Category Archives: Festivals & Events

It Can’t Be Halloween Yet, Can it?

It’s early September, and what do I see?  Halloween decorations.  Sounds like some businesses are very enthusiastic about Halloween to be decorating this early.  Not even out of summer yet.  Well, I made this video a couple days ago about how businesses in Japan tend to decorate for Halloween far earlier than they need to.  Keep in mind that the business I show is an opticians and they don’t have a special Halloween sale going on.

Now, this video isn’t just me talking about Halloween decorations.  You’ll want to watch to the end, because I had a rather creepy encounter.

I sure didn’t expect that.

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Filed under Asahi-ku, Festivals & Events, Fujisawa, Japan, Kanagawa, Yokohama

Isuzu Fujisawa Festival 2014

Two weeks ago, on August 1st, my family went to the 36th annual Isuzu Fujisawa Festival at the Isuzu truck factory in Fujisawa.  Since it was only 20 minutes away from us on foot, it was a pretty easy decision to go to it.

The festival featured a lot of food, taiko drums, singing, festival games, mikoshi (portable shrine), and fireworks.  As you’ll see later in the video below, we didn’t stay for the fireworks, but we did see some.  The video features mostly the taiko performance, which is nice to watch.  The girl dancing to the taiko music is my daughter.  It was her first time seeing anything like this, and she really loved it.

If you’ve watched the video already, you’ll notice that we had a thunderstorm.  It was actually quite intense with a lot of lightning.  But I love a good thunderstorm.

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Filed under Festivals & Events, Fujisawa, Japan, Kanagawa

Carp Flags at Shirahata Shrine

Yesterday was Kodomo no Hi (子供の日) or Children’s Day in Japan.  It’s a holiday that celebrates children and their happiness.  During this holiday, people string up carp flags/streamers, or koi nobori.  Basically, they’re a kind of wind sock.  I visited Shirahata Shrine (白幡神社) in Fujisawa, near Fujisawa-honmachi Station, and was treated to a large number of very big koi nobori.  Have a look.

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The shrine gate.

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Those are some big streamers.

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Caught in the wind.

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White wisteria.

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Looking up.

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Going up to the main hall.

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The main hall with glare from the sun.

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Koi nobori from the main hall.

I hope all the children will be strong this year.

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Filed under Culture, Festivals & Events, Fujisawa, Japan, Kanagawa, Shrines

US Navy flights during oshogatsu

The issue of the US military in Japan has often been a touchy one for many people.  Voices against them have been getting louder, mostly when one of the servicemen rapes or murders a local person, resulting in tightening control over the soldiers and imposing a curfew on them.  However, there’s something that is irritating a lot of people, even though the military isn’t setting foot on Japanese soil outside the base.

They are doing training flights or exercises over the central Kanagawa area, which is exactly where I live.  Atsugi base is nearby, so there are bound to be many jets flying overhead.  I’ve come to accept that as normal.  However, January 1st to 3rd is Oshogatsu, the Japanese New Year, and the most important holiday period in the country.  It’s a time spent quietly going to shrines and temples to pray for the new year.  Quietly is the key word.  Around here, and especially the Fujisawa and Kamakura areas with many big temples and shrines, there are thousands of people trying to pray and wish for a good year.  But with frequent booming roars of jet engines overhead, it’s got a lot of people furious.  You’d think they’d tone it down a bit to pay some respects to the local traditions. It seems like I get to hear a jet, plane, or helicopter over my home every 30 minutes.

For a couple of days, many people just want peace.

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Filed under Daily Life, Festivals & Events

Okome Matsuri, the Rice Festival

The Okome Matsuri, or Rice Festival, is being held at Yokohama’s Aka Renga Soko this weekend.  My family and I went to it yesterday afternoon and enjoyed the sunny weather and plenty of food.

Aka Renga Soko is often used as the site of many events.  Oktoberfest is also there.  At the festival, there were several tents set up for food vendors, which were selling a large variety of interesting foods.  I’d like to talk about what I ate, since everyone was there for the food.

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The festival grounds with the Red Brick Warehouses in the background.

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Ebi kushiten (Shrimp tempura on a stick) was pretty good. I love shrimp tempura, and the sauce was very good.

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Maguro gyoza (tuna gyoza) was an interesting food. Usually, gyoza has pork and vegetables in it, this had tuna. It was quite good.

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This was some of the food, including mabodofu (at top), maguro gyoza, pork, ebi kushiten, and some tomato dish which I didn’t eat. At the bottom was nori.

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Grilled chicken with onion sauce was delicious. I love grilled chicken!

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Tenkara, which is karaage (fried chicken), was very good. It seemed to have a bit of a garlic flavour.

In addition to the above food, we also had 6 kinds of rice.  There were 12 types of rice available, but we chose 6.  Honestly, I didn’t find much of a difference between them.

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Other people enjoying the festival.

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Some of the vendors.

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One last picture. The sign says “Okome Matsuri.”

There was a lot of good food, and I enjoyed trying it.  I filled up on rice and plenty of meats.  It’s running until tomorrow (November 18), so if you want to check it out, I definitely recommend it.

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Filed under Festivals & Events, Food, Japan, Kanagawa, Naka-ku, Yokohama

Sanma Matsuri and Typhoon 17

On September 30th, there were two events.  One was local, the other was major.

First, in Ofuna, Kamakura, there was a big festival.  This was the Sanma Festival.  Sanma is the Japanese name for a fish called Pacific saury.  But not only was this a festival about a small fish that’s grilled on a stick, it’s also a friendship festival between Ofuna and the city of Ofunato in Iwate prefecture.  Ofunato was one of the cities devastated by the tsunami of March 11, 2011.  Ofuna and Ofunato share the same kanji (大船 and 大船渡).  I managed to take a few pictures of it that afternoon.

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It’s a busy festival with lots of food.

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This intersection was being controlled so festival-goers weren’t hit by traffic.

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This banner flag says “Sanma matsuri.”

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Look at all that food.

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Finally, a picture from down on the street.

The festival ended at 3pm, which is quite early.  The reason was that Typhoon 17 (Jelawat) was on its way.  When it hit Okinawa, it was equivalent to a category 4 hurricane, and was called a super typhoon.  There was plenty of damage and power outages in Okinawa, but in the Tokyo area, we didn’t have to worry very much.  It rained a lot and the wind was strong, but it was pretty brief.

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A wet window during the typhoon.

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Filed under Culture, Festivals & Events, Japan, Kamakura, Kanagawa, Weather

2012 Picture of the Week (32/52) – Warabi Festival Decorations

On Friday, I went to the Warabi Matsuri (Festival) for the 3rd year in a row. This time, we went right at the beginning of the festival. Very little food was available and they were still putting up the decorations. This is one of the bigger decorations that was still waiting for installation.

I was standing under this with my head in the gold streamers.

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Filed under Festivals & Events, Japan, Picture of the Week, Saitama, Warabi