Tag Archives: japanese

Symbols #35: Pagoda

Pagodas are tower-like structures often characterized by multiple eaves stacked on top of another. Seen throughout Asia, pagodas are adaptations of India’s Buddhist stupas, which were initially built to house the remains and relics of the Buddha. As Buddhism spread throughout Asia, stupas became a vital feature of Buddhist temples and their traditional dome shape slowly evolved into what we now know as a pagoda. Similar to stupas, pagodas were initially used to hold Buddhist relics, though many have since lost this function. The number of eaves on a pagoda sometimes has a symbolic meaning. In Japan, for example, it’s common to see pagodas built with five different tiers. These represent nature’s five elements: earth, fire, water, wind, and space.

Symbols #28: Jizo

Jizo is a Bodhisattva in Japanese Mahayana Buddhism, originally known in Sanskrit as Ksitigarbha. He is worshipped primarily in East Asia, where statues of his likeness can be spotted on roadsides. He is often depicted as a shaven-headed monk with child-like features and a large cloak.

Revered for his self-sacrifice, Jizo is said to have delayed nirvana in order to help others. He is a guardian of travelers and firefighters. He keeps watch over the souls of children, especially those who pass away before their parents.

Symbols #16: Dragons

From St. George’s famous battle in the bible to the colorful creatures spotted in Chinese New Year parades, dragons appear all over the world and throughout history. While dragons are often depicted in the West as ferocious monsters, in the East they have different connotations. In Chinese folklore, dragons are auspicious creature symbolizing strength, life, and prosperity. Chinese, Japanese, and Korean legends associate them with water realms, where they serve as guardians of rivers, oceans, and rain. In Hinduism and Buddhism, mythical and semi-divine serpent beings known as Naga are occasionally portrayed as dragons.

Creation Myths #6: The Japanese

“Long ago all the elements were mixed together with one germ of life. This germ began to mix things around and around until the heavier part sank and the lighter part rose. A muddy sea that covered the entire earth was created. From this ocean grew a green shoot. It grew and grew until it reached the clouds and there it was tranformed into a god. Soon this god grew lonely and it began to create other gods. The last two gods it made, Izanagi anf Izanami, were the most remarkable.
One day as they were walking along they looked down on the ocean and wondered what was beneath it. Izanagi thrust his staff into the waters and as he pulled it back up some clumps of mud fell back into the sea. They began to harden and grow until they became the islands of Japan.

The two descended to these islands and began to explore, each going in different directions. They created all kinds of plants. When they met again they decided to marry and have children to inhabit the land. The first child Izanami bore was a girl of radiant beauty. The gods decided she was too beautiful to live in Japan, so they put her up in the sky and she became the sun. Their second daughter, Tsuki-yami, became the moon and their third and unruly son, Sosano-wo, was sentenced to the sea, where he creates storms.

Later, their first child, Amaterasu, bore a son who became the emperor of Japan and all the emperors since then have claimed descent from him.”

Source: https://www.cs.williams.edu/~lindsey/myths/myths_17.html

Spirited Away

Spirited Away is a 2001 Japanese-animated fantasy film written and directed by Hayao Miyazaki, animated by Studio Ghibli for Tokuma Shoten, Nippon Television Network, Dentsu, Buena Vista Home Entertainment, Tohokushinsha Film, and Mitsubishi. The film stars Rumi Hiiragi, Miyu Irino, Mari Natsuki, Takeshi Naito, Yasuko Sawaguchi, Tsunehiko Kamijō, Takehiko Ono, and Bunta Sugawara. Spirited Away tells the story of Chihiro Ogino, a 10-year-old girl who, while moving to a new neighbourhood, enters the world of Kami. After her parents are turned into pigs by the witch Yubaba, Chihiro takes a job working in Yubaba’s bathhouse to find a way to free herself and her parents and return to the human world. Miyazaki wrote the script after he decided the film would be based on the 10-year-old daughter of his friend Seiji Okuda, the movie’s associate producer, who came to visit his house each summer. At the time, Miyazaki was developing two personal projects, but they were rejected.”

Source: https://duckduckgo.com/?q=spirited+away&ia=web&iax=about