Finished my first course in Japanese language, so here’s a celebratory post.
TSUKUBAI つ くば い Ryōan-ji tsukubai. The kanji written on the surface of the stone are without significance when read alone. If each is read in combination with 口 , which the central bowl is meant to represent, then the characters become 吾, 唯, 足, 知. This is read as “ware, tada taru shiru” and translates literally as “I only know enough” (吾= I, 唯 = merely, 足 = be sufficient, 知 =know).
KOKESHI こけし Japanese dolls, dated as far as the early 19th century (Edo Period 1600–1868). They were first made in northern Japan and were presumably sold primarily to onsen guests. Traditional kokeshi dolls are particular in their shape and patterns to a certain area, while creative kokeshi developed after World War II allow artists complete freedom.
KIMONO きもの translates as “thing to wear” and is a broad term identifying garments in general. Nowadays it is associated with the formal silk robe worn on traditional occasions. Kimono differ in style and color depending on the occasion on which it is worn and the age and marital status of the person wearing it.
YUKATA ゆかた have the same basic design as kimono, but are made from cotton. Yukata have fewer variations than a kimono; the sleeves are never elongated, the collars are never wide or layered, and the patterning is usually repeated and rarely asymmetrical.
HANAMI はなみ literally flower watching (hana – flower, miru – to watch).
OKOBO おこぼ are wooden sandals worn by maiko (apprentice geisha) during their apprenticeship.
OBON おぼん is one of the most important Japanese traditions. People believe that their ancestors’ spirits come back to their homes to be reunited with their family during Obon and pray for the spirits.
TAIKO た いこ meaning drum in Japanese. Often associated with a relatively recent art-form of ensemble taiko drumming. The performances can last between 5 and 25 minutes and typically follow a jo-ha-kyū structure, which means the performance will speed up significantly towards the grand finale.
GAGAKU ががく – Japanese court music, the oldest continuous orchestral music in the world today, with a history in Japan of more than 1300 years. The term gagaku itself, which means elegant or ethereal music, refers to a body of music that includes both dance (bugaku) and orchestral music (kangengaku). More here.
DARUMA だるまare dolls which are a representation of the Indian priest Bodhidharma, a sage who is credited with establishing Zen Buddhism in Japan. At New Year time, many Japanese individuals and corporations buy a Daruma doll, make a resolution, and then paint in one of the eyes. If, during the year, they are able to achieve their goal, they paint in the second eye.
WAGASHI わがしWagashi are traditional Japanese confections made of bean paste, rice and fruits that evolved into an art form in the ancient Imperial capital, Kyoto.
SHODOU しょどう Japanese calligraphy, or “the way of writing” is widely practiced by people of all ages and all walks of life in Japan. Indeed, all Japanese children have to learn the basics of calligraphy as part of their elementary school education.