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Newsletter: Delivery Of Japan's Seasonal Tradition

Delivered on August 25, 2014
Delivery Of Japan's Seasonal Tradition [Issue 32] August 25, 2014

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Delivery Of Japan's Seasonal Tradition [Issue 32]
August 25, 2014
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Japanese Traditional Culture Promotion & Development Organization
(JTCO)
http://www.jtco.or.jp/en/

CONTENTS:

1. Seasonal Taste:
Symbol of vitality: "Kudzu"

2. News from JTCO:
New article released!: Hyuga Goishi(Huga Go Stones)


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:: 1. Seasonal Taste
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Symbol of vitality: "Kudzu"

Here is a Japanese poem "Tanka" recorded in Manyoshu, the oldest
anthology of Japan (7th-8th century).

"Oosakino Arisono Watari Haukuzuno Yukuemo Nakuya Koiwatarinamu."

Interpretation: Like a wandering kudzu vine trying to reach the ferry
landing on the rocky coast of Oosaki, without knowing what will
happen in the future, I'm wondering whether I will continue to love
you.

Kudzu, which originated in Japan, blooms with a reddish purple flower
in August and September and is regarded as one of the best seven
autumnal flowers. In summer, kudzu grows a few centimeters a day. In
old poems, this flourishing wherever it grows was used as a metaphor
for vitality, such as love which isn't easily forgotten no matter how
hard you try, or people's short-lived, ephemeral lives.

A versatile plant, the starch from kudzu's root is the core
ingredient for kudzu starch cake and kudzu starch noodles. As it
improves the circulation of the blood and warms up the body, kudzu
is used to make a famous herbal medicine for the common cold in Japan
called kakkontou. The infusion of flowers which has a sweet fragrance
helps to ease a hangover. The root is also used to make wicker
baskets and is woven to make cloth. Because the leaf contains plenty
of starch, it is eaten happily by herbivorous animals such as horses
and cows. It was very useful as an animal feed as well.

The kanji, (Chinese characters used in Japan,) for kuzdu is written as
葛. This character originated from葛藤 whose characters mean climbing
plant and wisteria. From the way the vines intertwine, 葛藤 altered to
the meaning of conflicted feelings. The pronunciation of kudzu is from
the local area called 国栖(pronounced as kudzu) by the upper stream
of Yoshino river in Nara Prefecture. The people from the Kudzu area
started to make kudzu starch and sold it. As kudzu's flower grows
upwards conversely to wisteria, it is sometimes called "Nobori Fuji"
which means climbing wisteria.

Unfortunately in North America kudzu was specified as an invasive
alien species because it is powerful and fast growing. Although it is
being eradicated there, it has been indispensable since olden times
for various uses such as a refreshing food in summer for Japanese
people.

Translation: Hitomi Kochi, reviewed by Cathrine Newman


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:: 2. News from JTCO
::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

New article released!: Hyuga Goishi(Huga Go Stones)

Hyuga Go stones are beautifully polished and have a delicate
round-shape, that are gentle to touch. They are milky white with an
intricately detailed striped pattern. They have a warm glow and shine
like jewellery. Hyuga Go stones are characteristically tough and
seldom have unsightly marks because of their hard and dense tissue.

http://www.jtco.or.jp/en/kougeihinkan/?act=detail&id=192&p=45&c=34

Translation: Mariko Maekawa, reviewed by Yoshiko Nagao


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