features a model of Rokujoin, the home of Hikaru Genji.

An ox-drawn carriage and period dress exhibit.

There is a restored ox-drawn carriage here, plus a Junihitoe (the ceremonial attire of a Japanese court lady of the period) which symbolizes the level of the circle the characters in the Tale of Genji moved in.

An exhibit showcasing the dynastic culture and many functions of the court.

Here we can view the dresses and articles of furniture of the shinden dukuri style in an architectural representation of a nobleman’s residence in the Heian period. There are also examples of the games and annual events held each season in the Heian period court.

Kakehashi or Connecting Bridge

In this exhibit we can experience the journey from the capital of Heian to Uji that is illustrated in the Tale of Genji.

“Uji jujo” story theater

Here, there is a replica of a famous scene from the work Uji jujo featuring a curtain and a life-size set.

The scenes and fragrance of the Tale of Genji

The fragrances that Heian nobility were particularly fond of are introduced in this exhibit. Many of which are featured in the tale of Genji.

Movie room

We can enjoy another two movies here of the tragic love stories, “Ukifune” and “Hashihime”.

 

 The Role of Uji in the Tale of Genji

Murasaki Shikibu and the ten Uji Chapters

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The Uji Connection

The Ten Uji Chapters start with the chapter Hashi-Hime (Maiden of the Bridge) and conclude with Yume no Ukihashi (Floating Bridge of Dreams).This “bridge” in the story serves to move the setting from the capital to Uji, and also changes the focus of the story from Hikaru Genji to his son, Kaoru, as well as his grandson, Niou no Miya.

Heian aristocrats knew Uji well, and Murasaki Shikibu decided to use this setting to make them feel part of the story. Kyoto at this time was full of very important people, but Uji was a haven where the aristocrats could relax and be themselves. Murasaki Shikibu very skillfully told the stories of the emotional dramas played out between the men and women of Uji, a place that had a lively, yet also dark side

Uji in The Tale of Genji

In the Ten Uji Chapters of The Tale of Genji, Murasaki Shikibu writes about the villa of Hikaru genji’s son, Yugiri, as being on the west side of the Uji River. Actually, this was where Fujiwara no Michinaga, a very influential person of the time, also had a grand home. On the bank where Uji Shrine and Ujigami Shrine are located, she writes of the mountain villa of Hachi no Miya. Fujiwara no Michinaga’s villa on the west bank was later made into Byodo-in Hodo by his son Yorimichi, and still stands today as a prime example of buddhist architectural splendor. However, Ujigami Shrine, where Uji-no-waki-iratsuko, the son of Emperor Ojin is enshrined, is far more modest, and is much more representative of Hachi-no-Miya, who lived alone and lonely.

 

Address: 45-26 Uji-Higashiuchi, Uji City, Kyoto 611-0021

Hours: 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. (Admission until 4:30 p.m.)

Closed: Mondays (or the following day if Monday is a national holiday) and Dec. 28 to Jan. 3

Transport links:

http://www.uji-genji.jp/

 

Jo Niijima

Jo Niijima (1843~1890)

Founder of Doshisha University

Nao Mochizuki & Marino Takeuchi

Jo Niijima was an educator who held a Bachelor of Science degree, and is famous as the founder of Kyoto’s Doshisha University. Jo was actually born Shimeta Niijima in Edo, in 1843, and spent his youth in that city, where he also attended school. He began to take an interest in the American system of education after he grew to be a man, and he started to study Western Learning methods at an educational institution of the Shogunate. In 1864, he stowed away on a ship to the US and went on to study Christianity at Amherst College, from which he graduated in 1870. This was the first acquisition of a degree for a Japanese from that university. It was while in America that he also went under the western name of Joseph Hardy Neesima. After he came back to Japan, he was appointed as a missionary and traveled around the world doing Christian missionary work. It is said that he was a true gentleman and very passionate about education and studying. He worked hard at the propagation of Christianity and the establishment of the university until he died in 1890.

Establishment of Doshisha University

There were few universities in Japan in the late 19th century, and Jo hoped to establish the first one in the hands of a private citizen. In 1875, he rented about half the Kyoto residence of Viscount Sasuzane Takamatsu to use as a school building and opened the Doshisha English School. He took office as the first principal with the support of Masanao Makimura, Governor of Kyoto Prefecture, and Kakuma Yamamoto, advisor to the prefectural government. The school had a very humble beginning, as there were only two teachers (including Jo) and eight students at first. The following year, he married Yae, the younger sister of Kakuma Yamamoto and his life changed completely.

Marriage with Yae

One day, Yae visited the home of a Mr. Gordon, a christian missionary, while Jo was busy shining shoes there (he lived in Gordon’s house at that time). Jo and Yae hit it off and began a courtship with the blessing of Gordon. Yae was said to be a strong-minded woman and knew what she wanted. They were eventually engaged and then held a Christian-style wedding ceremony, which was the first Christian-style wedding ceremony in Japan for Japanese.

Yae Niijima

Yae was born in1845, and was known as a spirited child and woman, not good at feminine work, like sewing. She grew up looking up to her father and older brother. Her father was an instructor of gunnery, and she became very interested in this and began to practice it herself. Later she became an expert in gunnery. When she was 21 years old, she got married to Naosuke Kawasaki, an associate professor in the Aidu Domain. After Naosuke’s death, she remarried with Jo, and though Yae’s character was said to be the exact opposite of Jo’s, they had a good marriage. She has always remained of great interest to many people, and her life story was made into a Taiga drama “Yae no sakura” and broadcast by NHK in 2013.

Jo’s Later Years

Niijima Jo was often a sickly man, and his physical condition was not good when he was around 40 years old as he suffered from heart disease. He was admitted to a hospital in Maebashi city in Gunma at first, but later the doctors moved him to another hospital as they thought the cold there was bad for his health. The new hospital was in Oiso city in Kanagawa and though he improved there and carried on his work, he passed away at the age of 47, and was buried in Kyoto. His life was too short to see the establishment of Doshisha University, which gained university status in 1920. Along with Keio University, Waseda University and Meiji University, Doshisha became one of the first private universities allowed in Japan under changes to laws in 1912. Following this, a lot of universities sprang up all over the country, due to the great strides made by Jo and others. Nyakuoji mountain which is located near the Eikandou and Nanzen temples in Kyoto, is also home to Nyakuoji shrine. It is here that not only Niijima Jo and Niijima Yae are laid to rest, but also Yamamoto Kakuma, Yae’s brother. Nyakuoji shrine is also famous for enshrining the gods of achievement in studies and business prosperity.

同志社今出川キャンパス

Doshisha University, Imadegawa Campus

Sen no Rikyu -The Greatest Tea Master

 Airi Kinoshita

What do you associate with the Japanese tea ceremony? Many people may come up with quietness or emphasized simplicity, but how many of them know that these ideas were actually introduced by Sen no Rikyu.  In fact, in the Muromachi period (1337~1573), the upper classes, including samurai and relations of the royal family, enjoyed tea ceremonies where expensive china for the tea cups was used and lots of guests were invited.  However, thanks to the revolutionary thinking of Sen no Rikyu, the Japanese tea ceremony became more refined in style.

 Who was Sen no Rikyu?

He was born in 1522, in what is today’s Osaka prefecture, as the son of a warehouse owner.  He started learning the way of tea at a young age, and by the time he was just nineteen, he had already met the great tea master Takeno Jo-o whose teachings would influence him tremendously throughout his life.  Late in his life, Sen no Rikyu was called to serve Oda Nobunaga, the most powerful general of that time.  After the death of the general, he was employed as a tea master by Toyotomi Hideyoshi, who succeeded Nobunaga and controlled Japan.  Unfortunately, however, there was sometimes friction between Rikyu and Toyotomi, and this eventually led to Toyotomi forcing Rikyu to commit ritual suicide in 1591.     

 What did Rikyu search for to improve the style of the tea ceremony?

Sen no Rikyu and his teacher Takeno Jo-o set about trying to introduce the spirit of wabi-sabi into the tea ceremony.  Wabi–sabi is a traditional Japanese view of beauty, in which something simple, imperfect and transient is valued.  The new style of tea ceremony invented by Rikyu was known as wabi-cha, and became widespread and very popular.  The central idea of Rikyu’s new style of tea ceremony was to let guests feel as comfortable as possible, avoiding the use of strict rules and over-elaboration.

The room the wabi-cha style was held in was tiny compared with those used in other ceremony styles, and designed to allow natural light into the interior.  Furthermore, the garden that could be viewed from the room was also considered to be a part of the tea room, and therefore should be beautiful, well- maintained but quite natural.    

Hospitality in the tea ceremony

One word to explain the spirit of the wabi-cha style is “ich-go-ich-e”, meaning “this occasion and this meeting may come only once in a lifetime, therefore it should be highly valued”.  It is taken for granted that the host make the tea there and then, and prepare different sweets to enjoy with the tea for every ceremony, according to who is invited, what the guest would like, or the season, date and time the ceremony is held.  However, it is not only the food or drink that the host takes care over, but also the furniture, artworks and tea cups.  These are carefully selected to best suit each  invited guest.

Recently people may have become too busy to enjoy the tea ceremony, but the spirit of wabi- cha must not be forgotten.  If you are interested in Sen no Rikyu’ s beliefs, please try to highly value at least one occasion and one meeting in your life more than you might have done before reading this article.  

                             

α-Station

 The Most Popular Radio Station in Kyoto 

By Kenichi Hosokawa & Keisuke Togashi

89.4. Do you know what this number represents? It is the frequency for α-Station,  the only radio station in Kyoto that services this city and the Kansai area. Founded in 1990, it didn’t begin broadcasting until July, 1991.

When they first set up a new broadcasting station, it was placed in office building in northern Kyoto near Kitayama Street. However, in 2006, they moved their offices to the COCON KARASUMA building, which is located just south of the Shijo-Karasuma intersection in downtown Kyoto.

What “α” means?  

The α in the logo stands for  an “Alpha Wave”, a brain wave measured on an electroencephalogram. It has the indicates a state of relaxation and comfort. So the  “α in α-Station means to be relaxed. 

Broadcasting

There are many workers in the radio station’s offices, but only three or four people are in the studio at one time. For one program there is a DJ, director, and assistants who check the sound and the timing. In regards to the choice of the songs that are played, the staff members who are in charge will make a decision for that day’s music. Mainly, the programs are divided into half Japanese music and half Western music, which is very rare in Japan. But when there is a sudden change of the weather and there is some tragic news, there is a prepared list of songs and music to change the atmosphere.

Concept

α-Station ‘s concept is “More Talking, More Music”

The station does not only want to create a schedule arranged to the minute, but also present serialized programing. They want listeners to forget the time and relax while listening to talk and music.

 

Five Broadcasting Points

Target Audience

The Target audience is people who have a modern and fashionable sensibility, are playful, mostly aged 19~30s. But they are not the only target audience.

Main type of music

Adult Contemporary Music.

Their collections of music includes more than 40,000 CDs!

 

Programing Style 1—News & Music 

The station does not only broadcast music, but gives timely news

 

Programing Style 2 —Listener-Oriented

Broadcasts are not a one-way information transmission. Always try to have communication with listeners

Station Colors: Blue & White 

Image Color = Blue (alpha blue) pure white will make it stand out. Blue is the color of the sky, and white is the color of a cloud. It will give you relaxation.

Based on these 5 concepts, the target audience is mostly people in their 30s, a little older than the audiences of other stations. Daytime programming is aimed at housewives and women workers; the target audience for night-time programming changes to high school students.

Programs on α-Station

Sunnyside Balcony… (DJ changes every day). A program aimed at women who have interests such as cooking, travel information about Kyoto and listening to relaxing music.

J-AC Top 40… DJ: Taniguchi Kiyoko

To get young listeners, the station started to broadcast the J-Pop chart ranking. Since this program started, ratings for listeners under age 20 have increased. This is the most popular program on α– Station.

Stardust Parade… DJ: Hayashi Tomomi

This program is for young people and features mainly new music. Ms. Hayashi will listen to the young listener’s worries and then give them advice.

 

 Sato Hideki

Sato Hideki, who is a teacher at Kyoto university of Foreign Languages, is also a DJ at α-Station. When he was a child, his dream was to become a DJ, but he had forgotten this dream for many years. When he graduated from university, he started teaching in a preparatory school. 1991, α– Station needed a newscaster who could read and speak English, so he applied for this job and became a newscaster at the station. 1993, he became the DJ he really wanted to be from his childhood. After he became DJ, he found it harder than he thought and so he worked to communicate with his listeners so they would understand his talk without any misunderstandings. He learned how hard the job of a DJ really is.

 

Alpha Station Activities

α-Station conducts many other activities besides broadcasting.

 Alpha Academy

This school invites people from various fields to teach what they know. It’s the new style of education. By doing this, students have a chance to learn new things, and it will help to enrich and develop Kyoto culture.

ANA School

Speaking training includes vocal exercises, reading out loud, and abdominal respiration breathing. All of these will help improve your speaking skills.

Radio DJ School

If you want to be the DJ in the future, you should join this class. They will conduct an oral examination, and teach you how to be an eloquent speaker. Your motivation will improve.

Gospel School

Classes where you can learn and improve your skills of both singing and dancing. You don’t need to know how to read music to attend this class. 

Workout Tennis Plus

Collaboration with the Higashiyama Tennis Club. You can learn how to play tennis—for beginner to advance players.

α Mo’cool Festa

This festival is held every year on last day of the Gion Festival. A specially invited guest artist attends; and this year’s guest is Shimizu Shota (famous Japanese R&B singer)

Kyoto Sanga F.C

α– Station supports and cheers on Kyoto Purple Sanga, Kyoto’s professional soccer team!!

Programs inform listeners about recent news of the Sanga Football Club.  Comments and messages from the players will be on the program. For the listeners, tickets for Sanga games are given away as a present.

Many Kyoto people love 89.4  α-Station!

Onono Komachi

by Kato Hideaki

Who was Onono Komachi?

Onono Komachi was a great female poet in Japan. It is unknown when she was born exactly, but it is said that she was born in Akita prefecture. She played an active part in the Heian era (around 800 to 1400 A.D.), and she left behind a lot of Japanese poems on the theme of love. She was very well educated and as a result, she served at the Imperial Court. She was also famous for being a very beautiful woman, and she was considered to be one of the three most beautiful women in the world. A lot of men made advances to Onono Komachi, but she turned them all down. After serving at the Imperial Court, she traveled all over Japan. It is not known when she died. Her Japanese poems were recorded in some anthologies of waka poems such as “Kokinnwakasyu”. “Kokinnwakasyu” was an anthology of many Japanese poems which was commissioned by the Emperor. This anthology of Japanese poems was written in kanji and hiragana scripts. Kanji is originally from China and it is used in Korea too, while hiragana is an original Japanese script derived from the kanji characters.

Stone Monument in Komachi Street
Stone Monument in Komachi Street

Her Connections with Kyoto

The Ono clan lived in Zuisin-in, a temple which was located in Yamashina in Kyoto. Onono Komachi‘s house was located around Zuisin-in , but this temple was destroyed by fire in the Onin War which broke out in 1467 and continued for over ten years in Kyoto. After the war, Zuisin-in was built again in 1599.There are some historic spots in the precincts which are connected to Onono Komachi`s beauty. For example, there are some sentences which were written by many men who loved Onono Komachi. Zuisin-in holds a beauty contest every year called the “Ms.Onono Komachi contest”. The Ms. Onono Komachi is selected in this beauty contest. This contest started in 2006 and only women who are aged from 18 to 30 years old can enter. The prize winners play an active part in official events such as volunteer work at Zuisin-in and so on. In addition, there are a fewlegends of Onono Komachi in Kyoto. For example, there is a street named “Komachi Street” in Kyoto City. Once, Onono Komachi composed some poems in the area with Otomono Kuronusi who was himself a great poet .His poetic ability was as good as Onono Komachi’s, and he was jealous of her because he took pride in his poetic ability . One day he played a trick on her poem and he damaged her reputation. However, she spotted it because the poem was written by him. After causing this trouble he wanted to commit suicide but she forgave him. This legend is called “Sousiarai”. This was how the street came to be called “Komachi Street”. There is a stone monument commemorating this legend in this street.