Archive for August 31, 2010

Nagoya Dance Festival video

I needed to mind my daughter today, the first day of the Nagoya Dance festival, known in Japanese as ‘Domatsuri’. The Nagoya Domatsuri is becoming the premier event of this type in Japan, even though the event was inspired by the Hokkaido Dance Festival, and is only a little more than 10 years old.

Since I couldn’t do any shooting, I took my little Sony Bloggie (professional grade bloggers video camera [insert sarcastic facial expression]), and recorded some performances. With a three year old leaning on me, and crowds getting in the way, this is the best vid’. I hope you get an idea of the high energy that performers put in. Annually, more than 23,000 performers take part from 3 years of age up to perhaps 80 or so. There are local town teams, university teams, and corporate sponsored teams. TV audiences are almost 2 million. It’s a big event.

I’ll be properly photographing this tomorrow (Sunday) when I can bring in my gear.

Summer Coupon

It’s almost the end of summer, and it’s time get those end-of-summer images now! Get 20% off any of my images only at my PhotoShelter account, until 8th September 2010. Minimum purchase is USD$25, coupon code is: SUMMERSCRAMBLE2010.

What to get:

  • Japanese night festival (Ishidori)
  • Nagoya Dance Festival (Domatsuri)
  • Cosplay (World Cosplay Summit, 2010)
  • Sumo (the controversial Nagoya tournament)

Nagoya Domatsuri

Next weekend is the Nagoya Dance Festival, or ‘Domatsuri’. I’ll be attending. Usually it’s either extraodinarily hot and sunny, and terrible to photograph in; or wet, humid, hot and terrible to photograph in. Wish me luck this year. The Nagoya dance festival is not a traditional town festival, nor traditional dance event. It was modelled on the Hokkaido event that the Nagoya university students attended, and were impressed by. Consequently, because of the Hokkaido influence, there are Sino-Japanese style dances, rock/pop influences, as well as more traditional or jazzed-up styles as well. It’s dynamic, and a feast for the eye. I always love to see the Kyoto University teams, they have time and depth-of-knowledge to dedicate in their preparations for this event. This is a must see for all tourists visiting Nagoya at this time of year.

My blurb for PhotoShelter portfolio gallery (shown below)

The Nagoya Dance Festival competition, known locally as Domatsuri is an annual summer event held at the end of August. Domatsuri was first organised by university students in 1999, and later taken over by the city. It now attracts over 200 teams with over 20,000 participants, with an audience of nearly 2 million viewers.?

As you can see it’s a big event, and a very big deal.  More information can be found at the Domatsuri webpage (in English). Below is the gallery available on my PhotoShelter portfolio, but more is also available at Asia Photo Connection (13 images available, see pages 5-6).

Nagoya Domatsuri – Images by Andrew Blyth

Tomatoes in a jar

I don’t have much of a chance at the moment to play in the studio. So, when a neighbour gave me this jar of home made preserved tomatoes, I couldn’t resist. They looked and tasted fantastic. Sorry, this is the best I could do for sharing. I attempted something a little different with the lighting, trying to keep it a bit bright, but also not striking the jar directly.

Products – Images by Andrew Blyth

World Cosplay Summit 2010

Every year it’s been a tough one. Last year I wanted to go, but found that for one reason or another, I had something else to do (I don’t remember). The year before was my first time attending, and it wasn’t bad. I went on the Sunday, the day of the main events and got some great shots. It was a pretty nervous experience, trying to work out what’s cool and not cool to do. Working out how to photograph people in crowds and such, and also contending with crowds, too.

This year was different. I went on the opening day, the Osu Kanon parade in the Osu district of Nagoya city. There were more people there than organisers had expected, and jammed in a much smaller space, and it wasn’t elbow-room only, but squeezing-room only. It was perhaps the hottest day of the year so far, and with perhaps the highest humidity yet experienced this year. Needless to say, migrainers like myself didn’t have much fun.

As for the photography, some light cloud cover can be nice to even out the light, but thick clouds did not help, invoking noisy pictures. It was a tough day, and I fear the photos bear that result. These are available at a lowered price at my PhotoShelter account, no model releases due to the public nature of the event. However, as you see, the costumes were amazing, and as you can guess, so to the experience for the crowds and the young re-carpeted cosplayers.

World Cosplay Summit 2010 – Images by Andrew Blyth

Stone-bringing Festival

Each year in summer, at the most humid time of year, when it’s really, really, really hot. When people have been dying because of heatstroke and dehydration. The people of Kuwana City have their annual summer festival, known as the the “Stone-bringing Festival”, or “Ishidori” in Japanese.

I’ve asked around, but haven’t been able to get a clear and certain story of what it’s all about. The best guess an educated friend of mine could make is that usually these festivals are a time when the local people bring offerings of rice to their main local Shinto shrine. Though, one year, there must have been a problem, and so the people couldn’t bring rice; though, they still had to made a ceremonial offering. Instead, each town, with their portable shrines deliver a white stone, to represent the rice that they would have brought if they could spare it. For one reason or another, the idea must have stuck and is continued to be repeat to this day

Incidentally, in convenience stores like 7-11, cooked rice balls are available, and make a convenient small meal on the go; much like our sandwiches. I don’t know if they had rice-balls a couple of hundred years ago, but it’s possible, and may explain why a single white stone can so easily represent rice.

This is an annual event, with the main event held on the first Sunday of August. The festival begins on Friday/Saturday night at the stroke of midnight, when all the towns simultaneously strike their drums and cymbals, and the interesting part of the festival begins. They parade the town portable shrines around Kuwana city until about 10am, they get some rest, and resume in the late afternoon. The festival is considered the loudest in Japan. The best time to go is perhaps Saturday late afternoon / evening. You can be there for a very long time (until Sunday morning, after the last train had departed).

During the bombing of the area in World War two, many of the town shrines were destroyed. Each year, even recently, another portable shrine is added to the annual festival, as a replacement for the one they lost 60 years before. It is expected that there would be more portable shrines added in the coming years, at least until all the towns of Kuwana City have a portable shrine again, and perhaps some new comers, too.

All these images are available now at my portfolio.

Sumo & Festival videos

Some time back I invested in a cheap little Sony Bloggie. It’s an alright camera, as you will see. It is so light that it’s hard to hold steady, as you will see that, too. But that’s not the point. What I want to do is to give you a sample of what I see when I’m at an event, though I don’t see things with shakes and wobbles. Look in the tag cloud to the side for Sumo and matsuri (town festival) pictures

A rather noisy local town festival with portable shrines, drums and cymbals. The lanterns that you see atop of each portable shrine are arranged to be in the same shape as a rice ball (which is not in the shape of a ball, but a kind of Michelin-man triangle).

The second is a sumo bout. This footage was taken at the recent Nagoya Summer Grand Sumo Tournament. Watch out for the bitch-slap.