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Kasuga Shrine in Nara...

A topic area to discuss whatever comes to mind from personal stories to images of your most recent holiday.
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Re: Kasuga Shrine in Nara...

Postby souldeep » Wed Aug 17, 2016 5:15 pm


What a fascinating story you have just shared.

These types of posts make we want to return to the forum again and again. Through Netsuke we grow in our understanding and knowledge of Japanese culture. A wonderful contribution - thank you.

I cross my fingers that we may see more examples - however with such rarity - I would be surprised. You may have a totally unique subject piece here.
Piglet: "Pooh?" Pooh: "Yes, Piglet?" Piglet: "I've been thinking..." Pooh: "That's a very good habit to get into to, Piglet." - A.A. Milne.

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Re: Kasuga Shrine in Nara...

Postby jbjtennyo » Wed Aug 17, 2016 5:49 pm

Thank you for telling this story, Reinhard. I am not at all familiar with it, and look forward to finding out more. There is a similar celebration in Mexico which is called Dia de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, when the souls of those who have passed return to do the things they loved on this earth. It also is a huge and colorful celebration.

What a fortunate find of the straw horse netsuke, and also finding the story attached to it. These types of stories is what I love about netsuke and the Japanese traditions and culture..

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Re: Kasuga Shrine in Nara...

Postby kaibutsu » Wed Aug 17, 2016 7:39 pm

Interesting piece, puzzling tongue. I saw one other straw horse netsuke at a show (Orientations) was Masatoshi and looked like a toy, but my wife remembers that he was ‘well hung’…
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Re: Kasuga Shrine in Nara...

Postby jbjtennyo » Wed Aug 17, 2016 9:36 pm

I am wondering what is in the horse's mouth, and also what are the bowls that he stands in. It looks like it might be a container of some kind and a spoon in his mouth. Could the container be an ashes urn?

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Re: Kasuga Shrine in Nara...

Postby Oishii » Tue Aug 23, 2016 3:23 pm

Hi Reinhard,
In the Trumpf Collection there is a 'straw-horse' like the one you showed in your fascinating story.
The text fails to connect it with the Obon festival, but talks of usage in shrines and shrine festivals.
"The model of a horse with a saddlecloth. It is made up of five straw brooms, forming the legs and the head of the horse.
The horse is standing on two objects that can be interpreted as hats.
Little straw-horses were used as lucky charms all over Japan. They were sold at shrines and given as toys. The straw horses of the Province of Owari were well known. A horse made up of straw brooms may well have been used as a votive gift for a shrine festival. (...) "
How about the possible link with the following old custom : "a broom is set upside down to make leave an unwelcome visitor or a visitor who stays too long". A possible link to the Obon festival ?

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Re: Kasuga Shrine in Nara...

Postby lohrberg » Thu Jul 27, 2017 4:20 pm

Some more news about the Straw Horse Netsuke

I would like to get back to the horse made of straw as part of the Obon Festival.

Please, first read again the above post of August 17, 2016.
In Pauli's research of the Obon Festival, I found, what I think is the meaning of the straw horse netsuke. As it always is, people are often not convinced, shake their head and might do not trust me. So it is better to double check.

By coincidence I found the same explanation in a different source. This time by a far more famous personality concerning Japan: Lafcadio Hearn.

Here I have a publication by the

DuMond Buchverlag Köln (a publishing house in Cologne). The title is:
Nippon: Leben und Erlebnisse im alten Japan 1890 - 1904
Author: Lafcadio Hearn.

Hearn describes a visit to the Market of the Death (Bon-ichi) in Yokohama with his companion Akira. The market offers all those things, which are needed for Obon Festival. A variety of objects necessary for the Dead Souls are listed in detail.

I would like to quote from page 62, third last paragraph from bottom. I retranslate the German text to English.

Here we find the newly made white tatami mats for shrines and the altars. And now the WARA-UMA, horses made out of straw for the dead souls to ride on. And next the wara-ushi, tiny oxes made of straw, who have to do the heavy work in the realm of the shades for those, who passed away.

I hope there is no doubt any more about the wara-uma netsuke,


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Re: Kasuga Shrine in Nara...

Postby LUBlub » Thu Jul 27, 2017 4:55 pm

IPhone South Europe

;) I never had any doubts about what you've said ... thank you even now!
You are in my opinion one of the few important researchers of Japanese culture and traditions, in INS...
Excellence in netsuke art don't need signature or pedigree, or age, only quality, aesthetics, beauty.

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Re: Kasuga Shrine in Nara...

Postby chonchon » Thu Jul 27, 2017 11:02 pm

Agreed. Fascinating insights into the background of straw horses! Thank you.

Size is something.

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Re: Kasuga Shrine in Nara...

Postby AFNetsuke » Fri Jul 28, 2017 4:05 pm

Thanks, Reinhardt for bringing us a deeper understanding of many subjects and Japanese customs!

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