Tag Archive for cultural event

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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3 March Girls Day (Hina Matsuri)

Each year on the 3rd March is Girls Day in Japan. In Japanese it’s called Hina Matsuri, which means Dolls Festival. Usually, families set up a large display in late February, like the one below, and have their daughters pose next to it for photos. The dolls are based on the Heian court, and are arranged in descending order of rank across either a five or seven tiers. Each tier and doll has a specific meaning, but generally it was or is believed that the dolls take away evil spirits. The display is usually set up in the tatami room or guest room of the house. There are special foods and drinks that girls have on the day. Some communities might host some events just for girls, but other than that, not much else happens, however, the Nagoya Womens’ Marathon is next weekend. Also see the Japan Today Girls Day story, and Wikipedia/hinamatsuri.

For this photo, and others like it, see the Girls Day gallery.

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POTW: 14th Jan 2013

About POTWs in 2013

I think this is the first post of 2013. As you know, Photo of the Week (POTW) blog posts aren’t exactly weekly, as I am a busy person. I do apologise for not being able to be so frequent, but blogging is just the fun side of what I do, and it takes time to think of something worthwhile to say, and ensuring it is worth your time to read. POTWs are usually published each Monday at about 6pm (Tokyo time), though it may have to be adjusted later this year as my schedule may change. Please use the RSS button in your browser to obtain a list of updates, and bookmark this site in your browser, too.

Other Website news

You may have noticed the new version of the JapanesePhotos.Asia webpage looks a little different. The main two differences are the drop-down menu, and the multi-screen functionality. That means, the homepage should work well on smartphones, tablet computers, desktop computers (Mac, Windows, & Linux). However, there is unfortunately a caveat. The homepage is designed for the most up-to-date web 2.0, HTML5 systems. Which means the Microsoft Internet Explorer (IE) browser (regardless of age) may have functionality problems. Many websites, companies, and web designers have been complaining for years about the out-of-datedness of IE, and very recently Google explicitly stated it cannot provide any more support for IE. However, I do maintain a simple text menu at the bottom of the page, above the footer for IE fans. On that point, currently, WordPress (the volunteer group that created and maintains this blogging software) still produces IE compatible software, though I don’t know how much longer their resolve will last.

POTW

This Photo of the Week (POTW) is for an upcoming annual event, the Naked Man Festival (Hadaka Matsuri). It is held in coldest, most miserable part of winter in Kounomiya, just outside of Nagoya, in central Japan. The next event will apparently be held on the 16th February 2013 (according to WhatonWhen.Com). Here is some info from my 2009 blog post:

It began over 1,200 years ago, in the year 767, when Nara was the capital of Japan. At that time, there were plagues affecting the Japanese people, so Emperor Shotoku ordered special prayers to be said nation wide. The governor of Owari Province (now Aichi Prefecture) asked the shrine at Kounomiya to do something about this, and to remove the bad luck. So, the Naked Man Festival, held in the coldest time in winter was formulated.

If you’re planning on being one of the 120,000 plus members of the crowd, I suggest that you prepare well. That meaning warm clothes and avoiding both dehydration & over-hydration. Because of the cold, possible snow and ice on the ground, you’ll need to wear two pairs of socks, thermal leggings, warm trousers, thermal shirts, warm shirt, jumper (sweater), warm jacket, gloves, and scarf. Drink plenty the day before, so your body is at peak hydration that morning. Take a good hydrating drink (eg: Pocari Sweat or Aquarius). Don’t drink too much in the morning. There are toilets there, though I don’t recall ever seeing them, and the toilets at the station will require a ticket for entry.

The event usually starts at about 1pm. Be there before 12pm to get to know the lie of the land, where everything is, have some snacks to warm you up and ensure you have enough energy to withstand the next few hours. Importantly, find a good standing spot, and try to make guesses as to what parts of the public access will be closed off from 1pm, and so you can get a good standing space. Usually, the inside of the temple area will be overcrowded, and you’ll need to sit on someone’s shoulders, and you may be told to get out of the way once the event begins. Don’t worry, as you can work out how to plan things better next year. Also, there’s plenty of space along the boulevard leading up to the temple (shown below), though crowded with the other 100,000 people. Welcome to ‘contemporary zen’ [/sarcasm].

It is a great cultural event, simply because it is such a rare kind of event for North Americans, Europeans, and other Western people. More photos like this POTW can be found on my agent’s website, Asia Photo Connection, by Henry Westheim, and my own portfolio on PhotoShelter.

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POTW 14th Nov 2011: Winter (again)

This Photo of the Week is especially for the editors who are preparing months in advance, I hope this one doesn’t come too late. This is the annual Naked Man Festival, which is held in the depth of winter, usually in early March. Yes, it can be snowing, raining, icy, you name it, and this event is still held. Here is an extract of some information I wrote earlier:

It began over 1,200 years ago, in the year 767, when Nara was the capital of Japan. At that time, there were plagues affecting the Japanese people, so Emperor Shotoku ordered special prayers to be said nation wide. The governor of Owari Province (now Aichi Prefecture) asked the shrine at Kounomiya to do something about this, and to remove the bad luck. So, the Naked Man Festival, held in the coldest time in winter

More photos of this event can be found at my agent’s, Henry Westheim, site Asian Photo Connection and at my PhotoShelter portfolio.

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photo of the week 19 Sept 2011

For a few weeks now I’ve been doing a “Photo of the week” on my Twitter feed. I’m choosing the nice photos of something relevant now or soon, or just personal favourites that need a gentle nudge into the spot light. However, I have got concerned that I might repeat a couple of photos accidentally, perhaps to the annoyance of followers who are eager to see what’s coming out of the land of the rising sun, so this begins my ad hoc cataloguing attempt. Seriously, there are people who do look forward to seeing what’s new from me. I’m not surprised, I do look forward to my daily Dilbert and Sinfest comics.

This Photo Of The Week (POTW) is being promoted now, six months in advance, so that editors can organise their material and choose my photo for it. As you can see, it’s a stunner. And as you can see, it’s a public event and children were there. Here is my blog entry about the Tagata Fertility Festival, held annually in March in Nagoya, Japan.

 

Here is a list of previous POTW.

Toyohashi Fire Festival: http://t.co/P0azYYA

Mt Fuji and Japan Airlines in the same photo: http://t.co/qsAF8Ye

Cute Cosplay girls: http://t.co/4vzhenF

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Tado Horse Festival

Another annual event was run today. Essentially, they run a drunken youth rider, on a drunken horse, up a drunken mountain (and over a mound). If the horse and rider make it over (preferably together), then that heralds a good rice harvest this season.

In previous years, animal rights groups and the Mie Prefecture Board of Education (concerning especially youth affairs) have complained about this event. Horses are forced to consume alcohol, and the youth who ride them are about 17 years of age, and are drunk themselves. Horses are forced to run over a mound at the top of a steep slope, and there is a risk the horses could get hurt. Often the horses are frightened by the 120,000 spectators cheering the horse and rider on. At the mound that rider’s team try to help or force the horse over by pushing and pulling on the horse. Whilst there is risk to the horse, there are perhaps more risk to the people who have been carried or rushed to hospital in previous years. Furthermore, the animal rights group (I haven’t been able to attain their exact name yet) and the Education Board seem not to be so concerned for long standing cultural rights and traditions.

In any case, it seemed that this year the horse was not frothing at the mouth from too much sake, and the riders didn’t seem drunk at all. The teams standing either side of the track didn’t seem very drunk either. It appears that the fizz had been drained this year; perhaps creating a threat to the sense of community surrounding this event? Time will tell.

News: This year the mound at the top of the slope didn’t appear to have been broken very well, and so it was, as one person put it: ‘ambitious’. On this first day, most horses failed, but only one horse made it over, so there should be a good harvest this year. The horse that made it over was called Ganbare Tohoku (roughly translated as ‘keep trying / keep striving Tohoku’, a reference and call of encouragement to the people of the earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear stricken region).

For photos taken in previous years, see my Asia Photo Connection and PhotoShelter portfolios. This year I used black and white film (as I’m getting tired of digital), so new photos will be added to this post and my portfolios later.


Tado Horse Festival – Images by Andrew Blyth

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Naked Man Festival

The Naked Man Festival (Hadaka Matsuri) is an annual even held at Kounomiya, just outside of Nagoya City in central Japan. It’s held in the depths of winter and is a weekend-long event. The part that the public sees (and is shown in my portfolios) is held in the afternoon. The event date varies from year to year, according to the Chinese lunar calendar, but is held during the lunar New Year.

It began over 1,200 years ago, in the year 767, when Nara was the capital of Japan. At that time, there were plagues affecting the Japanese people, so Emperor Shotoku ordered special prayers to be said nation wide. The governor of Owari Province (now Aichi Prefecture) asked the shrine at Kounomiya to do something about this, and to remove the bad luck. So, the Naked Man Festival, held in the coldest time in winter was formulated (first published by me at Winjeel.Com, Feb 2009).

See these portfolios:

PhotoShelter, Asian Photo Connection, and Gekko Images.


Naked Man Festival – Images by Andrew Blyth

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Homepage picture: Kuwana City Ishidori

The current homepage picture was taken in the Kuwana City Ishidori. “Ishidori” literally means ‘stone-bringing’ festival. It’s an all weekend Shinto religious festival held annually in Kuwana City in mid summer at night.A man marks his town's portable shrine cordon in a crowd of onlo

It’s history is a little uncertain, but probably dates back about two or three hundred years. Each town or ward in Kuwana City has a portable shrine. Each portable shrine has a large drum and Japanese style cymbals. They beat out a traditional rhythm non-stop, for the entire duration of the procession, lasting for about six hours on Saturday and Sunday evenings. They follow a set route around the town. This route can vary from year to year, as it is said that it is lucky for the businesses to have the festival pass by their shop fronts. So, in consideration of these businesses, the route is varied each year. Along the route there are intersections, where there can be four portable shrines that meet. In concert with each other they would play the traditional drum and cymbal rhythm with extra energy and zest. This can last for up to 10 minutes, before they quieten down slightly, and move on, allowing the next shrines behind to have their moot. The Kuwana City festival is said to be the loudest in Japan.

Eventually, at somepoint in the night, they portable shrines make their way to a local Shinto shrine and hand over a white stone. These stones were previously gathered from a nearby river perhaps some weeks before hand. It is uncertain as to why the Kuwana City festival is unique in that they bring white stones to the shrine, instead of rice-balls, which is the norm in other places in Japan. It is thought by a local high school teacher and Ishidori enthusiast, that at one time rice might have been quite scarce, and the local people might not have been able to bring their annual rice-ball offerings to the shrine. So, it is possible that white stones were accepted in place of rice-balls.

Once these portable shrines make their way to the front of the Shinto shrine, they perform the drum and cymbal rhythm in earnest for the Shinto priests. Once the priests are satisfied, they give their blessings to that town or ward which is represented by the portable shrine.

I have many photos of this event on both film and some in digital. It is a night festival, held in the humidity of summer. Consequently, the quality of some images is a little compromised. However, other images can be made available upon request under Rights Managed licensing.

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