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Autumn Sky Tree

5 Nov

Last weekend we went to the Tokyo Sky Tree.

(We didn’t go inside the tower. I have done that before).

The Sky Tree is illuminated at night in various colors every evening.
When we went it was lit up orange for the start of autumn.

We did go in the adjacent 「空町」 (“Sola-machi“) (lit. “Sky City“) shopping center.

Drinks in a traditional Japanese candy store.

Retro Japanese toys.

Japan’s “Hello Kitty” meets American rock band “KISS”.

From there, we walked to the nearby neighborhood of Asakusa.

「みくじ 百円」 (“Fortunes, ¥100”)

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“Water Throwing Festival” 2014

18 Aug

Yesterday was one of Tokyo’s biggest festivals. The 深川八幡祭り (Fukagawa-Hachiman Festival).

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Were you there? I was there, but not as a spectator. I have been a member of a group in this festival for nine years. I’m one of the people carrying a 神輿 (portable shrine) in this festival.

This festival isn’t held annually like most festivals. It’s held every three years. So the next time will be in August 2017.

It’s often called 「水かけ祭り」 ( the “Water-throwing Festival” ) because spectators throw buckets of water on the participants. And even the Tokyo Fire Department sprays us with firehoses!

I wrote a post the last few times I’ve participated in this festival. The last time, the Emperor and Empress of Japan attended the festival!
Click here to see that post with photos. It was a rare opportunity that we were able to see the royal couple so close!

Here are a few of the excellent photos that my wife took.

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Japan in January

1 Mar

Japan is beautiful in January … and every other month!

Wisteria Festival

2 May

Last weekend, we went to a 藤祭り (Wisteria Festival) in Tokyo.
藤 (Wisteria) is a type of flower that is purple and blooms around this time of year.

Here are some photos that I took:

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We also saw the new Tokyo Sky Duck bus.
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The Tokyo Sky Duck is a new bus service that just started in Tokyo last March.
It gives passengers a tour of Tokyo both by street…and then by river cruise because it’s both a bus and a boat!

Here is a video of the Tokyo Sky Duck bus getting into the river:

Setsubun

3 Feb

Today is February 3rd … in Japan, it’s a holiday called 節分 (Setsubun).

On this day, fathers wear a demon mask and the children throw beans at him and shout 「鬼は外!福は内!」 (“Demon (bad luck) go out! Good fortune come in!”) until he runs away.

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Then everyone eats the number of beans corresponding to their age (one bean for each year of their age).

Also, there is a special sushi people eat on this day.

And, at major temples in Japan, there is a ceremony in which celebrities who were born in the current Chinese zodiac year throw beans at the crowd.

We went to the famous 浅草寺 (Sensouji Temple) in 浅草 (Asakusa, Tokyo) and caught some beans that were thrown by famous people there.  The celebrity that I was most looking forward to seeing was 「アニマル浜口)」 (“Animal” Hamaguchi)!

Animal Hamaguchi was a professional wrestler in Japan and then he became the trainer / coach of his daughter, Kyoko, who was a female wrestler that represented Japan at the Olympics and other games.

Animal Hamaguchi is well-known for his loud, animated and humorous support and cheering of his daughter!
I like him!

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The charismatic “Animal” Hamaguchi throwing beans at the crowd.

Year of the Snake

1 Jan

It’s now 2013 January 1st in Japan.

明けましておめでとう!(Happy New Year!)  ♪

On the Japanese calender, 2013 is 平和25年 (Heisei 25) … the “Year of the Snake” (巳年).

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New Years is the biggest holiday in Japan.
It would take a lot to explain Japanese New Year in detail … New Years postcards, TV specials, relatives coming together for a special meal, temple visits, lucky charms and New Years decorations, and many other things.

I’ll just briefly introduce you to Daruma.

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Daruma is a round doll that people buy at New Years in Japan.

He has a funny face … and no eyes!

If you get a Daruma, you’re supposed to make a wish for the new year and paint one of his eyes in.
If the wish comes true, you paint in the other eye.

Regardless of whether the wish comes true or not, at the end of the year, you’re supposed to bring the Daruma (and any other New Years decorations you have) to a temple to be burned … and then get a new one for the next year.

It’s bad luck to keep a Daruma for over one year.

Water-throwing Festival

20 Aug

I am a member of group that carries a two-ton 神輿 (portable shrine) every three years in the 深川八幡祭り (Fukagawa-Hachiman Festival).

This festival occurs in Tokyo on the third weekend of August. The festival is held every year…but the big, main festival is only every three years.

It was last held in August 2008 and was due again in August 2011 (last year)…but after the 2011 March 11th earthquake in the Tohoku area of Japan, the 2011 festival was postponed a year.

So, it was held eight days ago (on 2012 August 12th) and will be next held in 2015.

In 2008, I wrote a post about the festival with many photos and videos that my wife took. (Click here to read it.)

Anyways, this festival is nicknamed the 「水掛け祭り」 (“Water-tossing Festival”) because all along the 6km (3.8 mile) course, people vigorously throw water on the people carrying the portable shrines.


Also, the Tokyo Volunteer Fire Department sprayed us with fire hoses!

When we “carry” the 神輿(portable shrines), we don’t simply “carry” them…the teams often turns them around and around…and also toss them up and catch them!

From start to finish, it’s a ten-hour day! I was very sore and tired the next day…but it was fun.

One big thing that made this year’s different from previous years was that a team from the earthquake-stricken area of Tohoku joined the festival…and the Emperor and Empress of Japan came to watch!

The 神輿 (portable shrine) from the earthquake stricken area of Tohoku, Japan.

The Emperor and Empress of Japan (天皇皇后両陛下) at the festival! 

The Emperor and Empress of Japan (天皇皇后両陛下).

Were you one of the estimated 50,000 spectators at this festival? Were you, like me, one of the 3,000 participants?


Does your country have a festival anything like this?