Tag Archive for kuwana

Ishidori photos

The photos from this year’s Stone-bringing Festival (Ishidori) are available at Asia Photo Connection. The Stone-bringing Festival is an event that is probably over three hundred years old. I’ve written about this before (Tag: Ishidori), and there is also some good information about Ishidori on Wikipedia. I’m making this information available for free in the hope that you’d find it useful and would buy my photos. Which reminds me, buy my photos.

Clicking on the picture below will take you to a gallery of my Ishidori photos on Asia Photo Connection, and my Ishidori PhotoShelter gallery from previous years.

The lower portion of a portable-shrine and it's town-members at the annual Stone-bringing Festival.

The annual Stone-bringing Festival (Ishidori Matsuri) at Kuwana City is the loudest festival in Japan.

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 Practice

This morning I got to the training session of the Minezaki Stable, just one day before the controversial Summer Nagoya Grand Sumo Tournament is to begin. The same old faces were there, practising hard, but looking far more ready and experienced. However, there was one new addition, a young Caucasian who looked like he was just giving it a go, and today was perhaps his first day.

The sumo association has been rocked by a series of controversies, and the latest includes cavorting with the criminal underground. This has caused the association to be censured for the first time. The national broadcaster, NHK, will not air this tournament live on TV, but show pre-recorded highlights after 7pm (one hour after the last bout). A lot of community support had been withdrawn from the association and individual stables. Usually, there must be absolute silence from on-lookers (like me) during the practice sessions, and absolutely, now flash photography. So, it’s little wonder that the Minezaki Stable appeared to allow an outsider to tryout today, and a group of children to watch, and not be told off for the racket they were making.

I’ve photographed this stable before, mainly because I really like the location, accessibility, and that there is the potential that I might be photographing a future top wrestler already. You never know.

My practice session shots are already available at PhotoShelter, and will soon be at Asian Photo Connection, and Gekko Images.

Sumo wrestlers of the Minezaki Stable practicing ahead of the summer Nagoya Grand Sumo Tournament

Early morning practice session

Sumo wrestlers of the Minezaki Stable practicing ahead of the summer Nagoya Grand Sumo Tournament

Early morning training session

Sumo wrestlers of the Minezaki Stable practicing ahead of the summer Nagoya Grand Sumo Tournament

Early morning sumo practice

Tado Gagaku

A few weeks ago I saw a wonderful performance. Tado Gagaku is a traditional Shinto-related performance troupe. They have both actor-dancers and musicians. The Tado Gagaku performs two or three times a year. This time, they performed at Kuwana Mansion, known locally as Roka-En (Roka Park).The performances are done outdoors on a temporary stage. On this particular day, it was cold, rain threatened, miserable, and the lighting was less than par. But, the people were really nice. I was fortunate enough to get some model releases. A performer of Tado Gaku

There are several performances done in the course of two hours. Some are solo performances, some were group performances, in some the performers wore masks, but they all wore wonderful costumes. The musicians played all Japanese court instruments.

All images are available at Asia PhotoConnection / Henry Westheim.

A performer of Tado Gaku playing the sho (cheng)