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Tokyo-jidai Matsuri

6 Nov

Last Sunday (November 3rd) was the Japanese holiday 「文化の日」 (Culture Day).

On this day, the Emperor of Japan presents awards to people who have contributed to Japanese culture.  And there are also many “culture related” festivals on this day, such as 「流鏑馬」 (Horseback Archery) shows and 「時代祭り」 (Era Festivals).

The 「東京時代祭り」 (Tokyo-era Festival) is in 浅草 (Asakusa, Tokyo) every year on November 3rd from about 1:00-4:00PM.

「東京時代祭り」 (Tokyo-era Festival)

We didn’t go to a festival on Culture Day this year because we’ve gone to them a few times before.

Click here to read my post that I wrote after I went to this festival five years ago. It has photos and videos.

You should visit Asakusa

18 Mar

浅草 (Asakusa) is one of the many parts of Tokyo that I like alot.

It’s a 下町 (traditional downtown area). Famous for the 雷門 (Lightning Gate), 浅草寺 (Sensouji Temple), and the numerous excellent (festivals) that are held there.

(Click here to read a post I wrote about 浅草 (Asakusa)).

Starting today, for the next few weeks, there will alot going on in 浅草 (Asakusa).

  • Today (March 18): 金竜の舞い (Golden Dragon Festival).
    This is held every year on March 18. I have been to this festival a few times when the date fell on a weekend. I have to work today, so I can’t go this year…but, if you can make it—I recommend it.
    Click here to read about it on my Festivals In Tokyo page.
  • Sunday, March 22, 2009: Tokyo Marathon.
    An annual international marathon with runners from all over the world racing through the streets of Tokyo.
    The course brings them past the 雷門 (Lightning Gate) in 浅草 (Asakusa).

marathon

  • Late March – Early April: 花見 (Cherry Blossom Viewing).
    This traditional event is done all over Japan. One popular location is near the 隅田川 (Sumida River) in 浅草 (Asakusa).
    (Last year, I wrote a few posts about 花見 (Cherry Blossom Viewing). Click here to read one.)
  • Sunday, April 12, 2009: 白鷺の舞い (White Heron Dance).
    A famous 浅草 (Asakusa) festival.

    「白鷺の舞い」 (White Heron Dance)

    「白鷺の舞い」 (White Heron Dance)

  • Saturday, April 18, 2009: 流鏑馬 (Horseback Archery).
    An exciting ancient Japanese archery display that involves the archers shooting arrows at targets while riding a galloping horse.
    (I have seen 流鏑馬 (Horseback Archery) a number of times. Last year, I wrote a post about the 流鏑馬 (Horseback Archery) at 浅草 (Asakusa). Click here to read it.)

There are plenty of other great festivals in 浅草 (Asakusa) throughout the year. But these are the ones that are coming up.

Have you ever been to any of these festivals in 浅草 (Asakusa) before? Will you attend this year? Did you already know about these events?

Cell-phone Camera

25 Oct

I was looking at the pictures on my 携帯電話 (Cell-phone) camera.
I have over 600 photos on the phone’s memory disc that I’ve taken at various places (the disc still has alot of memory space left, too!)

So I made a slideshow of some of the photos:

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草鹿式

14 Oct

As I mentioned in an earlier post (here), we just finished a three-day weekend because yesterday was a holiday. (It was 体育の日 (Sports Day)…(see my short FAQ about it here)).

We went to two festivals. One was on Sunday (at this post) and the other one was yesterday.

The event that we went to yesterday wasn’t really a festival but more of a ceremony.
It was the 草鹿式 (Archery Ceremony) at 靖国神社 (Yasukuni Shrine).

The literal translation of 草鹿式 would be “Grass deer ceremony“. This is because the archers, wearing traditional outfits and speaking in traditional 日本語 (Japanese), shoot arrows at a stuffed deer. Not a real deer…a fake one.
The arrows don’t have arrowheads so that they can use the target deer every year.

Like 相撲 (Sumo), this event has alot of ritual and tradition that is done before each shooting.

It was fun to watch…not as exciting as 流鏑馬 (Horseback Archery), but still fun. (Click here and here to read my posts about 流鏑馬 (Horseback Archery)).

Here are a few photos I took:

Here are some videos:

Because 靖国神社 (Yasukuni Shrine) is where all who have died fighting for Japan are enshrined, it attracts Japan’s right-wing extremists.

But they are a minority. Most visitors to 靖国神社 (Yasukuni Shrine) are just like visitors to war memorials in other countries…only there to honor the sacrifice and the memories of soldiers who died in battle. (See an earlier post I wrote about 靖国神社 (Yasukuni Shrine) here).

After we left there, we went to the nearby 昭和館 (Showa-kan).

The 昭和時代 (Showa Period) in Japan was when the current Emperor’s father was alive and was Emperor. The 昭和館 (Showa-kan) is a museum that focuses on how life in Japan was during and just after World War 2.

I couldn’t take any pictures inside but it was very interesting. Japan has changed alot since then and there were many hardships back then. But some things, like the food that Japanese people eat, is still quite the same.

The museum’s website is here (日本語 (Japanese) only).

Over the years I have seen many American celebrites do television commercials in Japan. (Kinda like in that overrated movie “Lost In Translation“. (I thought that was a painfully boring movie…but some people, it seems, liked it alot. C’est La Vie. Did you like it?)).

Tommy Lee Jones has been making humorous commercials for Boss Coffee for awhile now.

Most of the American celebrities just say a few lines in English or they may say a couple words of Japanese…but they usually slaughter the language if they do. Tommy Lee Jones speaks Japanese pretty good in his commercials though.

From there, we walked past the 日本武道館 (Nippon Budokan Arena). Along the walk, I took these pictures:

On the way home, we stopped for a break at the Lotteria Fast Food Restaurant. We ate dinner at home, but just took a “coffee break”. They sell Japanese style snacks…Green Tea Shake, and An-bean and mochi pastries. So we had one each.

Photos

28 Aug

I went thru some of my photos and decided to post a bunch of them on my blog. Mostly as Slideshows.

For convenience, here’s a menu of the pictures, slideshows, and video on this post:

Turtle Butterfly Beetle
Cicada Kawasaki Halloween Kamakura Horseback Archery
Asakusa Horseback Archery Asakusa New Years Tokyo Disneyland
Park Cherry Blossom Viewing Ibaraki
Yokohama Kameido-Tenjin Harajuku / Shibuya
Ueno Tokyo Tower Tokyo Dome area
Tokyo Stn / Imperial Palace University of Tokyo Tobu Zoo
Ryogoku Bottom of this post

First are some of the small animals that have been living in our house recently.

Our ミドリ亀 (Red-eared slider turtle):

My YouTube video of our ミドリ亀 (Red-eared slider turtle):

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The アゲハ蝶 (Swallowtail Butterfly) (and his (cocoon)).

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Here’s a slideshow of our カブト虫 (Rhino beetle) eating gelatin.

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A slideshow of our (Cicada) emerging from it’s moult (outer shell).

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Here’s ハロウィーン (Halloween) at 川崎 (Kawasaki):

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And here’s a slideshow of the 流鏑馬 (Horseback Archery) at 鎌倉 (Kamakura):

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And the 流鏑馬 (Horseback Archery) at 浅草 (Asakusa):

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And here’s a slideshow of New Years at 浅草 (Asakusa):

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東京ディズニーランド (Tokyo Disneyland):

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A park near our house:

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花見 (Cherry Blossom Viewing):

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茨城県 (Ibaraki) is a countryside prefecture to the north of 東京都 (Tokyo):

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横浜 (Yokohama):

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亀戸天神 (Kameido-Tenjin Shrine):

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原宿 (Harajuku) and 渋谷 (Shibuya):

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These photos are from 上野 (Ueno):

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東京タワー (Tokyo Tower):

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The 東京ドーム (Tokyo Dome) area (including the amusement park and 小石川後楽園 (Koishikawa-kourakuen Japanese Gardens)). There happened to be a cosplay event on the day I took these photos:

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東京駅 (Tokyo Train Station) and the 皇居 (Imperial Palace):

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東京大学 (The University of Tokyo):

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東武動物公園 (Tobu-Doubutsukouen Zoo):

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両国 (Ryougoku), the area of Tokyo with the 国技館 (Sumo Arena):

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Please leave a comment of what you think of these photos!

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鎌倉

21 Apr

Today we went to 鎌倉 (Kamakura).

Kamakura was once, long ago, the capital of Japan. It’s not too far south of Tokyo in 神奈川県 (Kanagawa Prefecture).

Kamakura is my favorite part of Kanagawa Prefecture.

It’s still very “traditional” Japan. There’s a nice beach, 大仏 (Great Buddah), many shrines and temples, lots of great souvenirs and food to buy, and 江ノ島 (Enoshima) and 横浜 (Yokohama) aren’t far.

One reason we decided to go to Kamakura today was because they were having a 流鏑馬 (Horseback Archery) show (like the one I watched in Tokyo yesterday) today.

My wife’s aunt wanted to join us today. So we woke up early and met her at the train station at 7:30AM and the six of us (my wife and I, our three kids, and my wife’s aunt) got to Kita-Kamakura Station at 8:45AM.

From there, we walked to 浄智寺 (Jyouchiji Temple).

Then we walked to 源氏山 (Genji-yama Mountain) and followed the hiking course.

And we walked to the 高徳院 (Koutokuin Temple) with the 大仏 (Great Buddah).

At the 高徳院 (Koutokuin Temple), there were some children dressed in kimono who were learning 茶道 (Tea Ceremony) (In Japan, preparing and serving Green Tea properly involves an elaborate ceremony). The children and their 茶道 teachers were preparing and serving tea for free. So we decided to have some.

It was very good!

The tea ceremony teacher:

From there, we walked over to 長谷寺 (Hase-dera Temple), which is a beautiful temple with a beautiful garden and Koi (Carp) pond.

The temple is up on a mountain with a beautiful view of Tokyo Bay.

In addition to that view, on the way up to the temple we were able to see 富士山 (Mt. Fuji).

At Hase-dera Temple, we ate a picnic lunch.

After lunch we headed to the 長谷駅 (Hase Station) on the 江ノ電 (Enoden Train Line) and rode the train to 鎌倉駅 (Kamakura Station) and then we walked down the 小町通り (Komachi-doori) shopping street which is lined with many great traditional Japanese shops. We bought some freshly cooked おせんべ (Rice crackers) at a shop here.

We went to the 鶴岡八幡宮 (Tsurugaoka-hachimanguu Shrine) which is where the 流鏑馬 (Horseback Archery) show was. Since it was extremely crowded and I watched Horseback Archery yesterday, we didn’t stay for the entire show.

After that, we went back to the shops and got a few bottles of “Kamakura Beer” and some famous “Hato Sable” cookies from the 豊島屋 (Toshimaya) store for souvenirs.

Then we headed home. It was a fun day.

Yabusame

19 Apr

Today in 隅田公園 (Sumida-kouen) in Tokyo, there was a 流鏑馬 (Horseback Archery) show.

I have been to 流鏑馬 (Horseback Archery) shows a few times before, including the one at Sumida-kouen…but it’s not too far from our house. So I decided to go to today’s show too.

Asahi Beer bldg

In 流鏑馬 (Horseback Archery), the archers and the others who assist by setting up the targets, etc are dressed as Samurai because it was the Samurai who trained in horseback archery centuries ago.

After the archers parade past the audience, the targets are set up. There’s three posts spaced out along the horse running track and various targets are set up for the archers to try to hit with arrows while galloping down the the track on horseback at full speed.

The targets are usually pieces of plywood first, then plywood with packets of confetti inside (for visual effect when the target breaks), ceremic targets and various others.

It’s quite exciting!

Here are couple pictures I took of archers hitting the targets as they sped by:

I also took a short movie of an archer hitting a target. You can see the confetti fly when he breaks the target: