Summer 2009 festivals

I got a lot of summer festival videos online at YouTube, especially awa odori:

Koenji Awa Odori 2009 1/3
Koenji Awa Odori 2009 2/3
Koenji Awa Odori 2009 3/3
Minami-Koshigaya Awa Odori 1/2
Minami-Koshigaya Awa Odori 2/2
Aoishin-ren at Minami-Koshigaya Awa Odori
Mitaka Awa Odori 1/2
Mitaka Awa Odori 2/2
Nakamurabashi Awa Odori 1/5
Nakamurabashi Awa Odori 2/5
Nakamurabashi Awa Odori 3/5
Nakamurabashi Awa Odori 4/5
Nakamurabashi Awa Odori 5/5
Kita-Urawa Awa Odori 1/3
Kita-Urawa Awa Odori 2/3
Kita-Urawa Awa Odori 3/3
Otsuka Awa Odori, Tokyo
Matsuri Tsukuba and Nebuta Parade
Sendai Tanabata Matsuri 2009 1/3
Sendai Tanabata Matsuri 2009 2/3
Sendai Tanabata Matsuri 2009 3/3
Yamagata Hanagasa Matsuri 2009
Fukushima Waraji Matsuri 1/2
Fukushima Waraji Matsuri 2/2
Asakusa Samba Carnival 2009
Hachioji Matsuri, Tokyo
Yokohama Port Opening Expo
Kanko Maru Yokohama cruise
Yokota Air Base Japanese-American Friendship Festival 2009
Fussa Tanabata Star Festival
Asagaya Tanabata Matsuri

Here are the photos:
Koenji Awa Odori 2009
Minami-Koshigaya Awa Odori
Mitaka Awa Odori
Kita-Urawa Awa Odori, Saitama
Nakamurabashi Awa Odori 2009, Nerima
Otsuka Awa Odori, Tokyo
Matsuri Tsukuba and Nebuta Parade
Kaminoyama Castle, Yamagata
Yokota Air Base Japanese-American Friendship Festival 2009
Fussa Tanabata Star Festival
Asagaya Tanabata Matsuri
Fukushima Tanabata
Hachioji Matsuri, Tokyo
EXPO Y150: Yokohama Port Opening 150th
Edogawa Fireworks

Tohoku summer festivals in Sendai, Yamagata, and Fukushima

I finally revisited Sendai during Aug. 6-8 to see the famous Tanabata Festival, the grand daddy of all Tanabata Matsuris in Japan. I was not disappointed. Sendai’s Tanabata is definitely a few notches above any other Tanabata in Japan. Most of the streamers are made of paper instead of plastic. And all those origami paper cranes. I shudder to think how many man-hours were spent to make them. Click on the image to see more photos.

From Sendai, I took a day trip to neighboring Yamagata to see the Yamagata Hanagasa Matsuri, an evening parade of dancers wearing a flower hat.

On the way back to Tokyo, I stopped by Fukushima to see the Fukushima Waraji Matsuri Festival which is another evening dance parade with a twist. Sometimes you see dancers wear waraji straw sandals.

Nathalie Daoust exhibitions in Tokyo, Aug. 2009

Montreal-born photographer and friend Nathalie Daoust will have two exhibitions in Tokyo from late Aug.

Hide and Sex
At the Vanilla Gallery from August 24 to September 12, 2009
2nd Kamata Bld.4F, 6-10-10 Ginza, Chuo-ku Tokyo,104-0061
Business Hours: 12:00-19:00 weekdays,
12:00-17:00 Saturday and holidays, closed on Sunday
TEL&FAX 03 5568 1233

Her second exhibition:

Frozen in Time, Switzerland
Aug. 21-25, 2009

Rocket Gallery
〒150-0001 東京都渋谷区神宮前6-9-6
HOURS: 12:00-19:30

These images are set in an ambiguous territory where dream and reality clash. In this altered state of reality, stillness and silence permeate each image, each is a moment frozen in time. Here memory and introspection create a labyrinth of illusion, mystery and fantasy. Although the images are part of a series, each is unique and non-sequential. The narrative that evolves throughout the works is a personal one, a journey, steeped in self-scrutiny, towards coming to terms with one’s identity through life experiences, loss and sorrow as well as pleasure.


「Hide and Sex」Exhibition at the Vanilla Gallery from August 24 to September 12

〒104-0061中央区銀座6-10-10 第二蒲田ビル4階
電話 03-5568-1233

「Hide and Sex」とは、サディズムとマゾヒズムに対して現代の日本人女性が非常に特殊化しているということを前提に、彼女達の精神世界を多角的に検討しようという試みである。


現実よ りも幻想の中で生きようとしている彼女(もしくは彼)達へ。ナタリーのメッセージは、そのような現実社会を逸脱した、きわめて個人的な≪誰か≫のために発信し続けられるものなのだ。


現実と非現実――その境は曖昧で不明瞭で、意識下において行われるという意味ではむしろ同じものだとも言えなくはない。今回は、そのあやふやな〈虚〉と〈実〉の間を揺れる、極めて抽象的な感覚の視覚化を試みた。もちろんそれは非常に実験的なものであったことはいうまでもないだろう。茫洋とした中で模索を続けながらも、 旧来の技術に基づいた新手法を用いて、「写真」という媒体をさらに次のものへと昇華させる。それが、わたしが考える一芸術家としての使命なのである。

Frozen in Time, Switzerland
Nathalie Daoust
2009 8/21(fri)-8/25 (tue) 12:00-19:30

〒150-0001 東京都渋谷区神宮前6-9-6
tel&fax 03-3499-1003

カナダ、モントリオールに生まれ、世界を舞台に独特の世界を表現し続けている写真家Nathalie Daoust (ナ
タリー・ドースト)。本展では、彼女が6ヶ月にわたるスイス滞在の間に撮影した写真シリーズFrozen in Time を
Nathalie Daoust

モントリオール生まれ。Cegep du Vieux-Montreal にて写真を学んだ後、ニューヨークに移り住み、処女作となる「New York
Hotel Story」を制作。2001年より東京のネオンドキュメント作成のため日本に2年間滞在。その後、「Entre Quatre Murs,
Berlin」「Street Kiss, Brazil」「Frozen in time, Switzerland」など、世界各所にて斬新なシリーズ作品を制作。カナダ、アメ

More digital cameras in Japanese only

If you cannot read Japanese, beware when buying a digital camera in Japan. More manufacturers are starting to provide only Japanese (and maybe English as well) as the interface language that appears on the menu screens.

Lumix, by Panasonic, is one popular camera brand which provides only Japanese language on its menu screens. If you cannot read Japanese, think twice about buying a Lumix in Japan. Other brands might provide at least English.

Digital cameras for the Japanese market used to include all the languages provided on export models including English, European languages, Chinese, etc. But not anymore. Be sure to check if the camera you want will display in your preferred language.

Apparently, this is to stem the export of Japanese-market cameras to overseas. But this is not good for people living in Japan and cannot read Japanese. Let’s see which camera makers will provide at least English in addition to Japanese. Or which will continue to provide all the available languages in their digicams.

Spring 2009 festivals

Went to see a slew of matsuri during April-May 2009. Here are a few of them in videos and stills.

Inabe Shrine in Toin, Mie Prefecture, Japan holds the Oyashiro Matsuri festival on the first weekend of April. The main event is the Ageuma (Leaping Horse) ceremony when six young lads ride a horse at full speed and try to leap up and over a steep earthen wall.


The Saio princess was an unmarried, young Imperial princess, often the Emperor’s daughter, who was appointed (by divination) to be the High Priestess of Ise Grand Shrines in Mie Prefecture from the 7th to 14th centuries. For about 660 years, over 60 Saio princesses served at Ise Grand Shrines. The new Saio princess traveled from Kyoto to her Saiku palace near the Ise Shrine. The journey took 5 nights and 6 days, and passed through Tsuchiyama in Koka, Shiga Prefecture. Held on the last Sunday in March, this festival reenacts the Saio Gunko procession in Tsuchiyama to Tarumi Tongu which was one of the five temporary palaces where the Saio lodged along the way. You could call this festival a continuation or sequel to Kyoto’s famous Aoi Matsuri procession which has a Saio-dai princess.


Held for the first time in six years on May 4, 2009 by Nyu Shrine in Yogo, Shiga Prefecture, Japan, the festival features sacred dances, three floats topped with lofty “balancing act” decorations with dolls and teacups, and a procession of colorful dancers and musicians mostly performed by local children. Chigo-no-Mai, Miko-no-Mai, Suzu-no-Mai, Ogi-no-Mai, Hanagasa Odori, and other dances were performed. Also see Shiga Governor Yukiko Kada pulling a float.


In Shiga Prefecture, Japan, Nagahama’s most famous festival features authentic kabuki plays performed by boys in mid-April. A few ornate floats on wheels serve as the stage for talented young actors. This video was shot on April 15, 2009 and shows clips from kabuki performances from all the four floats.

Held by Hiyoshi Taisha Shrine in Otsu, Shiga Prefecture, Japan (not to be confused with the Sanno Matsuri held in Tokyo), the annual Sanno Matsuri is held during April 12-14 and features processions, torches at night, violent rocking of portable shrines, and a boat procession on Lake Biwa. This Part 1 video shows the festival on April 13, 2009 which climaxed with the violent rocking of mikoshi portable shrines at night.


Wakayama Castle and sakura

Wakayama Castle

This year, Japan had a terrific string of sunny days right during the peak cherry blossom season in early April. Usually, it rains or storms half the time while the cherries are in full bloom. But this year was sunny skies and little wind. I had a great time going out to shoot the flowers under blue skies every day for a week.

One place I visited was Wakayama Castle. Great place to shoot a castle with cherry blossoms.

More sakura photos coming later.

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