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NIPPONIA No.34 September 15, 2005

O-hagi are made by steaming glutinous rice, forming it into balls, then coating the balls with sweetened red bean paste. They are offered in a religious ritual during the autumn equinox. This confectionary resembles the flower of the Japanese bush clover (hagi), which may explain how it got its name.
When typhoons come (Ni-hyaku toka)
Under the old Japanese calendar, spring begins on a day called Risshun, which corresponds approximately to February 4. Two hundred and ten days (ni-hyaku toka) after that date brings us to early September, around the time typhoons tend to arrive. That day in September is called Ni-hyaku toka (210th day). This is a critical time because the rice plants are flowering, and typhoons can damage the crop and cause plenty of other destruction. Festivals are held in many parts of the country in the hope that there will be no wind damage. (A typhoon originating in the western Pacific is defined as a tropical low-pressure system with a wind speed near its center of at least 17.2 meters per second.) Typhoons also cause flooding, and can raise the ocean level, as well. (Photo credit: JTB Photo)

The 15th night (Jugoya)
The 15th night of the 8th month (old calendar) was supposed to have the year's most beautiful moon. On this night, people would throw moon-viewing parties, eat refreshments like dango dumplings and taro, drink saké and celebrate the coming of autumn. Decorations included cut plants representing autumn, such as susuki (Japanese pampas grass). In some districts, this was also a time to have a festival of thanks for a good harvest, or to honor deceased relatives at their graves. Tasty offerings for the dead may be pilfered by children, and it is customary to joke about this. (Photo: Haga Yashiro, Haga Library)

Disaster Prevention Day (Bosai no Hi)
The Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923 devastated Tokyo and surrounding areas on September 1. This date was designated Disaster Prevention Day in 1960, to stress the need to learn from that and other earthquakes. Typhoons also strike at this time of year, and exercises conducted on September 1 aim to prepare people for all natural disasters. Throughout Japan, municipal governments organize exercises and drills for firefighting squads, local residents, companies and other groups. (Photo credit: The Mainichi Newspapers Co.)

The week of the autumn equinox (Aki no Higan)
The equinox occurs around September 23 (Shubun no Hi), and the seven-day period straddling this day is called Aki no Higan. (In the spring, the corresponding Haru no Higan occurs approximately from March 18 to 24. See page March 18th to 24th.) This is a time for Buddhist ceremonies at temples, and a time to hold a memorial service at the graves of deceased relatives, to dust and tidy the household Buddhist altar, and to make some kind of offering. Photo: A family visiting the grave of their ancestors.(Photo: Haga Hideo, Haga Library)

Disaster Prevention Day(See photo)
Around the 1st
Ni-hyaku toka, the time of typhoons
(See photo and description)
1st to 3rd
Kaze no Bon Festival, in Yatsuo-machi, Toyama Prefecture
Kaze means wind, and bon refers to o-bon festivals. Festivals to ward off wind damage are held in Japan on the day called Ni-hyaku toka. This is one of the most interesting. The mournful notes of the shamisen, taiko drums and kokyu (Chinese fiddle) blend together to accompany graceful dances that last throughout the night and create an element of mystery.
2nd Saturday and Sunday of the month
Setomono Matsuri (Ceramics Festival), in Seto, Aichi Prefecture
Choyo no Sekku
One of the five sekku seasonal festivals of Chinese origin (See January 7th). It is held on the 9th day of the 9th month—both of these are odd numbers, making the day particularly auspicious. The day is also called Kiku no Sekku (Chrysanthemum Festival), because of the Chinese tradition of drinking chrysanthemum wine on this festive occasion to ward off evil spirits. Even now there is a custom of exhibiting and viewing chrysanthemum flowers at this time.
Shirakawa Chochin (paper lanterns) Festival, at Kashima Shrine, Fukushima Prefecture
14th and 15th
Kishiwada Danjiri Festival, in Kishiwada, Osaka Prefecture
Iwashimizu Festival,
at Iwashimizu Hachiman Shrine, Yahata, Kyoto Prefecture
15th to 21st
Respect for the Elderly Day initiates a week of activities for older adults
17th and 18th
Tono Festival, at Tono-go Hachiman Shrine, Iwate Prefecture
3rd Monday of September
Respect for the Elderly Day
A national holiday to honor elderly people and extend them wishes for a long life. Municipal governments and other entities organize events to show solidarity with the elderly. In the home, family members show respect for parents and grandparents and wish them many more years of good health.
18th (in 2005) (old calendar:August 15th)
Jugoya, get-togethers to enjoy moon viewing (See photo)
The Sunday on or following the 19th
Nakizumo ("baby cry" sumo), at Ikiko Shrine, Kanuma, Tochigi Prefecture
Two men from the community served by the shrine dress up as sumo wrestlers. Each man holds up a baby in his arms and calls out "Yoisho, yoisho!" The baby who cries first is the winner.
20th to 26th
Be Kind to Animals Week
20th to 26th (approximate)
Aki no Higan (Week of the Autumn Equinox) (See photo and description)
21st to 30th (approximate)
Autumn National Campaign for Transportation Safety
23rd (approximate)
Autumn Equinox


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