tradition

10 of the best gift shops in Kyoto

There are thousands of interesting shops selling traditional goods in Kyoto. But now there are a few that are standing head and shoulders above the rest, offering unique goods that even Japanese customers can’t wait to get their hands on. By combining traditional techniques with modern, contemporary designs, these businesses represent the best of the changing face of Kyoto, a vibrant city in the traditional capital.

In this article, we take a look at ten unique stores and their adorable products. The only trouble will be deciding what to buy!

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Mercedes Benz measures the brains activity of Zen monks to evaluate their new car【Video】

Given Mercedes Benz’s reputation for luxury, it’s tempting to dismiss the automaker’s cars as being strictly for trust fund sorority girls or high-flying lawyers who just made partner.

Mercedes does have quite a bit of performance cred too, though, particularly for its extra-sporty cars that bear the mark of AMG, the company’s in-house tuning and motorsports division. But while you can find plenty of driving enthusiasts who get excited by the cars coming out of Stuttgart, in a new video Mercedes tries to stir the hearts of a new demographic: Zen monks.

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A new take on an old tradition, these amazing Obon figures are literally fresh!

As we’ve previously mentioned, it’s Obon this week in Japan, and that means festivals, dancing, and ancestral spirits galore! Far from being the terrifying ghosts that you might find lurking in your closest in a horror film like Juon, however, these are spirits that Japanese people are happy to welcome into their houses. In addition to ohakamairi, or visiting graves, Japanese people also offer symbolic sacrifices at their home alters.

Some of the more interesting traditional sacrificial items are the cucumber horses (kyuri uma) and eggplant cows (nasu ushi) meant to carry the ancestors’ spirits to and from our earthly realm, but here’s one designer’s awesome, modern take on this ancient custom!

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Omiyamairi: How Japan welcomes babies into the world

In Japan, there’s a saying that goes: “Japanese people are born into Shintoism, get married as Christians and die as Buddhists.” Usually it’s meant to be a comment on Japan’s laissez-faire attitude towards religion. However, having experienced all three of these life events in Japan, it’s a surprisingly accurate aphorism.

In the case of birth, after one month it’s common practice in Japan to take the baby a Shinto shrine for its Hatsumiyamairi (literally “first shrine visit”) often shortened to Omiyamairi. Like weddings and funerals, these ceremonies can differ greatly depending on the region, so I thought I’d share my own recent experience at an Omiyamairi to shed some light on this lesser-known Japanese tradition.

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Our Reporter Learns a Thing or Two about Buying Good Luck Charms in Japan…

Tori no Ichi is an open-air market festival held in Japan on the day of the Rooster in November, as determined by the Chinese calendar. At the festivals, markets are set up in front of or near to Shinto shrines, and charms- most often decorated bamboo rakes called kumade- that are said to bring the owner good fortune in the coming year are sold to visitors.

Kumade literally means “bear hand”, since, when you think about them, rakes are shaped rather like a large hand with claws. Rakes were chosen generations ago as a sign of good luck since they can be used to draw things– in this case wealth and good fortune– towards us, and the practice of buying ornamental rakes has been common in Japan since the Edo period (1600-1867).

Wanting to check out the lively festival and ask for continued success for the website next year, our reporter Mr. Sato headed over to the famous Hanazono shrine in Shinjuku to purchase a kumade on behalf of RocketNews24.

However, having never purchased one of the charms before, he discovered that he had more than a couple of things to learn…

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