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This series of four painted scrolls is an attempt to depict the everyday life of Japanese people. The first two scrolls show the changing seasons and the festivals that accompany them; essentially these scrolls are about the outer forces affecting people's lives, the tragedies wrought by wind and water, for example, the festivals inspired by Japan's religious and cultural history, and the year end observances. The third scroll, titled "The Lifetime of Man", depicts the joys and sorrows of life from birth until death. The final scroll is one day in the life of a modern city through the experience of a girl working in a typical Japanese office.
Throughout Japanese art history, picture scrolls have been a medium for the telling of stories and the recording of important events. A number of very early scrolls – such as the Tale of Genji picture scrolls (Item A-2-5-1) – are still preserved and they are considered to be among Japan's greatest artistic treasures. The scrolls in the capsule are in traditional format, only the materials have been modified so as to make the scrolls durable for 5,000 years. The paper is ganpi washi specially made by Naruko Saichiro; the pigments are dispersed in fine glass powder. Each scroll is 30cm wide by 7.2m long. The scrolls were painted by Professor Okumura Koichi of the Kyoto Municipal College of Fine Arts, with the assistance of his students.
This charming festival, now held annually on March 3rd, reached its present form in the 16th century. Its costoms can be traced back to several ancient religious observances, including a festival that was held on the first snake day of the third month in the lunar calendar.
Some days prior to the festival, young girls arrange a set of dolls in their home. These dolls, dressed in the style of the Japanese Heian period court, are arranged on a dais coverd with a red cloth. A complete set of hina dolls consists of the dairi-sama (prince and princess), seated at the top of the dais, and groups of ladies-in-waiting, ministers and musicians on successive levels. Accompanying them are miniature sets of lacquered dishs, chests, carriages of state (kago and ox-drawn kuruma) and vases of peach blossom.
This display is the focal point of tea parties at which the little girls and their friends drink shirozake (sweet, unrefined sake) and eat special sweets and savoury dishes for which the colour scheme is green and pink – a further reference to the fact that day is also called the Peach Festival (momo no sekku).
Since 1948, Childresn's Day has been a national holiday dedicated to boys and girls alike but the traditional celebration held on the fifth day of the fifth month is, and has been for many centuries, for boys alone. Called Tango no sekku, this boy's festival involves two observances: the flying of large carpshaped banners (one for each son) on tall pole, and a display of miniature armour, military dolls and banners. The origins of there customs lie in the traditional Japanese masculine ideals of bravery and determination to overcome all difficulites. The carp, which fights its way against the stream, is a fitting symbol. The armour and dolls remind young boys of the bravery of ancient warriors.
In the Nara period, this day was designated as the Iris Festival (shobu no sekku) and elements of this festival still survive in floral displays and the preparations of sake containing chopped iris leaves. The iris leaf resembles a sword-blade in shape and when it is infused in sake it is said to be stimulating to the warrior spirit.
The contents of this site are excerpted from THE OFFICIAL RECORD OF TIME CAPSULE EXPO'70(March 1975). Please note that company and organization names may differ from those of the current ones.
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