Archive for Cultural Events

Naked Man Festival in video

I’ve covered the Kounomiya Naked Man Festival in the past; Kounomiya is the place and shrine near Nagoya, which is known in Japanese as Hadaka Matsuri, Hadaka means naked, and matsuri means festival. Below is the bigger spectacle in Okayama covered by the BBC just yesterday. Ceremonies for the Nagoya Kounomiya festival starts from this week, but the main event is on the 28th Feb 2018 (Kikuko Nagoya). If you want to participate in the this festival, you have less than 24 hours to can email Kikuko. Enjoy.

Correction: I just received an email alerting me to an error on a source website. The event is not 28th Feb 2017, but in 2018 (which is 13th January of the lunar year).

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Coming of Age Day in Japan


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Hong Kong model Sabrina visiting Meiji Shrine in Tokyo during the Coming of Age Day in Japan. The Coming of Age Day (成人の日 Seijin no Hi) is celebrated annually on the second Monday in January by only young adults who have recently turned twenty years of age. They return to their high school to attend ceremonies, and then go to shrines and temples to pray for their futures. Typically the guys wear a nice suit; the same one they would wear for job interviews, but the ladies dress up in kimonos.

Unfortunate for the young ladies who chose too come to Meiji Shrine, there were hordes of tourists, photographers, and Sabrina and I waiting to harangue them into photos and selfies. It was almost masochistic the attention these ladies received from almost everyone there. Anyway, with the ladies pictured above we were nice and respectful. In fact, they were happy to talk to a Hong Kong model, were pleased with the photos I took, and then asked me to take exactly the same ones with their own camera. Because they did us a favour, I was happy to oblige.

It was great working with Sabrina, I hope she had a great time in Tokyo. Update to the JapanesePhotos Instagram at: http://bit.ly/2kpZFbj. Also see other photos from this collection at the Sabrina gallery on my PhotoShelter portfolio.

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Tejikara Fire Festival

I only heard about the Tejikara Fire Festival just a few days before it was held. I couldn’t find much information on it, and didn’t really know what to expect. It seemed to be one of those small local festivals that get passed over by the big inner city events. The mystery and the festival had to be explored. In short, I had minimal directions, and minimal info, and a camera. Here is my experience.

Tejikara Festival, at Tejikara Shrine, Gifu Japan.

Tejikara Festival, at Tejikara Shrine, Gifu Japan.

When: Annually, on the second Saturday of April.

Time: Officially: 6.30pm to 9.10pm. Actually: Get there a lot earlier to enjoy the festival foods and atmosphere, and to find a good viewing point in the shrine. When I got there just after 6pm, things seemed to already be in full swing.

Where: Tejikara, Gifu. See Google Maps.

Transport: Take the Meitetsu train from Gifu (city) station bound for Inuyama, for about 8mins, ¥230 (Hypedia.com, 2016), then follow the crowd. Be sure to get two tickets, as there is only one ticket machine at Tejikara station, and the line up for it at 9pm will be crazy. Also, for your return be sure to get on the platform closest to the shrine for your return to Gifu city.

Links: Gifu CVB, Japan Travel, Japan Travel Advice, and more.

History: Apparently, it’s been a small local festival running for about 300 years, and seems to have a little or unknown origin.

Tejikara Festival, at Tejikara Shrine, Gifu Japan.

Tejikara Festival, at Tejikara Shrine, Gifu Japan.

What: I’m still unclear as to what goes on. There are lots of fire fighters, and some fire trucks around the shrine. There’s lots of guys dressed in regular shinto festival outfits, sometimes topless. There are small shrines carried on the shoulders of groups of men from particular districts around the shrine. Each portable shrine has a different display. They stop at certain intervals in their approach to the shrine and set off firecrackers. I know from my Taiwan experiences that firecrackers supposedly scare off ghosts, so this might be related. There are loud bells being struck with hammers making a racket. The portable shrines are taken into the shrine for some sort of event, that I couldn’t see. You really need to get there early and stake out a spot.

Then when it’s dark large overhead lanterns are lit with fireworks running up guide ropes. Some of these fail, and it seems to be a challenge that the crowd cheer and applaud for. There are firework canons lit to create a vertical cascade of sparks, and some sort of story or performance of a traditional nature performed at the Shrine. I really need to go back, meet a local there and learn more. Usually, I’m on top of this sort of event, but I could not find a local to ask because I wasn’t in a position to this time. I’ll probably go back next year.

Tejikara Festival, at Tejikara Shrine, Gifu Japan.

Tejikara Festival, at Tejikara Shrine, Gifu Japan.

Photos & licensing: These photos will be available at my agent Henry Westheim, and at my PhotoShelter portfolio.

Advice: Festival food is a little expensive, but the whole point is for it to be a social event, and have food that you normally can’t have. Take a fist full of change, and enjoy a range of snacks like curried french fries, fairy floss, toffee apples, deep fried chicken, mixed fruit drinks, and more.

A food stall at Tejikara Festival, at Tejikara Shrine, Gifu Japan.

A food stall at Tejikara Festival, at Tejikara Shrine, Gifu Japan.

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The World Cosplay Summit will be promoted on ANA


The Nagoya based World Cosplay Summit (WCS) will be promoted on All Nippon Airways (ANA) flights in February and March this year. It seems to be a part of the “Cool Japan” public relations the Japanese government has been promoting for a little over a decade now. The short video will have both English and Chinese subtitles. A preview can be seen here, https://www.ana-cooljapan.com/contents/cosplay/ Unfortunately, their campaign doesn’t seem well planned, especially with the title, “Is Japan Cool?”. I’ll let you answer that for yourself. The photo above is from the 2012 Taiwan contingent on the red carpet event in the hot August morning.

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Summer festivals

It’s that time of year when many towns are starting to have their festivals. It’s a time when the heat forces people to become nocturnal, don their light weight happi or yukata, and relax and enjoy life in their communities. See here for summer festival photos like this one below. Japanese festivals often involve a parade of portable shrines, food stalls, cold drinks, and hanging out with family, friends, and neighbours. Learn more about festivals like the Kuwana Ishidori, Nagoya Dance Festival, Nara Lantern festival, the Osaka Tenjin Festival.


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Moving season in Japan

It’s moving season in Japan. Especially for company employees and their families, and some university students, it’s that time of year when a portion of the nation packs up and relocates. Moving companies and furniture store companies are booked out from about mid March until mid to late May, and I guess car rental agencies get busy too. Moving companies are very organised. You don’t have to pack a thing. For a one-person studio apartment (aka “1DK apartment”) they can just turn up, pack things in specialist boxes, and have your place empty within a couple of hours. You jump on the train, and meet your stuff at your new apartment. See the video below for more on this.

Removalists working in front of a condominium in moving season in Japan.

Removalists working in front of a condominium in moving season in Japan.

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Japanese real estate agents have a code system for describing apartments and condominiums. The number means the places to sleep; D is Dining; K is kitchen; L is Living room. So you could get a 3LDK place, which is a large, three bedroom place with a living area, dining area, and kitchen. These are typically the open plan style. Most single people live in a 1 DK, which can be likened to a shoe box with a bathroom. These are kind of cheap, but ok.

There are typically condominiums and apartments. Condominiums are typically owned by the occupants, and apartments are typically rented. Condominiums have solid concrete walls, whilst apartments have less sound-proof walls.

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International Women’s Day

It’s International Women’s Day (Wikipedia). Japan isn’t exactly the symbol or beacon of gender equality, but there are some highlights. Over fifty years ago, women in Japanese universities were extremely rare or not even allowed in, however, they are now making up over 50% of university entrants. I have read somewhere that Japan probably has the world’s best educated housewives. Women are taking up an increasing number of office jobs, though some struggles remain. Sayaka Osakabe recently won an American award for promoting women’s rights in the workplace (on 7th March 2015, Japan Today). The number of women in Japan’s parliament has doubled in the last twenty years, and Japan has moved up 14 places in world rankings; albeit from 127th to 113th (6th March, 2015 Japan Times). There will surely be more achievements in the future, however, what is needed? What is the highest priority now?

JapanesePhotos.Asia wishes for a great day to all women everywhere, and a hope for fortune and happiness to all people.


An American and a Japanese women on the street in Osaka

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5 Things to do this Spring in Japan

Are you thinking of what to do in Japan these Spring holidays? Look no further. Of course I talk mainly of Nagoya in central Japan. In case you don’t know. Nagoya is the major city in between Tokyo and Osaka. It is the home of the Toyota Motor Corporation, and the famous blue Central JR bullet trains. Land prices here rival that of Tokyo and London, and it’s one of the richest cities in the world. It’s also a convenient base for travellers. So, if you’re going to be in Japan and looking for travel ideas, start with these. Oh, and here’s one little trivial point to mention. The Spring holidays start mid-Winter (end of January), and finish in early Spring (early April). Don’t ask me why, just go with it.

For each below, there are links that include How to Get There information.


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1. Plum blossoms

Plum flowers typically bloom in about the last week of February and last until about mid-March (depending on the species and the weather). These flowers have more petals than cherry blossoms, last longer, and have more vibrant colours. These flowers used to be the most revered until a Kyoto poet captured Japanese hearts for the cherry blossoms. Plum flowers can be enjoyed at many major parks, including private botanic gardens like Nabana no Sato, the Nagoya Agricultural Centre, and Higashiyama Park (at Higashiyama Koen Station, Higashiyama Line).

Plum flowers
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2. Osaka Sumo Tournament

The Osaka Sumo Tournament is a little unique. It’s the only sumo tournament where the wrestlers need to walk through the public areas between the fighting mound in the centre of the stadium, to the changing rooms out back. So you can get close enough to get clear photos of the wrestlers just before and after their bouts. The tournament runs from the second Sunday of March for fifteen days until the fourth Sunday. Tickets are available online and can be picked up at the venue from special machines; don’t forget your purchase code and info. Learn more about the sumo here at the Going to a Sumo Tournament post.

Osaka Sumo
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3. The Naked Man Festival

Don’t worry, they’re not all men; they’re not completely naked; and it’s not so much a festival that you have to take part in… unless you really want. It’s held annually on the 15th of January in the lunar calendar (usually between mid February to early March). In 2015 it was held on the 3rd March (Gregorian Calendar). The festival attracts about 13,000 participants (males from about 6 or 7yo, to those about 70 or 80. You’ll even see tattooed gangsters playing their part as members of the community, too. You’ll have to bump your way through a crowd of perhaps 150,000 to 200,000 spectators of mainly excited women and girls. The festival is also known as the Hadaka Matsuri (“hadaka” is ‘naked’, and “matsuri” is ‘festival’).


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4. The Fertility Festival

Like the Naked Man Festival, this festival traces it’s roots to ancient Japan and is held with strong religious connections. It basically is a large wooden phallus being joyously carried through the Tagata township. On the internet it’s also known as the penis festival. It’s held on the 15th March each year (Gregorian Calendar). See here for specific info on the Tagata Fertility Festival.


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5. Cherry blossoms / Sakura

Of course, no mention of Spring and Japan is complete without mentioning the delicate and fleeting petals of a tree that bears no fruit, yet covers almost every temple and shrine and park in the country for about one week. The image below was taken at Nagoya Castle. You can get there via the subway Meijo Line, at the Shyakusho-mae Station in downtown or central Nagoya. The castle is also a museum and has the Nagoya gymnasium which hosts the July summer sumo tournament. There are some specific things you can do in this fleeting time, typically one week, and it involves friends, alcohol, bad decisions, and can be day or night. Learn five things about hanami here (hanami literally means “flowers-see”).


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Bonus: Tado Horse Festival

The Tado Horse Festival is held in the Golden Week holidays, the end of April and early May. It’s held in Tado, a small township just outside of Kuwana city, which itself is outside of Nagoya. The festival typically attracts about 120,000 spectators. It’s major.


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