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Ad Blankestijn
Japan Specialist to help you navigate Japanese culture
Japan Specialist to help you navigate Japanese culture
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Seven Deities of Good Fortune in Sumida
The Sumida River circuit of the Seven Deities of Good Fortune in Tokyo is the very first of this type of New Year pilgrimages: it was devised in 1804 by Sawara Kiku, a retired curio dealer and dabbler in Chinese culture. Sawara had bought land here for a ga...

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The Seven Deities of Good Fortune (Shichifukujin)
In Japan, "Shichifukujin" are the seven gods ( kami ) who are said to bring wealth and long life. The group of these seven lucky gods consists of Ebisu, Daikokuten, Bishamonten, Benzaiten, Fukurokuju, Jurojin and Hotei. This includes gods and sages of India...

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The Year of the Rooster
2017 is the Year of the Rooster ( toridoshi ) in Japan (also translated as cock or chicken; the term denotes general barnyard fowl), the tenth year in the cycle of 12 signs from the Japanese (and originally Chinese) zodiac . The Year of the Rooster is repre...

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Best Classical Music for Christmas
When hearing the term "Christmas music" you are perhaps in the first place reminded of the tunes that are piped through muzak systems in shopping malls, restaurants and other public places already from November on - tunes you have heard so often that you re...

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The Ako Incident and the Forty-Seven Loyal Retainers (Chushingura) in fact and fiction
As I wrote in my previous post about the seasonal events of December , the last month of the year is the season that traditionally the story of the Forty-Seven Ronin (also called Chushingura , "the Treasury of Loyal Retainers," after the title of the puppet...

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Hyakunin Isshu (One Hundred Poets, One Poem Each): Poem 24 (Sugawara no Michizane)
Hyakunin Isshu, Poem 24 kono tabi wa nusa mo toriaezu Tamukeyama momiji no nishiki kami no mani mani このたびは 幣もとりあへず 手向山 紅葉のにしき 神のまにまに on my present journey I couldn't bring sacred streamers to Offering Hill so perhaps this brocade of autumn leaves is to the ...

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Best Twentieth Century Operas (5): Erich Wolfgang Korngold, Die tote Stadt (1920)
Die tote Stadt (The Dead City)  by Erich Wolfgang Korngold (1897-1957) is the last of the great fin-de-siecle Viennese operas, first performed in 1920 in Vienna and Hamburg. The city in the title refers not to Vienna, but to Bruges in Belgium, as the libret...

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Hyakunin Isshu (One Hundred Poets, One Poem Each): Poem 23 (Oe no Chisato)
Hyakunin Isshu, Poem 23 tsuki mireba chiji ni mono koso kanashikere waga mi hitotsu no aki ni wa aranedo      月見れば 千々に物こそ 悲しけれ わが身ひとつの 秋にはあらねど when I view the moon I feel the sadness of a thousand things yet it is not autumn for me alone Oe no Chisato (fl. ...

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Best European Novels (2): Germany & Switzerland
Although earlier novels exist, such as the picaresque Thirty Year War novel Simpliccimus , the German novel only really gets under way with Weimar giant Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832), who, although in the first place poet and playwright, also wrote...

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Kanzake - the season of hot sake
Years ago when I started making promotion for sake, the main "enemy" was the wrong image of the brew caused by the piping hot sake served in all too many restaurants, not only abroad, but also in Japan. For this hot sake, the cheapest kind of regular sake w...
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