Friday, April 11, 2014

Gotochi: Japanese Prefecture Postcards

As I've been so fortunate to live in Japan for the past few years,
and stumbled across the Gotochi series. 

Each prefecture (which is sort of like a county or district) 
has high quality, shaped, over-sized postcards with 
images that are symbolic of their prefecture.

As I live in Okinawa the southern most prefecture I'll start by showing you those cards.
This is the card from 2009. It shows a shisha or lion dog. You'll see these in pairs at many entries to homes and businesses. I was taught the open mouth of the pair is the male which keeps away negative spirits or energies while the closed mouth or female keeps in good spirits.
(You may see a tiny version in the top corner of the photo. If you buy 5 they give you a mini at my post office. )
This is the 2010 card which shows a goya. It is a very bumpy wonder vegetable that is often mentioned when people talk of the renowned longevity of the Okinawan people and their diet. 
The 2011 card show a Ryukyu dancer. Before Okinawa was governed by Japan it was the Ryukyu Kingdom (1429-1879). This is traditional dress for that time. The lotus hat and bingata textile dyeing technique I could go on and on about, but I'll save that detour for a future post. I will say that back then that yellow of the kimono was special to Okinawa because it was made from the bark of tree that only grew here.
The card of 2012 card is a sanshin and hibiscus. I honestly know next to nothing about this 3 string instrument other than I've been very fortunate to hear it at sunset a few rare times on my walks by the sea. A single local men sitting on a very large rock by the water plays the most serine melodies. It's also common in local summer festivals as well. The hibiscus of course is the flower of Okinawa as it blooms here all year long. (Yes, this gardener LOVES living here!)
The 2013 card shows eisa dancers. I've been fortunate to see this style of performance as a feature of festivals, but also as a side street treat. When walking one night we heard this thunderous, rhythmic sound and followed it a few blocks off the main streets to stumble across a group of eisa dancers. The chanting and drumming is contagiously uplifting. There is also an annual 10,000 eisa festival, but I prefer smaller events to giant crowds.

I do hope the 2014 card is released before we leave the island this summer. I'm excited to see what it will be. In the mean time here are a few I've collected by trading Okinawa Gotochi for those from other prefectures.

click an image to enlarge

One day I hope to go through all the lovely notes and add for you the information I've received about some of these cards. Until then hope you enjoyed another peek into my world. Oh and sorry facebook friends for the repeat.

The collector in me will sure miss this place.

Yeah, they have seasonal postcards shaped like the old post boxes as well.

1 comment:

  1. Wow, the postcard industry is alive and well and living in Japan :) I would love to hear about the bingata textile dyeing, anything to do with fibre is fascinating to me, Ginger :)

    You are leaving for another posting this summer? Hope it will be closer to family!


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