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  • Thumbnail for Stores, an arcade of shops
    Stores, an arcade of shops

    This is a photograph of a typical shopping arcade; such arcades are fairly common in Japanese cities. The arcade is three or four blocks long, is covered by the roof the entire length of the arcade, and, of course, is open only to foot traffic and bicycles. The variety of shops in the arcade is great and includes, in the instance of this specific arcade, the following shops, as well as others --hard ware store, fish market, fruit and vegetable shops, pharmacy / variety store, McDonald's restaurant, beauty shop, clothing stores, tea ware gallery, pachinko parlor, bread bakery shop, Mister Donut shop, and a 100-Yen store (a bargain store). [other images in this colletion will show some of these individual shops]

  • Thumbnail for Shinto shrine, Shichigosan Day, Hachiman Shrine, Morioka
    Shinto shrine, Shichigosan Day, Hachiman Shrine, Morioka

    As described in image 000058, this young boy has been brought to the Hachiman Shrine in Morioka, for the celebration of Shichigosan, Seven-five-three Day, when prayers are offered for the good fortune of girls who are seven or three years old and for boys who are five years old. This young lad, hoping that his father takes the photo quickly, because the sun in his eyes is bright, is dressed in his best formal traditional dress.

  • Thumbnail for Printed fortunes and prayers, omikuji, at Shinto shrine
    Printed fortunes and prayers, omikuji, at Shinto shrine

    These are folded pieces of paper with printed fortunes or prayers on them, obtained at the local shrine. They are tied here and left at the Shinto shrine in the hope that the kami of the shrine will help to make the fortune come true or help to fulfill the prayer.

  • Thumbnail for Poster, Changing Roles, Japan, 1998
    Poster, Changing Roles, Japan, 1998

    This poster was photographed in front of a post office in Japan in 1998. The red triangular motif in the lower left is the logo for the "Peace People Japan." The interesting aspect, of course, is the depiction of a young woman, dressed in uniform, with wrenches in hand as she approaches a helicoptor. While much of Japan remains bound by tradition and roles defined by tradition, there is also far reaching social change occurring, with redefinitions of gender roles, etc.

  • Thumbnail for Shoes are removed on entering a Japanese home
    Shoes are removed on entering a Japanese home

    As one enters a Japanese home, one removes one's shoes in the entry way foyer, then steps up into the house, stepping into slippers that are worn only in the house. If one is visiting, the street shoes usually would be left on the floor in the foyer, with the shoe toes pointed away from the interior of the house, so that they can be stepped into easily as one leaves. If it is one's own home, the shoes usually would be placed in the cabinet next to the step. -- This custom has to do with the ideals of "purity," not allowing "dirt" from the outside to enter the house. This includes not only physical dirt but also, just as importantly, it includes the ideal of leaving psychic and emotional involvements with the outside world as one enters the sanctity of the home. In that sense, the removal of one's shoes is a symbolic separation from the concerns of the everyday world as one enters one's home.

  • Thumbnail for Traditional Shinto wedding at Itsukushima Shrine
    Traditional Shinto wedding at Itsukushima Shrine

    The bride and groom join a small group, presumably their parents and immediate families. The Shinto wedding ceremony is typically attended only by a small group of immediate family or very close relatives and friends. After the ceremony there will be a reception banquet which may include a very large number of friends, co-workers, etc. -- It is interesting to note that, with one exception, all of the women in the group are attired in traditional kimono, while all of the men (except for the groom, of course) are wearing western style clothing.

  • Thumbnail for Torii gate
    Torii gate

    Stone torii gate at the entrance to the main shrine at Miyajima.

  • Thumbnail for Shrine at Miyajima
    Shrine at Miyajima

    A view into one of the sanctuaries/worship areas at the main shrine at Miyajima. Only priests or shrine maidens would be allowed inside.

  • Thumbnail for Festival -- ommatsuri, fall festival, Morioka, image 4.
    Festival -- ommatsuri, fall festival, Morioka, image 4.

    This float,a portable shrine, is from the Hachiman Shrine in Morioka. It is carried from the shrine through the streets on the shoulders of bearers as seen here and is, obviously, a heavy burden. Of secondary interest is the stone wall / embankment that is seen in the background. This is now a park, but was formerly the site of Morioka Castle, which was ordered destroyed in the Meiji era.

  • Thumbnail for Printed fortunes left at a temple as prayers
    Printed fortunes left at a temple as prayers

    A printed prayer or fortune, an omikuji , obtained at a shrine or a temple, may be tied to a line or, often, to a branch, in effect, as a prayer to the deity of the shrine or temple, seeking their aid in bringing it true. This line of such fortunes is at Muroji, a Buddhist temple in the countryside in Nara Prefecture. Although they are most commonly seen at Shinto shrines, this group is at a Buddhist temple. Keywords: omikuji , fortune see also: ecasia000035, 000059

  • Thumbnail for Noh play, performance on outdoor stage, Chusonji, Hiraizumi
    Noh play, performance on outdoor stage, Chusonji, Hiraizumi

    Each November there is a performance of a Noh play on an outdoor stage that is on the grounds of Chusonji, at Hiraizumi in Iwate Prefecture. This image is of the performance in the fall, 2000. -- The two stage props seen here are unusual in their elaborateness; noh stages are usually totally bare of props or, if there is a prop, it usually is simpler than is the case here. The several musicians used in noh , e.g., stick drummer, hand drummers, traverse flute player, are along the rear wall of the stage. Out of the photo, on the right, along the edge of the stage, are the members of the chorus who narrate the play. Noh drama, itself, in its form, in its lack of scenery, use of masks for the main actor in most plays, etc., reflects the austere suggestion, the minimalism of Ashikaga aesthetics. The brilliant robe of the shite , the main actor, reflects the addition of a decorative element, probably from the Momoyama period. The painting of the pine on the rear wall of the stage (and bamboo above the musicians' "coming in door" on the right) is a convention found on every noh stage -- it is said that the pine derives from the great pine tree at the Kasuga Shrine, Nara.

  • Thumbnail for Map of the world from a Japanese perspective
    Map of the world from a Japanese perspective

    On a first level, there is some gentle humour in the discovery that, as illustrated by this map, not all of the world regards North America as being the center of the world. -- More important, however, are the clocks above the map showing, of course, the time at various other locations around the world. There is, in this, concrete expression of an international awareness on the part of the Japanese. This international awareness characterizes much of Japanese culture today, just as it has at important junctures in the history of the Japanese. -- The map and clock, in fact, are located in a building in Morioka that is the International Center of Morioka, devoted to the development of international ties and understanding. Morioka is a medium-sized city, by Japanese standards, with perhaps 300,000 residents, and it is located in Iwate prefecture, in far northern Honshu. Yet, even there, one finds a conscious effort to encourage an international perspective. Perhaps not coincidentally, many foreign students, especially students from the third world, come to Morioka to study at Iwate University, the prefectural university, which is renowned for it experimental work and leadership in the area of rice horticulture.

  • Thumbnail for Noh stage, National Theatre, Tokyo
    Noh stage, National Theatre, Tokyo

    This is the Noh stage at the National Theatre in Tokyo, photographed after a performance in December, 2000. Off to the left, out of the photo here, is the bridge, the hashigakari , along which the actors (rarely more than three) enter the stage and exit the stage. Constructed of unpainted wood, probably hinoki cypress, without curtains or scenery, the stage design is rooted in the utter simplicity of Ashikaga aesthetics, which was, of course, extraordinarily sophisticated in its focus on essences. This type of simplicity is very difficult to achieve, as any artist will attest to. -- All noh stages are identical in size and configuration and all have only one permanent element of decoration -- the pine tree on the back wall of the stage, seen also, e.g., at the noh stage at Hiraizumi (image ecasia000005).

  • Thumbnail for Traditional Shinto wedding at Itsukushima Shrine
    Traditional Shinto wedding at Itsukushima Shrine

    A young couple (also seen in ecasia000861) married in a traditional Shinto wedding at the major shrine of Itsukushima, on Miyajima, near Hiroshima. They are attired in traditional formal dress for the Shinto ceremony and as they walk to greet their families they are protected by the traditional parasol carried by an attendant. -- It is frequently said that Japanese persons are “Married Shinto, Buried Buddhist.†In fact, that is very often true and simply speaks of the co-mingling of Shintoism and Buddhism in Japan, where most persons probably regard themselves as being both Shinto and Buddhist, without the sense of exclusivity of beliefs that one might find common in western cultures.

  • Thumbnail for Contemporary wedding in a hotel
    Contemporary wedding in a hotel

    This wedding couple, in their decidedly non-traditional attire, in a hotel, where their wedding was held, present an interesting comparison with the wedding parties seen in images soc000745 and ecasia000861. -- The wedding ceremony is one of many areas in which one may see a remarkable range of cultures and mixing of cultures, old and new, etc. Many couples today continue to be married in the ancient and indigenous Shinto tradition, often at a traditional shrine but also sometimes in a hall at a hotel, with the hall having been designated as a shrine to provide a proper setting for Shinto wedding ceremonies. Some couples today, being Christian, are married in a Christian ceremony in a church or, sometimes, again, in a “wedding hall†in a hotel. Today it is not unusual for a couple to be wed in a Christian church or in a Christian ceremony in a hotel wedding hall, even though they may be non-Christians.

  • Thumbnail for Neighborhood Public Hall
    Neighborhood Public Hall

    This is in the basement of the Ueda Kominkan, the Public Hall in the neighborhood of the Earlham House. The case holds an array of porcelain/ceramic dishes that could be used by community members if they were to rent the room for a function. The small girl standing in front is Sakurakko, our Program Associate’s daughter.

  • Thumbnail for Ryoanji, rock garden
    Ryoanji, rock garden

    Yet another quiet day at the famous rock garden at Ryoanji...

  • Thumbnail for Festival -- ommatsuri, fall festival, Morioka, image 2.
    Festival -- ommatsuri, fall festival, Morioka, image 2.

    This is the rear of a float in the fall festival parade of the Hachiman Shrine in Morioka. The drummers produce a powerful rhythm on the taiko drums, literally, "large drums." Individual floats are associated with neighborhoods of the city. Late into the night, after the parade of all of the floats on the main street, one can hear chants of celebration as individual floats are pulled through their "home" neighborhoods, which is done for the benefit of sick or elderly who could not leave their homes to attend the festival parade.

  • Thumbnail for Jizo statues at a temple in Kamakura
    Jizo statues at a temple in Kamakura

    A Jizo is a Buddhist bodhisattva (bosatsu) who is the guardian of the souls of children who have died, as young children or in birth. Persons wishing to offer a prayer for the care of a child often bring a bib or apron or cap to dress one of the Jizo statues, as they ask that it care for the soul of the child in their prayers. These rows of Jizo figures are at the temple, Hasedera, where there is a hall dedicated to Jizo.

  • Thumbnail for Printed fortune cabinet at a temple
    Printed fortune cabinet at a temple

    For a donation of 100 yen, one may obtain a printed fortune, an omikuji . The black case contains a collection of sticks, each with a number on it. There is a small hole in the lid of the case. One would pick up the case, shake it to mix up the sticks, then turn the case upside down and shake one stick out through the hole in the lid. The number on that stick would direct one to one of the numbered drawers in the cabinet next to the table, where one would find one's fortune. A good fortune may be tied to a line, in effect, as a prayer to the deity of the shrine or temple, seeking their aid in bringing the fortune true. Very commonly seen at shrines, this particular cabinet is at Muroji, a Buddhist temple. Keywords: omikuji see also: ecasia000037

  • Thumbnail for Haiku poetry image enters the 21st century
    Haiku poetry image enters the 21st century

    In the last half of the 17th c., Basho, the great master of the haiku form, wrote "On the withered bough/ A crow has alighted/ Nightfall in autumn." -- In this photo, captured on a chilly, damp autumn evening in northern Honshu, we can sense the spirit of Basho's poem translated into the 21st century. -- keywords: aesthetics, poetry, literature, haiku, Basho

  • Thumbnail for School -- Teachers' room in a middle school
    School -- Teachers' room in a middle school

    This is the teachers' room in a new middle school in Japan. Teachers in Japan do not have individual offices or spaces connected with their classrooms. Rather, all of the teachers on one floor of a school building have individual desks and class preparation space together in one large room, where they work after the school day and during free class periods during the day.

  • Thumbnail for Hiroshima:  View of the reborn city today  --  Skyline beyond the Peace Memorial Park
    Hiroshima: View of the reborn city today -- Skyline beyond the Peace Memorial Park

    In this view from the Peace Memorial Museum, in the middle distance we see the Cenotaph, the memorial to the victims of the atomic bomb, and in the distance beyond it, the Atomic-bomb Dome. The buildings of the reborn city of Hiroshima push in around the Peace Park, perhaps encroaching somewhat but perhaps also serving as a celebration of the resurgence of the city in the aftermath of the atomic attack. Very striking and perhaps seemingly incongruous are the “H†shaped structures to the right behind the Atomic-bomb Dome in this view – these are the light stanchions of Hiroshima Stadium, the home of the Hiroshima Carp baseball team, a major league team of the Central League. The stadium is just across the street from the northern entrance to the Peace Park and is perhaps two hundred yards from the Atomic-bomb Dome.

  • Thumbnail for Traditional Shinto wedding
    Traditional Shinto wedding

    This young couple were married in the traditional Shinto ceremony at the famous Itsukushima shrine on Miyajima Island in the Inland Sea, near Hiroshima. They are wearing traditional formal dress for the Shinto ceremony.

  • Thumbnail for Japanese house, entryway
    Japanese house, entryway

    The front entrance of my host family’s house. Upon entering the house, family members shout “Tadaima!†(I’m home!) to announce their arrival, and remove their shoes. In the display case on the left are a box of artificial flowers, baskets with travel-size tissue packets, and wooden puzzle-sculptures that my host brother, age 7, had made. On the right, the behind the two closed sliding doors is a compartment where my family stores their winter shoes/boots during the summer, lightweight shoes during the summer to conserve storage space.