China News Agency, Beijing, February 4th: How did Chinese lanterns become the landscape poetry of the Japanese Spring Festival?

  Author Liao Chiyang Professor of Musashino Art University, Japan

  "Moon night and spring are good, and the lanterns will never go out." On the Lantern Festival on the fifteenth day of the first lunar month, pictures of bright lights and brilliant daylight are unfolded in various places.

As the first full moon day of the lunar year, the Lantern Festival carries people's good expectations and becomes a continuation of overseas Chinese communities celebrating the new year and sticking to traditions.

  "Thirty fires, fifteen lights." The Lantern Festival is the most lit season of the year, and making lanterns is a traditional custom of the Lantern Festival.

According to legend, its rise is related to Buddhism.

Lighting is a symbol of wisdom, hope and beauty in Buddhism, which can break ignorance and drive away darkness.

  Lights become the protagonist of the Lantern Festival.

All kinds of lanterns are vivid and beautiful in the hands of craftsmen.

People go to the streets to admire the moon and lanterns, and children play in groups with lanterns. "Men and women playing", "touching nails" and "welcoming purple girls" have become the unique cultural landscape of Lantern Festival.

From the initial religious sacrificial activities, it has developed into a mass entertainment carnival. The Lantern Festival dilutes the identity boundaries such as class and gender and traditional etiquette, and the barriers disappear in the lively festival atmosphere.

Tens of thousands of Chinese lanterns are displayed at the Nagasaki Lantern Festival held in central Nagasaki, Japan.

Photo courtesy of Visual China

  The custom of making lanterns also accompanied the Chinese society, and gradually merged with the local customs of the country where they lived, and was inherited and developed.

In the East Asian cultural circle with a long history, traditional Chinese culture has been widely absorbed and accepted. Countries around the world have retained traditional festivals such as the Spring Festival, Lantern Festival, Mid-Autumn Festival, and Dragon Boat Festival. They share many similar concepts and customs, and cultural exchanges are very close.

Therefore, the Lantern Festival has acquired new cultural significance.

  Take Japan as an example. During the Edo period, Japan implemented a closed-door policy. Nagasaki was the only port in Japan open to the outside world. of construction.

In the 1730s, in order to strengthen foreign trade management, the Edo shogunate built the "Tang House", commonly known as the Tang Pavilion, as a concentrated residence of the Tang people. The celebrations of the Tang people were held in the Tang Pavilion. The music (Ming and Qing music), Traditional festivals such as dragon lantern dance and Mazu welcome and send-off have had an important impact on the local traditional culture of Nagasaki today.

"Lantern Festival" in Nagasaki, Japan.

Photo courtesy of Visual China

  After the reform and opening up, the new overseas Chinese who went to Japan brought Chinese festival customs to Japan.

The New Overseas Chinese Association held large-scale celebrations such as the Spring Festival Gala for overseas Chinese in Japan and the Spring Festival Gala for children, lit up the Chinese red at the Tokyo Tower, and held a Lantern Festival at the Huangboshan Wanfu Temple in Kyoto, founded by Zen Master Yinyuan.

  The three major Chinatowns in Japan (Kobe Nankingcho, Yokohama Chinatown, and Nagasaki Shinchi Chinatown) are the places with the largest scale and most visual impact of Chinese festivals.

In addition, the newly emerging Nagoya Spring Festival is also attracting more and more attention.

  In the 1980s, the three major China Streets began to be rebuilt. From the Chinese archway to the buildings, blocks and shops with Chinese characteristics, they gradually became a famous tourist brand in Japan.

The Nagasaki Chinatown Spring Festival has developed into one of the three major local festivals.

From the first day of the new year to the Lantern Festival, the whole of Nagasaki is decorated with lanterns into a dreamlike world, and various singing and dancing performances are staged one after another.

In addition to Chinatown, street communities, enterprises, schools and government departments in the whole city participated in the event. The event attracted a large number of tourists and brought huge economic benefits to Nagasaki.

"Lantern Festival" in Nagasaki, Japan.

Photo courtesy of Visual China

  Qinglong dance on the fifteenth Lantern Festival.

During the Lantern Festival, the Chinese hang lanterns in the belly of the dragon and dance around the Tang Pavilion.

The dragon dance originated from the Tangguan later became the finale of the Nagasaki Double Ninth Festival. It has been passed down in schools and communities in Nagasaki to this day, and has become an important cultural heritage that the local area strives to preserve and promote.

  The Spring Festival festivals in Kobe and Yokohama are mainly decorated with lanterns, integrating singing and dancing, dining, sightseeing and shopping.

Although Nagasaki and other places emphasize that they are the most authentic Chinese festivals, judging from the content of the Spring Festival festival, it is obvious that it incorporates a strong local color.

In fact, all major Spring Festival festivals are based on Chinese elements, combined with the history, culture, natural and social resources of various places, and are recreated as a new tradition. It is a transnational creation created under the goal of local leadership and community building Economic, trade and cultural network.

China Street is not only a landmark for overseas Chinese to pass on Chinese festival culture, but also a space for the combination of Japanese regional culture and overseas Chinese culture.

Dragon-shaped lanterns at Chinatown in Yokohama, Japan, as part of the celebration of Chinese New Year.

Photo courtesy of Visual China

  Since the Meiji era, Japan has retained many traditional festivals in the East Asian cultural circle, but they have all been changed to the Western calendar. The first month in Japan is the New Year in the Western calendar.

Therefore, the Spring Festival Festival is not only a foreign culture, but also an expression of the uniqueness and diversity of local culture. It has become a localized-terracultural phenomenon produced by the interaction between Chinese cultural elements and local culture.

If these activities want to continue to expand, there are two conditions, one is to be able to unite people's hearts through traditional cultural values, and the other is to be able to generate sufficient economic benefits.

  Inheritance, fault and innovation are the different presentations of Chinese culture by overseas Chinese, and their forms are constantly evolving with the development of the times.

These customs are not limited to the Chinese community, but also have rich and varied manifestations in East and Southeast Asia.

  Japan calls the Lantern Festival a small first month, and they drink red bean porridge and pray for a good harvest of silkworms and farming; Korean people drink "clear wine" during the Lantern Festival; in Malaysia and Singapore, in addition to dragon and lion dances, "throwing" The custom of "taking oranges and bananas" is also unique.

Chinese young men and women write their names and contact information on bananas or oranges, and throw them into the water, praying for a good marriage and a good story.

  The number of overseas Chinese in Japan has exceeded 1 million, and their holiday memories are unforgettable.

From the cultural point of view of the "five karma" (kinship, geography, god, business, and material) culture, festivals are a unique way for them to maintain relationships and connect with their hometowns.

Overseas Chinese in Japan organize activities such as the Spring Festival Gala to strengthen exchanges and enhance friendship, and also use festivals and customs to provide programs and courses for the next generation to learn traditional Chinese culture.


About the Author:

  Liao Chiyang is a professor at Musashino Art University in Japan and a doctor of literature at the University of Tokyo. He mainly studies the history of overseas Chinese, the history of overseas students, and the dissemination and exchange of traditional culture in East Asia.

He once served as a representative of the Chinese Professors Association in Japan and the vice president of the All-Japan Overseas Chinese Federation (All-China Federation).

His main works on Chinese history include: "Nagasaki Chinese Entrepreneurs and the Formation of East Asian Trading Network" [Japan], "Intricate Between Market, Society, and Country" (Editor-in-Chief), "Rising Tide: Reform and Opening Up and Studying in Japan" ( Editor-in-Chief), "Crossing Borders: Overseas Students and New Overseas Chinese", etc.