Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Kanji(Chinese character) of this yerar

The Chinese Character 「新-Shin」,meaning new, was chosen in poll as the Kanji of this year. Since 1995, every year in December one Kanji has been chosen, symbolizing the events for the year. 
Why do you think “Shin” was chosen? Because in Japan and the United States, new administrations started.
In Nara there is Shin-Yakushiji Temple. According to one theory, “Shin” in the name of the temple means not new but granting prayers quickly. Healing Buddha, the main object of worship of this temple, will grant people’s wishes and prayers quickly.
If you choose one word of 2009, what word do you choose?
For further informations of Kanji of the other years, look at Wikipedia,Kanji of the year.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Why is she running?

Here running is a shrine maiden of Kasuga Grand Shrine, wearing a beautiful crown of wisteria flowers. The shrine maiden is supposed to behave gracefully. Why is she running? Because it is one of the busiest days in Kasuga Grand Shrine. The luckiest day(大安 Daian) in the old fortune-telling calendar, in which six different fortunes come in the order, falls on Sunday. So there are more ceremonial occasions than usual.

When Japanese people hold special ceremonies such as a wedding ceremony, a one- month- old baby’s blessing ceremony and so on, many of us still examine the fortune-telling calendar and choose the luckiest day which usually comes once in every six days. Many calendars and pocket diaries tell us six days cycle in the fortune-telling calendar. There are no scientific proofs at all, but this idea is deeply rooted in our DNA. Really Japan is a wonderland where the old and the new coexist side by side in harmony.

Why don’t you visit Kasuga Grand Shrine especially on the day when the luckiest day falls on Sunday or a national holiday, so you will have more chances to see happy ceremonies.

Those days are March 14th and May 4th in spring 2010.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Maybe even Shinto diety is tired.

The deity of Young Prince Shrine in Kasuga Grand Shrine, affectionately called Young Prince, travels once a year. Every year on December 17th, he comes to a temporally built traveling place (1 kilometer to the west of Young Prince Shrine) and stays here and goes back in 24 hours.

While his staying, people offer a variety of performances in front of the traveling place to please him. He enjoys entertainment of the people behind the bamboo curtain. Maybe even Shinto deity is tired of daily routines and needs to travel. In the 12th century, the country was suffering a long period of rain which caused a serious famine. People invited Young Prince to the traveling place to ask him for help. This is the origin of Honorable Festival dedicated to him. This festival is the biggest festival in Nara and also famous for the traditional procession. But, do you know how Young Prince comes to the traveling place and goes back? Ask us!
(Shinto is an indigenous religion in Japan based on nature worship.)

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The Tiger

Tiger is one of the twelve zodiac signs in Japan

Next year is the year of the tiger,so we have come to see ornaments of tigers here and there.

In Nara, there is a temple known for its papier-mache tigers. A lot of people go to this temple during the New Year holidays.

In addition, the tiger is very popular among peple in Osaka.

If you have Japanese friends who love baseball, please ask the reason



(posted by proxy)

Why are Christmas decorations everywhere?

Here are Christmas illuminations in front of a church on the Higashimuki Street near Kintetsu Nara Station. Many people stop and take pictures. This time of the year, Japan is filled with red and green decorations, and stores play Jingle Bells. Even such a small alley is decorated with modest Christmas lights.

Only one percent of Japanese population is Christian. Why are Christmas decorations erywhere?

Maybe Japanese people put a lot of emphasis on the seasons and feel the aesthetic beauty of the seasonal changes. In the old Japanese lunar calendar, besides 4 seasons, there are even 24 seasonal divisions in a year. Now Christmas is becoming the 25th seasonal division for us.
Or just are we Christmas Christian ・・・・・?

Monday, December 7, 2009

The last glow of the autumn colors

Now it is winter and colored leaves are falling down.

This year it was warmer in autumn and colors were not so impressive as I had expected.

But when I walked in the park last week the last glow of the autumn colors were gorgeous.

I tried to capture them with my cell-phone camera.

The view is from the roof of governor’s office building.

This spot will be included in one of our walking tours.



(posted by proxy)

Wednesday, December 2, 2009


This week would be the last chance to enjoy beautiful scenery decorated with colorful autumn leaves in Nara. You may enjoy beautiful red maple leaves or yellow gingko leaves.
Here are some pictures of Nara this week.

Your NARA-WALK guide will be happy to show you those photogenic points.
Rush to Nara, now!!!
Nara is a beautiful city full of both history and nature. Deer is here to greet you with a bow anytime at Nara Park.
Why don't you plan to visit Nara? November and early December would be the perfect time to enjoy beautiful Japanese autumn leaves.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Kazuo Oga Exhibition

"The world of "My Neighbour Totoro" is realized in Oga's paintings" once said Hayao Miyazaki. Kazuo Oga is the art director of "My Neighbour Totoro". In recent "Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea" and most of Studio Ghibli animations, he painted the background arts - yes that comfy backgrounds making us somehow feel at home.

In Hyogo Prefectural Museum of Art, there will be about 600 pieces of Oga's arts in display. Get warmed, relaxed and soaked in Oga's world. Afterwards come to Nara, you might find a glimpse of Totoro's forest in the primeval forest of Kasuga (forest surrounding Kasuga Taisha Shrine where we go during our daily walking tour!).

Duration: 2009.12.8 ~ 2010.2.7
closed on Mondays(Tuesday if Monday is a national holiday), Dec. 31, Jan. 1
Hours: 10:00-18:00 (Fridays and Saturdays till 20:00 except for Jan. 2)
Admission: Adult 1400yen, Grade 9 - college students 1000yen, Grade 1-9 500yen
*advance tickets sold at major train stations of Kintetsu line and other are 200-100yen cheaper.

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