New Facebook Group

I’ve just created a new Facebook Group called Photographers Japan for imaging professionals in Japan.

If you’re a professional photographer, videographer, or working in a related field (writers, editors, art directors, gallery owners, etc.) in Japan, I invite you to join the group.

Networking, information sharing, self-promotion, and as well as making it easier for potential clients to find and hire a pro photographer in Japan are the main purpose of the group.

Anybody can join the group, but I would allow only relevant professionals to start discussion board threads to promote themselves and their activities. Amateurs and people in unrelated occupations should remain read-only members.

PhotoWho’sWho moved

My collection of biographies of Japanese photographers called PhotoWho’sWho has been completely transferred to a new URL at:

This transfer was in the works off and on for 3 years. The transfer of all 200 bios was finally completed in April 2010. Note that the bios have not been updated, it was mainly a copy-and-paste operation with almost no new information added in the process. A few broken links have been fixed, but that’s about it.

The transfer was made because PhotoWho’sWho was previously run by a software system (the now-defunct Post-Nuke) not geared for search engine optimization. The URLs were terribly long and cryptic. The new software system at PHOTOGUIDE.JP uses the same search engine-optimized system running Wikipedia.

PhotoRepairs updated

My list of camera service/repair centers in Japan for all major manufacturers has been totally updated. It also has a new URL:

I found that only Nikon and Pentax has an English list of camera repair centers in Japan. Bravo to them. I provide direct links to their repair center list in English.

Otherwise, I have translated the addresses, etc., for the repair centers of other major camera equipment makers in Japan.

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.

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.


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