Online dictionary of history and traditions in Japan: Kabuki,Kadomatsu,Kagami mochi,Kagura,Kaguyahime,Kaieki,Kaisho,Kaiten,Kakemono,Kamaboko

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Kabuki

kabuki
alternative words: Kabuki Theater, Kabuki drama
keywords: kabuki, theater
related topics: Edo period , Hanamichi , Onnagata , Chikamatsu Monzaemon , Chushingura
related web sites: http://www.waseda.ac.jp/enpaku/gallery/gallery.html , http://www.netlaputa.ne.jp/~AKITSUKI/ , http://allabout.co.jp/entertainment/kabuki/
explanation: Kabuki is considered, with Noh and Joruri, one of the 3 major traditional theatrical arts in Japan. It was created by Izumono Okuni ca. 1600 in Kyoto. Initially played only by women, it had been forbidden by the government because of its erotic appearance. So it has become a drama played only by men and been very popular during Edo period. Originated from a dance, it keeps always a strong choreographic aspect.

Kadomatsu

kadomatsu
alternative words: Gate pine
keywords: thing
related topics: New year , Heian period
related web sites: http://www.ic-net.or.jp/home/yaguchi/houwa/simekazari.htm , http://www.fits.co.jp/~zenshoji/shougatu.htm
explanation: New year decoration put at the entry of each house to welcome "toshigami" (year's god) who comes to protect the family. Usually it is arranged in pairs (left and right) and composed of evergreen trees such as pine tree, bamboo and sakaki (low evergreen tree of the tea family). The height of kadomatsu is about 1m high and is kept during the first 7 days of a new year, corresponding to "matsu no uchi" i.e. "inside pine". The rite of "kadomatsu" had been already practiced in Heian period.

Kagami mochi

kagamimochi
alternative words: Kagamimochi, Mirror mochi, Mirror mochi cake
keywords: food, thing
related topics: New year , Muromachi period , Tokonoma , Mochi
related web sites: http://www.kagamimochi.jp
explanation: Offering for toshigami (year's god) settled on "tokonoma" (Japanese alcove) in a new year celebration. It consists to pile up 2 or 3 round rice cakes (lower is bigger) and put a "daidai" (bitter orange) at the top. It comes from a shintoist rite (the mirror is a god's symbol for them) but has been generalized since Muromachi period with an appearance of "tokonoma". On January 11th, it will be cut off into small pieces to be cooked. The ceremony is called "kagami biraki", i.e. "mirror opening".

Kagura

kagura
alternative words: Kagura dance
keywords: shintoism, theater
related topics: Kojiki , Amaterasu , Noh , Shintoism
related web sites: http://homepage3.nifty.com/santoyjr/ , http://fish.miracle.ne.jp/haruka-s/menu.html , http://www2s.biglobe.ne.jp/~t-sato/
explanation: Man carried out music and dance for shinto gods since old times. For example, the people performed "kagura" when Amaterasu had hidden herself into a cave to plunge the world into the darkness. Each shinto shrines had own kagura but it has been gradually replaced by more sophisticated arts like Noh. Kagura practiced in the imperial court nowadays is one of rare survivors of the traditional kagura.


Kaguyahime

taketorimonogatari kaguyahimenomonogatari
alternative words: Kaguya hime, Kaguyahime tale, Kaguyahimeno monogatari, Taketori monogatari, Taketori tale
keywords: tale
related topics: Heian period
related web sites: http://www.kokugakuin.ac.jp/lib/lib/htm/l-rarebook.html , http://klab.ri.aoyama.ac.jp/tool.html
explanation: The oldest existent fairly tale, written in the early Heian period by an unknown man. It tells the history of a baby found inside a bamboo trunk. As she grows older, she has become so beautiful to be called Kaguyahime (shining princess). Many aristocrats of Kyoto wanted to get married with her but each time she avoided the proposal by demanding an object impossible to get. One day, she confessed to be originated from the moon and had gone up to the heaven.

Kaieki

kaieki jyohuu dannzetsu toritsubushi
alternative words: Jofu, Jofuu, Toritsubusi, Suppression of daimyo, Declassment of daimyo, Dismissal of daimyo
keywords: law
related topics: Buke shohatto , Daimyo , Samurai , Ronin , Toyotomi Hideyoshi , Edo shogunate
explanation: The most severe punishment applied to samurai which consists to suppress their feuds. Usually applied when samurai had lost a war, Toyotomi Hideyosh used it for political reasons such as incompetence. Tokugawa Hidetada codified the conditions of kaieki for daimyo by creating Buke shohatto law. The famous example is kaieki of Fukushima Masanori: he lost his feud after modifying his castle without authorization. After a huge increase of ronin due to kaieki, Edo shogunate became more clement.

Kaisho

kaishyo unnjyoujyo
alternative words: Unjojo, Trading post
keywords: northern territory
related topics: Matsumae domain , Edo period , Ezochi , Santan people
explanation: During Edo period, several dozens of trading posts had been opened on Hokkaido, south Kurils and south Sakhalin by Matsumae domain, where indigenous people (Ainu, Kamchadal, Nivkhi, Guiliyak or Orochin) and Japanese merchants were allowed to trade securely under the control of Matsumae officials. In 1806 and 1807, Russian frigates attacked Japanese trading posts of south Sakhalin and south Kurils to oust Japanese from the region.

Kaiten

ninngenngyoraikaitenn kaitenn
alternative words: Human torpedo kaiten, Human torpedo
keywords: weapon, world war 2
related topics: Kamikaze
related web sites: http://www2s.biglobe.ne.jp/~k_yasuto/album.htm , http://www.yasukuni.or.jp/museum/hall/kaiten.html , http://www2.ocn.ne.jp/~manabi/tokuyama/kaiten.htm
explanation: Human torpedo used by Japanese imperial navy at the last stage of world war II: the torpedo is guided by a pilot and explodes with him at the target. The total length 15m, diameter 1m, it owns a periscope and 1.6 ton of explosive. Initially proposed in 1943 by lieutenants Nishina and Kuroki, the plan was first rejected due to its consequence, but finally adopted in 1944 because of a hopeless situation. 4 training bases were created in Yamaguchi and Oita prefectures with 400 apparatus.

Kakemono

kakemono kakemono kakejiku
alternative words: Kakejiku
keywords: art, thing
related topics: Heian period , Muromachi period , Tokonoma , Japanese calligraphy
related web sites: http://kakejikudou.web.fc2.com
explanation: Picture put on a luxurious role paper and admired while vertically hung on the wall. Introduced during Heian period to Japan as a practical mean to represent Buddhist figures, it had become a medium for any pictures or calligraphy thanks to a development of "tokonoma" in Muromachi period. Being easily interchangeable following a seasonal change, it has become very popular in traditional houses. Don't confuse with "makimono" which should be scrolled horizontally.

Kamaboko

kamaboko
keywords: food
related topics: New year , Heian period , Muromachi period
related web sites: http://www.zenkama.com , http://www.kibun.co.jp
explanation: A food made with paste of white flesh fish such as pollack then steamed on a board after being mixed with salt and starch. The origin of Kamaboko is very old because it appeared already in Heian period: it consists to grill fish paste around bamboo stick so it looks like the actual "Chikuwa". Kamaboko on board appeared during Muromachi period though its name still suggests the initial form, i.e. "cattail halberd". Kamaboko is especially appreciated during the new year festival.

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