Saturday, October 17, 2009

My 2 lovely covers from Japan!

Japanese stamps are well known for their exquisite designs and highly artistic subjects. Good examples are these 6 stamps franked on the 2 covers which I received from an eBayer recently.

The lovely stamp franked on the top of this first cover was issued in 2002 to commemorate the 54th International Whaling Commission. IWC is an international body set up by the terms of the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling, which was signed in Washington, D.C. on 2 December 1946 to "provide for the proper conservation of whale stocks and thus make possible the orderly development of the whaling industry". The stamp in the middle belongs to the Ashizuri Quasi National Park series. It was issued in 1960.
The third stamp depicts the legend of Urashima Tarō (浦島太郎) and is one of three stamps from the Fairy tales series, issued in 1975.
The story goes... a young fisherman named Urashima Tarō was fishing when he noticed a small turtle being tormented by some children. Tarō rescued the turtle and released it back to the sea. The next day, a huge turtle approached him and told him that the small turtle he had saved was the daughter of the Emperor of the Sea, who wanted to thank Tarō personally. The turtle magically gave Tarō gills and brought him to the bottom of the sea, to the Palace of the Dragon God (Ryūgū-jō). There he met the Emperor and the small turtle, who was now a lovely princess, Otohime. Tarō stayed there with her for a few days, then he was caught by the desire to go back to his village and see his aging mother, so he asked her permission to leave. The princess said she was sorry to see him go, but wished him well and gave him a mysterious box which she told him never to open, for whatever reason. Tarō grabbed the box, jumped on the back of the same turtle that had brought him to the Palace, and soon was home.

Statue of Urashima Tarō in Mitoyo, Kagawa

But everything had changed. His home was gone, his mother had vanished, the people he knew were nowhere to be seen. He asked if anybody knew a man called Urashima Tarō. They answered that they had heard someone of that name had vanished at sea long ago. He discovered that 300 years had passed since the day he had left for the bottom of the sea. Struck by grief, he absent-mindedly opened the box the princess had given him. Out of it came a cloud of white smoke. He suddenly aged, his beard grew long and white, and his back bent. He was now a very old man. And from the sea came the sad, sweet voice of the princess: "I told you not to open that box. In it was your old age ..."

Next, franked on the left of the second cover belongs to the "My Favourite Song" Series I, issued in 1979. It is one of many "My Favourite Songs" series issued by Japan Post over the years.
Last but not least, we have a pair of beautiful stamps from the Golden wedding series, issued in 1974.

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