Tag Archives: Asakusa

灯篭流し

16 Aug

Yesterday (2015 August 15th) was 終戦記念日 (VJ day) and there were ceremonies for that around Japan.
It was also the day that 灯篭流し (“tourou-nagashi“) is done at the Sumida River in Tokyo.

Tokyo landmarks, Tokyo SkyTree and Asahi Beer HQ are near the Sumida River.

Tokyo landmarks, Tokyo SkyTree and Asahi Beer HQ are near the Sumida River.

灯篭流し (“tourou-nagashi“) is a ceremony that is usually held at the end of O-bon (“O-bon” is mid-August usually (some places have it in July) and is a ceremony tradition to honor relatives and ancestors who’ve passed away.)

灯篭流し (“tourou-nagashi“) means “floating lanterns“. On this ceremony, people can purchase a lantern and write a message to relative(s) who have passed away and then the lanterns are lit and set afloat on the river.

It wasn’t easy to take photos that do it justice, but it looks beautiful.

This is the boat that some of the lanterns were set afloat from

A huge crowd to watch and set lanterns into the river.

The first of lanterns in the river.

Many people wore ゆかた (traditional Japanese summer kimono), such as this girl standing near the river’s edge.

More lanterns passing near the Tokyo Sky Tree.

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Here’s the line of people waiting to set their lanterns into the river.

The first group set their lanterns afloat from the boat, but after that a ramp from the dock was used.

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”)

New Year Fire Drill

5 Jan

Every year on January 6th, the Tokyo Fire Department has 出初式 (New Year Fire Drill).

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Tomorrow is 2014 January 6th, so it will take place tomorrow.

It’s a great event! You should see it if you have a chance!

I have been to this event a couple of times … I wrote a post with photos and video four years ago:

Click here to see it.

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.

OzzFest!

3 Nov

First of all, today is November 3rd…the Japanese holiday 「文化の日」(“Culture Day”).
If you went to the 浅草 (Asakusa) area of Tokyo today, you would have seen the interesting 「東京時代祭り」(“Tokyo-Era Festival”).

I’ve been to that festival a couple of times before. Click here to see the photos and videos I took of it in 2008.

Anyways, I found out yesterday that the godfathers of heavy metal, Black Sabbath will come to Japan in May 2013!

Ozzy Osbourne will bring his metal festival “OzzFest” to Japan for the first time!

Click here to visit the official OzzFest Japan website.

On Saturday, May 11th 2013, Slipknot will headline.
On Sunday, May 12th 2013, Black Sabbath will headline.

The venue will be the Makuhari Messe not far from Tokyo.

江戸消防慰霊祭

26 May

Yesterday my wife and I went to a festival that I had been wanting to see for years but never got a chance until this year.

We were a bit early for the festival so, since the festival was in 浅草 (Asakusa, Tokyo), we decided to go by the Tokyo Sky Tree tower and walk to Asakusa from there.

Tokyo Sky Tree behind 押上駅 (Oshiage Stn)

The Tokyo Sky Tree, currently under construction, now stands at 389 meters (it will be 634 meters tall when completed).

The Asahi Beer HQ is in Asakusa

Cruise boat

The Sensoji Temple in Asakusa was covered while it's being renovated.

Once we got to 浅草 (Asakusa), we went to watch the 江戸消防慰霊祭 (Edo Firefighters Memorial Ceremony).
This is the festival that I wanted to see yesterday.
It’s a ceremony to honor fallen firefighters. The ceremony involves the firefighters dressed as firefighters in Japan did centuries ago and doing stunts on bamboo ladders.
In ancient Japan, firefighters had to balance on such ladders while fighting fires and they would practice such stunts on the ladders in order to improve their strength and balance.
Modern firefighters in Japan still practice these stunts…for tradition and to improve their strength and balance.

Actually, last January I went to the 「東京消防出初式」 (“Tokyo Fire Departments New Year Drill“). That ceremony had many exciting shows including a similar ladder show. But it was still fun to watch again yesterday.

They use these hooks to steady the ladders.

After the ceremony was over we stopped by a store and I saw these vending machines. One looks like Ultraman…it sells, among other things, 「ウルトラコーラ」 (“Ultra Cola“).

We saw this pretty cat.

We don't have a cat...but this is our pet turtle.

人力車

22 Mar

I was watching a TV program called 「きょうは何の日」 (lit. “What day is today?“).

This show tells something that happened in history on the same date in history. Something like “On this date in history…” might be a better translation of the show’s title.

It said that 140 years ago today, on 1870 March 22, the 「人力車」 (“rickshaw“) was invented in Japan.

(Click here to see a post I wrote about a trip we took to Yokohama about two years ago…and I took a photo of a 「人力車」 (“rickshaw“) near Yokohama Chinatown (there’s also photos of cool graffiti in that post)).

There seems to be a bit of controversy over who exactly invented the 「人力車」 (“rickshaw“).
Some say a Japanese businessman in Tokyo named Yosuke Izumi invented it, but others say it was invented by an American missionary in Yokohama named Jonathan Goble.

There seems to be evidence supporting both stories and neither can be proven conclusively.

Either way, the 「人力車」 (“rickshaw“) is 140 years old today and, although it was used as a major form of transportation in Japan back then, it is mainly only ridden by tourist (both Japanese and overseas visitors) in parts of Japan with a lot of traditional history…such as Asakusa, Kamakura, Yokohama, Kyoto, etc.
The 「人力車」 (“rickshaw“) pullers double as tour guides explaining the history of the sites to his customers.

Also, geisha can sometimes be seen riding in them as part of their image.

The 「人力車」 (“rickshaw“) was imported into other parts of Asia.
So the word “rickshaw” is famous around the world…but in Japanese, 「人力車」 is actually pronounced “jin-riki-sha“…literally “human-powered vehicle”.

Have you ever ridden in a 「人力車」 (“rickshaw“)?