Many festivals and events have already been cancelled or postponed due to spread of coronavirus.

cancelled Miyako Odori(Cherry Dance), Minamiza Theatre, Kyoto

Maiko and geiko dance performances

Advance tickets are available from overseas at:

14 April-7 June KIMONO: Fashioning Identities

This exhibition shows kimono from the 13th century to today

Venue: Heiseikan, Tokyo National Museum (Ueno Park)

seasonal flowers:

cherry blossom forecasts for 2020 (Japanese version only):

Monday, September 24, 2012

Higan and spider lilies

Two periods of seven days including the spring or autumn equinox are called Higan(彼岸), which means "the other shore" or Buddhahood. Higan went from September 19th to 25th this autumn.

We visit our family graves to pray and make offerings of flowers and incense during Higan. I went to my family grave in a temple today. Although many flowers were placed on graves, there were few people because it's a weekday.

spider lily flowers in my family temple

The spider lily is called Higanbana(彼岸花) because its blooming season coincides with the Higan period in autumn. However, spider lilies are late in blooming in recent years. I only saw two spider lily flowers in my family temple today. We often see the lilies growing around rice paddies and cemeteries.

photo by 高画質壁紙写真集無料壁紙

Spider lilies in Kinchakuda(巾着田), Saitama Prefecture will be in full bloom from the end of this month to the beginning of October.

photo by 高画質壁紙写真集無料壁紙

Butsuryu-ji Temple(仏隆寺) in Uda, Nara Prefecture

photo by 高画質壁紙写真集無料壁紙

Butsuryu-ji Temple

photo by 高画質壁紙写真集無料壁紙

Taka-cho(多可町), Hyogo Prefecture

This year's newly harvested rice is coming to market.
The rice from Fukushima Prefecture is also going on the market. Every bag of newly harvested rice in Fukushima is tested for radiation. The rice from Fukushima is available at the rice shop in my neighborhood.

The emperor harvested rice for Niinamesai by his own hands in the paddies of the Imperial Palace on the 24th. It's an annual event.

terraced rice paddies and spider lilies in some areas

photo by 高画質壁紙写真集無料壁紙

Asuka Village(明日香村, Asuka-mura) in Takaichi District, Nara Prefecture

photo by 高画質壁紙写真集無料壁紙

Asuka Village

photo by 高画質壁紙写真集無料壁紙

Asuka Village

photo by 高画質壁紙写真集無料壁紙

Asuka Village

photo by 高画質壁紙写真集無料壁紙

Asuka Village

Photo by

Hoshino Village(星野村, Hoshino-mura) in Yame City, Fukuoka Prefecture

Photo by

Hoshino Village

Photo by

Kurogi Town(黒木町, Kurogi-cho) in Yame City, Fukuoka Prefecture  

Photo by

Kurogi Town

Photo by

Kurogi Town

Wednesday, September 19, 2012


Temperatures reached 37 degrees Celsius in Niigata and many areas were caught in a rainstorm due to Typhoon Sanba yesterday.

September 17th was Respect-for-Senior-Citizens Day. A recreational meeting for the aged was held at a nearby town meeting place. My neighborhood association gave my mother kouhaku manju(red and white buns filled with sweat bean paste).
Compared with last year, the average life expectancy for Japanese decreased. It is said that increased deaths due to last year's quake and tsunami was one of the causes for it.

The 59th Japan Traditional Art Crafts Exhibition(日本伝統工芸展) is being held at Mitsukoshi department store in Tokyo from September 19th to October 1st.
The exhibition's winning works are available in each venue, but their prices are not indicated. I'll tell you about the features of this year's exhibition later.

The Exhibition will travel through the following areas:

19 September to 1 October 2012
       Tokyo exhibition, Mitsukoshi Nihonbashi Main Store, Tokyo

3 to 8 October 2012
       Nagoya exhibition, Mitsukoshi Nagoya Sakae Store, Aichi Prefecture

10 to 15 October 2012
      Kyoto exhibition, Takashimaya Kyoto Store, Kyoto

17 to 22 October 2012
     Osaka exhibition, JR Osaka Mitsukoshi Isetan Store, Osaka

26 October to 4 November 2012
    Kanazawa exhibition, Ishikawa Prefectural Museum of Art, Ishikawa Prefecture

9 to 14 November 2012
      Sendai exhibition, Mitsukoshi Sendai Store (Japanese version only), Miyagi Prefecture

22 November to 9 December 2012
     Okayama exhibition, the Okayama Prefectural Museum of Art, Okayama Prefecture

12 to 25 December 2012
     Matsue exhibition, Shimane Art Museum, Shimane Prefecture

2 to 20 January 2013
     Takamatsu exhibition, the Kagawa Museum, Kagawa Prefecture

6 to 11 February 2013
     Fukuoka exhibition, Mitsukoshi Fukuoka Store, Fukuoka Prefecture

19 to 24 February 2013
     Matsuyama exhibition, Mitsukoshi Matsuyama Store (Japanese version only), Ehime Prefecture

27 February to 17 March 2013
      Hiroshima exhibition, Hiroshima Prefectural Art Museum, Hiroshima Prefecture

Monday, September 17, 2012


Typhoon No.16(Sanba) passed over Okinawa this morning. Electricity was cut off to over 74,500 houses. Although the typhoon didn't hit Kyushu, it continues to bring gusty winds and heavy rains to Kyushu, Shikoku and Kansai regions. Sanba is heading for South Korea. For people in the Korean Peninsula, please be careful about typhoon related information.

Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine in Kamakura, Kanagawa prefecture performs Yabusame(horseback archery) as part of the shrine's annual festival on September 16th and  as part of the Kamakura Festival in April. The annual festival is held from September 14th to 16th. An archer on a running horse shoots three arrows with a turnip-shaped head at three wooden targets. Yabusame was one of practices to hone warrior skills. Currently, Yabusame events are held as a Shinto ritual at shrines in various parts of Japan and attract many tourists.

I recently came across a sentence as an explanation for Yabusame like this:
  Mounted samurai shoot arrows at peasants. They use dummy targets these days though.
It's a lie. However, there are some records that some warriors shot arrows at peasants.
Dog-shooting called Inu oumono was also one of the practices. Although padded or blunted arrows were used as a way of preventing injury to the dogs, they must have had pain. Of course this practice is not done now.

It is said the shrine's annual festival were derived from Hojo-e(放生会) that MINAMOTO no Yoritomo(1147-1199) held on the 15th day of the 8th month(in the lunar calendar) in 1187. Yabusame was also performed at this event.Hojoe is a religious ritual in which captive animals are released into the wild to admonish against the taking of life. This ritual is also held on the 16th.

The Hirosaki Castle International Horseback Archery Competition was held as part of the Hirosaki swastika Festival in Hirosaki, Aomori Prefecture on September 16th. Archers from the United States, Germany, Australia, Malaysia, Iran, South Korea and Japan were going to participate in the competition. The archer from South Korea won the competition.

Horseback archery
Horseback archery by jeremydeades /flickr

in Kamakura, Kanagawa Prefecture
shooting date:2011-04-17

流鏑馬 / Yabusame
流鏑馬 / Yabusame by ys* /flickr

流鏑馬 / Yabusame
流鏑馬 / Yabusame by ys* /flickr

 in Kamakura, Kanagawa Prefecture
shooting date:2011-04-17

流鏑馬 / Yabusame
流鏑馬 / Yabusame by ys* /flickr

in Kamakura, Kanagawa Prefecture
shooting date:2011-04-17
Yabusame in Kamakura
Yabusame in Kamakura by chaojikazu /flickr

in Kamakura, Kanagawa Prefecture
shooting date:2011-04-17

in Kamakura, Kanagawa Prefecture
shooting date:2005-09-16

Yabusame in Kamakura
Yabusame in Kamakura by chaojikazu /flickr

archer in Kamakura, Kanagawa Prefecture
shooting date:2005-09-16

Yabusame in Kamakura
Yabusame in Kamakura by Steve Nagata /flickr

P1000749 by jeremydeades /flickr

in Kamakura, Kanagawa Prefecture
shooting date:2004-04-18  

in Kanagawa Prefecture
shooting date:2006-05-28

GOTCHA! by maggie loves hopey /flickr

Yabusame target successfully hit, Tokyo
shooting date:2006-04-15

Yabusame competitor
Yabusame competitor by maggie loves hopey /flickr

 archer and judges, Tokyo
shooting date:2006-04-15

Horihachiman-jinja Shrine(堀八幡神社) in Akiota-cho, Hiroshima Prefecture
shooting date:2007-10-07
Yabusame Panorama
Yabusame Panorama by nickyfern /flickr

Yabusame Riders
Yabusame Riders by nickyfern /flickr

 Archers at Horihachiman-jinja Shrine(堀八幡神社) in Akiota-cho, Hiroshima Prefecture
shooting date:2007-10-07


An archer shoots an arrow at a wooden target at  Horihachiman-jinja Shrine(堀八幡神社) in Akiota-cho, Hiroshima Prefecture. shooting date:2007-10-07

Yabusame Bullseye Blackeye
Yabusame Bullseye Blackeye by nickyfern /flickr

female archer
shooting date:2010-09-20

Yabusame Lady
Yabusame Lady by Glenn Waters ぐれんin Japan. /flickr

P1050390 by dacheket /flickr

female archer at Nakamura-hachimangu Shrine in Mohka City, Tochigi prefecture
shooting date: 2010-09-19

Yabusame judges
Yabusame judges by maggie loves hopey /flickr

 Yabusame judges, Tokyo
shooting date: 2006-04-15
Yabusame by malfet_ /flickr

 yabusame in Suizenji(水前寺),  Kumamoto Prefecture
 shooting date: 2010-11-06

Horseback archery in Dornogovi, Mongolia
DSCF1189 by [Satbir] /flickr

Friday, September 14, 2012

Kishiwada Danjiri Matsuri

The season's 16th typhoon(Sanba) is approaching Okinawa island. Super typhoon Sanba has a central atmospheric pressure of 900 hectopascals and wind gusts of up to 80 kilometers per hour.

The days are drawing in. A lot of insects are chirping in the field. However, we have had a long spell of hot weather. Temperatures have been around 33 degrees Celsius in Tokyo and have reached 35 degrees Celsius in several areas.

The Danjiri Matsuri (だんじり祭, float festival) will be held on September 15th and 16th, October 6th and 7th in Kishiwada, Osaka. Trial runs of Danjiri are held on September 2nd, 14th and 30th. Although there are various views on its origin, it started in the 18th century.
The festival is famous for speeding floats through the narrow streets with daiku-gata(the most visible member of the Danjiri team) standing on the roofs of the floats.
In contrast, at night, each float is decorated with around 200 lanterns.

Danjiri is a float to draw or to carry. The float appears at many festivals in western Japan. Danjiri in Kishiwada are made of zelkovawood and are adorned with exquisite sculpture. Some say that it is due to the influence of skillful artisans in an area next to Kishiwada who created sculptures in the Nikko Toshogu Shrine.

At most festivals of Shinto shrines, the divine spirits go outside on mikoshi(portable shrine). After the divine spirit moves from the shrine to mikoshi, shrine parishioners carry mikoshi on their shoulders from the shrine to Otabisho(a rest house for the god) through their towns. The spirits stay there for a couple of hours or days. Mikoshi are carried from the rest house to the shrine, and the divine spirit returns to the shrine.
At the Kishiwada Danjiri Matsuri, only danjiri floats go to worship at the shrine and parade through the city.Festive floats lead or accompany mikoshi and play a role in livening up the festival.
This year, Kishiwada became known for a TV drama named Carnation. It is based on the life of the fashion designer Ayako Koshino whose daughters are famous designers Hiroko Koshino, Junko Koshino, and Michiko Koshino.

Kishiwada natives return to their hometowns during this festival. The sisters also return to Kishiwada without fail. Many companies in Kishiwada are closed during this festival.
We associates this thrilling festival with Kishiwada. However, Kishiwada is a castle town having old streets and is also a fishing village. Now we can hold wedding ceremonies in Kishiwada Castle Donjon,

Participants of a town in Kishiwada say at the closing event of the festival, "Ossyan shan no shankorobe(おっしゃんしゃんの しゃんころべ.)" It is said that it means gratitude to a village headman who made a direct appeal to his lord going in a procession. At that time, a direct appeal was strictly forbidden. Petitioners were sentenced to death.
The headman petitioned for reduction of land taxes on behalf of the farmers upon whom heavy taxes had been imposed at prolonged poor harvest time. Although he was executed, dreduction of land taxes was approved in 108 villages.

Incidentally, crossing in front of the feudal lord's procession was considered rude in the Edo Period. So this act could result in the death penalty like the case in the Namamugi Incident in 1862, but there was an exception. People having some sort of job were allowed to do this act in some circumstances.
What kind of job did they do? The answer is midwives heading to assist childbirth.

Kishiwada Danjiri Matsuri
Danjiri by panna noriko /flickr

Men wearing the same happi coats pull danjiri.

Danjiri by panna noriko /flickr

daiku-gata standing on the roof of danjiri

Danjiri by Yakinik /flickr

danjiri decorated with lanterns

Danjiri,  Takarazuka City(宝塚市), Hyogo Prefecture

Danjiri (Parade Float)
Danjiri (Parade Float) by Hyougushi /flickr

Danjiri (Parade Float)
Danjiri (Parade Float) by Hyougushi /flickr

Danjiri (Parade Float)
Danjiri (Parade Float) by Hyougushi /flickr

Danjiri @ Takarazuka Station
Danjiri @ Takarazuka Station by Hyougushi /flickr


Saijo Matsuri  in Saijo City(西条市), Ehime Prefecture will be held on October 6th, 7th, from 14th to 17th.

Danjiri Lifting
Danjiri Lifting by Ozchin /flickr
Sakamoto yatai at Iwaoka Shrine Annual Festival
Saijo Matsuri is the festivals of the four shrines including the Isono Shrine, Kamo Shrine, Iwaoka Shrine, Iizumi Shrine. The festival of the Isono Shrine has a history of over 260 years. More than 150 danjiri and taikodai(the float with the drum) parade through the city. People carry danjiri on their shoulders.

Ueno Tenjin Matsuri(上野天神祭) in Iga City, Mie Prefecture will be  held on October 23th and 26th.

だんじり by eiko_eiko /flickr