Saturday, June 26, 2010

Hamochi Festival

On a recent Japanese TV program detailing the 20 Most Famous Festivals in all of Japan, Hamochi Matsuri (festival) was the only one chosen from Niigata prefecture.
We're kind of a big deal! Here are some images from my first Hamochi Festival.
This is an Ojishi (lion). 8 or so guys climb under the cloth covering and one holds the huge, wooden lion head as they snake their way across town. I actually go to go inside it and participate for a bit. It was really fun and totally unexpected.
They barrel into the shops and homes in town and clap the mouth of the huge wooden lion head to scare away evil spirits.

This is tsuburosashi! It is a central feature of Hamochi Festival. It is a fertility dance (I bet you were wondering) that is famous even within Japan. Having just completed rice planting, it is very timely dance for a community that is constituted largely of farmers. Ok, not one joke about picture please!

The Sado Okesa is a traditional folk dance that is done ALL THE TIME on Sado. It is quite graceful and it looks very "Japanese". Even my youngest students can do this start to finish.

An Omikoshi (portable shrine) They lift this huge wooden shrine on long planks with their shoulders and carry it around town. And yes, that person is standing on top of it. I've done this once before in Tokyo, and I can tell you that it's really fun but not for anyone with stiff shoulders.

This is one of the actors in the Noh (pronounced 'No') that was performed the night of the festival. Noh is a masked stage performance that has a rich history on Sado.
This is the traditional Noh Stage.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Beauty in Sado

I liked how this picture looked flipped.

Ohnogame - A massive rock that looks kind of like a turtle (kame, changed to game here, means turtle)
From the side
Futatsugame (literally 2 turtles) - 2 Really big rocks that kind of look like turtles.
Looking down from Ohnogame onto the Kozan Festival

Monday, June 14, 2010

Just give me one more Tokyo

It’s never hard to get me to go to Tokyo. While anyone who has spent a great amount of time in the city can tell you that it can get a little ‘much’ after awhile, it is always nice to drop in for a few days and enjoy all that the city has to offer. Well, all that you can manage to get in a few days that is. Since most of my readers have read about Tokyo before, I’ll just stick to the basics. My dear friend Laura Page and her sister Olivia decided to come to Japan for a few weeks and seeing as how they were ‘in the neighborhood’, I decided to go visit them. Here are some pictures of our time together in Tokyo. (Above: Free Hugs? What a deal!)
Hanging out with Laura in a Cat Cafe in Shibuya

Some old Waseda friends of mine decided to join the fun

Laura and Olivia battling on some Super Tetris

People Viewing in Harajuku

Just amazing!

Tsukigi Fish Market

Could someone call Jessica Simpson and confirm the chicken or fish thing for me?