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【Event】Experience Japanese culture at the Wakamatsuri Festival


 




Did you know that Shinagawa in Tokyo is a "sacred place for waka poetry"?


Kamo Shinbuchi (1697-1769), a leading scholar of Japanese studies and poet of the Edo period, is buried in the Shinagawa Tokai Temple.


The "five-seven-syllables" that are now a part of our daily lives through Kimigayo and traffic slogans became a DNA rhythm for us Japanese as a result of Kamo Shinbuchi's rise to prominence in the nationalistic school of Japanese studies.


However, like the existence of Kamo Makibuchi, there are not many opportunities to study the roots of "five-seven-syllables" waka poetry.


As a creative boutique of curioswitch, "Wakamatsuri 2021" has prepared three high quality programs for all ages to enjoy waka.






In the Heian period (794-1185), aristocrats improvised waka poems and competed with each other in "uta-awase," or poetry contests. The Imperial Court Poetry Festival is held at the Imperial Palace in January every year. In the hikoukai, waka poems are recited with verses on the spot. The performers go up on a special stage, located very close to the audience.


Dressed in Heian court costumes, the hikoukai read poems by Kamo Makibuchi and poems related to the season in the formal manner.



Kuroda Soshokuten, which originated in Kyoto, gave an explanation of Heian court nobles' costumes. The audience seemed to enjoy a time of appreciation of the Heian period, the pinnacle of waka culture.


We would like to take this opportunity to thank Mr. Wadamoto, Secretary General of the Tennozu Canalside Revitalization Association, who graciously agreed to play the role of the reader and model.

 


With the cooperation of the "Tsunagu Karuta Kai" belonging to the All Japan Karuta Association, we held an exhibition match and commentary on the Hyakunin Isshu, a set of 100 poems.



The players were singer songwriter Serikana (Kizuna Karuta Kai, A-kyu 4-dan) and Ryo Nishizaki (Chairman of Kizuna Karuta Kai, A-kyu 6-dan). IKeiko Kimoto, an All Japan Karuta Association Class A certified reader and voice actress who starred in the movie "Chihayafuru," was also invited as a reader. The exhibition match unfolded with a splendid lineup.


During the match, Mr. Takashi Taguchi provided a brief commentary and explanation. Mr. Taguchi is a cousel of the Gyosei Junior & Senior High School competitive karuta club. The camera that was placed on the ceiling provided a good view of the match from above.




After the exhibition match, a talk session between the competitors, readers, and Mr. Taguchi was held. It included impressions of the match, live voice-over of the "Chihayafuru Foundation" manga by Ms. Kimoto, behind-the-scene stories of "Chihayafuru" the movie, tips of competitive karuta by Mr. Taguchi, and many other topics. We would like to thank the Chihayafuru Foundation and Mr. Amano for introducing this game.



In addition, Ms. Yuki Suetsugu, the author of "Chihayafuru," sent us a video letter! She spoke about the profound world of competitive karuta. This was a surreal experience for Chihayafuru fans.

 


A tea ceremony was held by Ms. Sosho Kobori, the second daughter of the 13th head of the Enshu Tea Ceremony Soke, Soji Kobori.

This time, haute couture Japanese sweets designed by Tadahiro Konoe were prepared by Toraya.




As a special guest, on day one, the 13th headmaster of the Enshu Tea Ceremony Soke, Soji Kobori, was invited to explain about the tea ceremony and waka poetry. On day two, TOKYO2020 fencer, Kenta Tokunan was welcomed. Tokunan brought his fencing mask and sword at the viewing of the props, which attracted the visitors who were still thrilled by the TOKYO2020 excitement.


We believe we successfully connected the two faces of Shinagawa; The site the Olympic/Paralymic games, and the site of waka poetry.

 

At the end...


The two days of fun flew by, and the event was regrettably brought to an end.


We are very grateful to be able to successfully hold this event during such time. The pandemic has made us realize that culture is an inspiration and an essential factor for people's lives. We also recognized the significance of continuing to create such opportunities as we recieved positive feedback from the guests.


Based on this year's reflections, we would like to challenge ourselves to plan and propose a more powerful event next year, so please look forward to it.


Finally, we would like to thank the Tennozu Canalside Revitalization Association and the Terada Warehouse for generously lending us the B&C HALL. The B&C HALL is a modern space in the Tennozu area where many fashion brands and art exhibitions are held. We would also like to thank the Shinagawa Ward for taking in the Niwaka Festival as part of the "Shinagawa Cultural Program Promotion Project.





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