Autumn

Autumn Hanko Festival – a Celebration of Japanese Personal Seals

Onomatopoeia

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In the building of the Rikusato branch office of the Chamber of Commerce in Ichikawa-misato City, a huge showcase displays a huge “hanko” seal. The seal is a square shape 2 meters on a side, tipping the scales at 3 tons. Read on to find out about how this huge hanko brightens the town of Ichikawa-misato!


Introduction

The four kanji character phrase “不動如山(ugo-ka-zaru-wa yama-no-gotoshi)”, meaning to be immovable as mountain, is engraved on the hanko in the showcase.

The phrase, drawn from a text by Sun Tzu, who was a military strategist of the ancient China, Takeda Shingen, an important samurai lord, used the phrase as the battle standard. He used to rule Kai Province (now Yamanashi Prefecture) and is well-known as an outstanding military strategist of the Sengoku period in the 16th century.

To my surprise, this huge hand carved seal needed the hands of 50 professional hanko engravers and other craft workers to build. It’s so big and heavy that it’s literally immovable like a mountain.

To Promote Local Industry: “Hanko” Seal Engraving

In November, there is a local event that takes place at a public primary school in the Rikusato area of Yamanashi Prefecture, hosted by the town government, the local chamber of commerce and a local industry association called the “六郷印章業連合組合(Rikusato Inshog-gyo Rengo Kumi-ai)” or Seal Engravers Guild of Rikusato. The Rikusato area has been famous for its seal “判子(hanko)” making industry since the Meiji Period (1868-1912). Now, personal seals made here accounts for more than 50% of the total seal production of the country. Japanese use these personal seals in place of signatures in their daily lives.

The seal making industry was established mainly as a result of the success in mining business in the same region. Until the 1980s, there was a quartz mine operated near the Rikusato area, whose economy relied mainly on the quartz crystal mining industry. By digging the ore of high quality quartz, workers gradually developed the skills and techniques of cutting and carving the precious stones in an artistic way. So, the skills led to the creation of a new industry: the engraving of personal “hanko” seals on quartz crystals. The government designated Traditional Craftworks List now includes the hand-carved personal seals made in Rikusato.

About the Autumn Festival

The festival serves as a good opportunity to gain publicity for the preservation of the local craftworks. For example, people can experience the process of engraving a seal by hand. Once starting to work on their own “hanko” seals with a pencil-sized chisel called “印刀(in-tou)” in their hands, participants, especially young kids, become so lost in the work of cutting grooves to create their favorite “hanko” designs.

Other than the experience event, there is a “mirror writing” competition that puts some individuals against each other in how readable their mirrored texts are when reflected on an actual mirror. Kids carry a small portable shrine with a bookshelf-sized “hanko” artwork on it, parading around the festival grounds. Some food stalls and souvenir shops create the fun festivity.

In the festival held some years ago, people created a big “pointillistic” picture by putting a number of personal “印鑑(in-kan)” seals on it. The Guinness World Record book lists the festival in the category of the “number of personal seals used in the creation of a personal seal painting”. I had never heard of such a category until I found the fact on the event homepage.

Funeral Ceremony for Hanko

Prior to the autumn festival, there is a town-organized “funeral ceremony” to mourn the “dead” hanko seals. In October, hanko seals which can’t be used any longer are gathered at a special site in the nearby park. They are cremated after a Shinto priest offers prayers and drinks for the “souls” of hanko. Local people have such a deep affection for hanko that they think it is part of their whole lives.

How to Get to the Autumn Festival

Kai-Iwama Station on the JR Minobu Line is the closest station to the festival site, which is within walking distance from the station. The Minobu Line connects Kofu, Yamanashi, and Fuji, Shizuoka. JR Central operates a limited express train service, the Wide View Fujikawa, which runs between Kofu Station and Shizuoka Station. Actually, Shizuoka Station is an interchange station with the high speed Tokaido Shinkansen Line. So come to Shizuoka Station by Shinkansen train and then take the Fujikawa express train from there. I think it’s the best way to get to the festival.

Conclusion

Near the town-run Rikusato Primary School, the site of the autumn festival, new spa facilities “Tsumugi-no-yu” have been built for visitors in and out of the town and become a popular tourist spot. Why don’t you drop by and enjoy bathing in natural hot spring baths and souvenir shopping?

All images courtesy of Yamanashi Tourism Organization

Discover Yamanashi Prefecture with its Festivals and Picturesque Mt. Fuji!

Yamanashi Prefecture, the land where Japanese traditional culture coexists and harmonizes with mesmerizing nature. Here you will feel the essence of Japanese beauty as this prefecture boasts the most famous mountain of Japan – Mt. Fuji and the outstanding five lakes. of course, this area is a place of birth if many traditional festivals and long-living traditions. The following article assembled the best festivals and activities to enjoy in Yamanashi Prefecture, which will make your trip to Japan even more rewarding!

URL: https://festivalgo.huber-japan.com/events/events/best-festivals-places-visit-yamanashi-prefecture

Check Out the Best Pick-Ups of Mt. Fuji Activities: from Festivals to Onsen Hopping!

Mt. Fuji is a symbol of Japan as it has inspired many artists and poets for centuries. You will notice why when you see this beautiful mountain in real. You can see Mt. Fuji from Tokyo and Yokohama on clear days. But it looks magnificent only when you come close to the mountain. The mountain stands on the border of Yamanashi and Shizuoka Prefectures and its surrounding is bursting with tranquil nature, great people, and amazing local food! If you are looking to have an amazing view of Mt. Fuji and enjoy its surroundings, this article will help with planning your next trip to the area. Whether you are a foodie, or a festive person, or an outdoor person, Mt. Fuji can offer something for everyone!

URL: https://festivalgo.huber-japan.com/events/events/best-pick-ups-of-mt-fuji-activities-from-festivals-to-onsen-hopping

Find Out How to Enjoy Autumn in Japan!

Autumn is one of the most beautiful seasons in Japan. This is the season of Koyo or Momijigari. Momijigari is a tradition of admiring autumn landscape, very similar to Hanami – admiring cherry blossoms in spring. If you would like to know more about autumn foliage season around Japan and find out how to adore it in a traditional Japanese way, the following article will be helpful.

URL: https://festivalgo.huber-japan.com/events/5975/

Pick the Best Autumn Foliage in Japan!

You probably know that autumn in Japan with its colorful leaves scenes is as prevalent among tourists and locals as spring with its cherry blossoms. Momiji or enjoying autumn leaves is an indispensable part of Japanese culture. I hope this article raised your interest in Japanese autumn. And the following one picked top 12 best places and events to enjoy colorful autumn leaves!
Check it out! URL: https://festivalgo.huber-japan.com/events/4274/

An Ultimate Idea Source for Your Tokyo Stay!

Most of the travelers who come to Japan enter the country through Tokyo. Even if it is not the main place of your destination, it would be a great idea to stay in the capital city for a few days. The biggest conglomerate in the world has much to offer to any kind of traveler. Whether you want to go sightseeing, shopping, eating out, or trying something special that you can experience only in Japan, Tokyo has it all. In the following article, you will find 100 things and many ideas on how to spend your time in Tokyo! Please, have a look, URL: https://festivalgo.huber-japan.com/events/7726/ 

Don`t Stay Hungry at the Festival!

Image courtesy of Tomomarusan

The food presented during Matsuri is pretty different from the one you get at the restaurants in Japan. Besides, there is a certain charm in grabbing some snack from a food stall and diving back into the festival crowd. I am sure that you will discover something new about Japanese festival food from the following article!

URL: https://festivalgo.huber-japan.com/events/5504/

Would You Like to Know How to Enjoy a Japanese Festival Even More?

A lot of people when they get to a Matsuri for the first time feel themselves a bit lost. They confuse about what is happening around. If you are new to Japanese Festivals or want to know an alternative way of how you can enjoy these events, the following article will provide you with a set of helpful tips on how to choose a proper festival and activities you should try there. Please don`t hesitate to take a look at it!

URL: https://festivalgo.huber-japan.com/events/5363/

Did You Know That There is a Festival Every Day Somewhere in Japan?

Japan is a country of festivals indeed. Matsuri is an essential part of traditional Japanese culture. Thus, every day somewhere in Japan a festival takes place. There are traditional and modern festivals, on the sea and on the ground, in summer and winter. Japanese are hardworking people. However, when you attend at least one festival in Japan, you will understand how locals like to party. The article under the link below will introduce you to a celebration on any day of the year. I am sure you will find an event that suits your interests utmost!

URL: https://festivalgo.huber-japan.com/events/6572/

Onomatopoeia

Have two kids. Teach English at an “eikaiwa” school more than a decade Love cake.

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