fireworks festivals(Japanese version only):

summer festivals: (Japanese version only)

Friday, December 14, 2012

SENDAI Pageant of Starlight 2012

SENDAI Pageant of Starlight(SENDAI光のページェント) is being held near Sendai Staion in Miyagi Prefecture from December 7nd to 31st. It's an annual illumination event that citizen volunteers started in 1986.

台光のページェント2 by nimame /flickr
SENDAI Pageant of Starlight in 2011

仙台光のページェント5 by nimame /flickr
SENDAI Pageant of Starlight in 2011

  Last year, all of 550,000 LED bulbs became unusable due to the tsunami, but the event was performed by the aid of the illumination events' organizations all over Japan. The event got new 600,000 LED bulbs this year.

During its lighting ceremony, a magnitude 7.3 earthquake occurred off the coast of Sanriku and tsunami warnings were issued for the coastal regions of the prefecture. However, the ceremony went on as planned.

Sendai Pageant of Starlight
Sendai Pageant of Starlight by yisris /flickr
SENDAI Pageant of Starlight in 2011

 This year's slogan is "Be smile!" The event attracted about 2.9 million tourists last year. Visitors can also enjoy watching the parade and skating at an outdoor skating rink.

Sendai Pageant of Starlight
Sendai Pageant of Starlight by yisris /flickr
SENDAI Pageant of Starlight in 2011

Christmas lights are shining bright.

Illumination spots in Japan: (Japanese version only)
photos of Christmas illumination:

Some families even decorate the outside of their homes with illuminations. A neighbour's house is adorned with Christmas lights until Christmas Eve( not Christmas day!)

 The Japanese Kanji Proficiency Society (財団法人日本漢字能力検定協会) announced the Kanji of the year (今年の漢字 Kotoshi no Kanji) representing a sign of the times on December 12th. "Kin or kane(金, gold or money)" received first-place votes in balloting. Many people selected this character because of annular eclipse, a transit of Venus, the London Olympics and so on. In Japanese, an "annular eclipse" is "kinkan-nissyoku(金環日食)" which literally means "gold ring solar eclipse."  "Venus" is "kinsei(金星)" which literally means "gold star."

Friday, December 7, 2012

The 18th Kobe Luminarie

I'm very sorry. I made a mistake with the dates of Kobe Luminarie.

The 18th Kobe Luminarie is a light festival which started in December 1995 to mourn for the victims of the Great Hanshin Earthquake. More than 3.4 million visitors enjoyed this festival as an annual illumination event last year.

The festival is being held at Old Foreign Settlement and Higashi-Yuenchi Park (Chuo Ward) in Kobe City from December 6th to the 17th. The theme of this year's Luminarie is "La Luce di KIZUNA, la solidarieta, la fratellanza e il legame (the light of KIZUNA, solidarity, brotherhood and the link)".
It is prohibited to duplicate, reuse, sell or make other secondary use of the Kobe Luminarie's photos now.
You can see the photos at the following sites: (Japanese version only)

information relative to Kichirei Kaomise Kogyo:

Nakamura Kanzaburo XVIII passed away at 2:33 a.m. on December 5th after developing ARDS as a result of pneumonia. He was 57 years old. In most of Japanese traditional performing arts, a performer matures in his 60s and 70s. His early death was a heavy blow to kabuki. May his soul rest in peace.

His sons, Nakamura Kankuro VI and Shichinosuke Ⅱ were present at their father's deathbed in a hospital in Tokyo. After that they left for Kyoto and performed kabuki plays at the theater. They will perform there until the closing day (the 26th.)

Only close members of the family will hold the wake on the 10th and attend his private funeral service on the 11th. Kanzaburo's formal funeral will be held on the 27th. The chief mourners at his funeral are Kankuro and Shichinosuke.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Kichirei Kaomise Kogyo 2012

Kichirei Kaomise Kogyo(吉例顔見世興行, December Kabuki Program) is being held from November 30th to December 26th at Kyoto Minamiza Theatre. It's an annual kabuki program with an all-star cast of east(Tokyo) and west(Osaka, Kyoto). Forty-eight actors including Sakata Tojuro IV(四代目 坂田藤十郎), Kataoka Gato V(五代目 片岡 我當), Ichikawa Danjuro XII(市川團十郎),Kataoka Nizaemon XV(十五代目 片岡仁左衛門), Nakamura Kanjaku V(五代目 中村翫雀) are performing this year.

まねき maneki
まねき maneki by 湖畔老 /flickr
Maneki were put up above the theatre's entrance on November 26.  Maneki are hinoki cypress signboards on which actors' names and their family crests are written in a Japanese lettering style, Kanteiryu(勘亭流). The style leaves less blank space in hopes of being filled to the rafters. Nakamura Kankuro VI and his brother Shichinosuke Ⅱ made the opening speech on this day. This program includes the performance announcing the succession of Nakamura Kankuro VI.
In this program, Kankuro made a statement of his succession to the name. His father Nakamura Kanzaburo XVIII had an operation for early esophageal cancer in July and is in the hospital with lung disease.

Maiko wear a different hair ornament(花簪,hanakanzashi) every month.

hanakanzashi for maiko: (Japanese version only)

made by MAYA
(Kanzashi are available on this site.)

In Kyoto, the preparations for New Year's festivities(正月事始め, Shogatsu Kotohajime) are started on December 13th when maiko in Kyoto receive a new fan for Japanese dance from her master. So hanakanzashi in December is decorated with maneki and good luck charms for New Year's festivities such as hagoita battledore, mochibana(branches with colored rice balls), manekineko(beckoning cat), dice, koban(oval gold coin), and so on.

Kagai Souken(花街総見) or Kaomise Souken(顔見世総見) is an anual event that all of maiko and geiko in the five entertainment areas in Kyoto go to see kabuki for improvement in the performing arts at the theatre in early December. Maiko and geiko of each area go there on a different day.
Each maiko gets the autograph of her favorite kabuki actor on their hair ornament's maneki in his dressing room. Male-role players write their autographs in black and female-role players do in red.

maiko wearing hanakanzashi in December:

Kichirei Kaomise Kogyo[December Kabuki Program]

Matinee (from 10:30 AM) includes the following performances.

1.Sasaki Takatsuna(佐々木高綱) performed by Gato and others.
2.Kajiwara Heizo Homare No Ishikiri (梶原平三誉石切, Stone-cutting Kajiwara) performed by Danjuro and others.
3.Kotobuki Soga No Taimen(寿曽我対面, The Encounter of the Soga Brothers and their Father's Killer) performed by Kankuro, Nizaemon and others.
4.Kuruwa Bunsho (廓文章, A Letter from the Pleasure Quarters) performed by Tojuro and others.

Evening Show (from 4:15 PM) includes the following performances.

1.Kanadehon Chushingura Act 5 and 6 (仮名手本忠臣蔵, The Treasury of Loyal Retainers) performed by Nizaemon and others.
2.Kojo (Stage Announcement) by Nakamura Kankuro VI and top actors.
3.Funa Benkei(船弁慶, Benkei in the Boat) performed by Kankuro, Danjuro, Tojuro and others.
4.Sekitori Senryo Nobori (関取千両幟, The Sumo Wrestler's Banner) performed by Kanjaku and others.

You can see more information about Kichirei Kaomise Kogyo on the "Kabuki Web" site from SHOCHIKU's web site.