November 29, 2008

A Sea of Lights

This month, I had the opportunity to attend two bamboo light festivals. One called Takeyoi Festival and the other Chikuraku Festival. This post collects a number of photos I took at Chikuraku Festival, my favorite of the two. The festivals consisted of over 10,000 bamboo stalks cut into various lenghts and bound together in numerous designs.

In areas of high concentration, one would feel a slight floating sensation as is depicted in the above and below photos.

On the various paths throughout the town that lea up to the castle and temples, bamboo candles were lined up along the steps making the stairs impassable, but the result was stunning.

Certain temples and shops added their own flair to the standard grouping of three stalks tied together. The flowers below were stunning.

Between the main groupings of candles and 'main' sights you could find groups of candles leading you to the next destination. They had their own charm too.

These two festivals were magical (幻想) and my favorite so far in Japan. I will definitely be returning each year as long as I am in the area.

November 26, 2008

Hiking in the Kuju Mountain Range

Well, it certainly is Fall here in Japan and that means I'm freezing and about to die? Yes, but that is not what I'm getting at. It means 紅葉 Fall foliage and pristine hiking. About 3 maybe 4 weeks back, when the leaves where just starting to change, I took a little road trip to the Kuju mountain range 久住山々, which is in Aso-Kuju National Park, to test my feet on its slopes.

I was not disappointed. In fact, I was floored to find out that there is hiking of this caliber in my relative area--Hiking trails of all levels are abundant, even a "marathon" park with different exercise courses (aka flat walks), quite a few summitable peaks and genuine splendid natural beauty not to mention a copious amount of onsen 温泉 to sooth those aching muscles and feet after a hard days hike. There is even a flower park くじゅう花公園. I am already planning to return and spend the night this time in one of the many ryokan 旅館 that spot the Kuju Plateau. This time I hope to climb Mt. Nakadake, which is the highest mountain in Kyusyu standing at 5870 feet/1,791m. I think this might become a regular hiking place for me. After searching around for some photos, the mountain range looks great in winter and spring too.

Here is an overhead view from Google Earth

For more info from another blogger, check out this post.

November 13, 2008

The Myth of Kagura

I had the opportunity to see kagura about three weekends back. The town which held the 5 hour performance is famous throughout Kyushu for its Kagura dances, and with good reason. It was truely amazing, and seemed like the whole town pulled together to make the event happen. I learned that a couple of my students are actually in training at the moment. But this isn't normal training, they start young at elementary school and don't preform as official dancers or music players until they are in their late teens. That is some dedication. I edited the video into the essence of the story that was told at the performance. Enjoy.

November 11, 2008

Glico Man On Acid

Ebisu Bridge, Shinsaibashi, Osaka, Japan

If you have ever been to Osaka, you have undoubtedly seen the famous Glico man shining on the canal side of Dotumbori. He is probably one of the most photographed attractions in Osaka. I managed to catch him when he thought no one was looking and dropped a tab of acid. But seriously, the lights along Dotumbori and Ebisu Bridge are not to be missed. They just finished redoing the bridge that runs over Dotumburi and added a nice space to walk and sit along the canal just below the bridge. If your feet are tired or you just want to soak up some neon, make sure you check it out.

November 10, 2008

Don't Touch My Wiener

Street Poster in Osaka
Here is your funny picture of the day. The greatest thing about this poster is that I don't even know what it is advertising. I seriously think there is a genius foreigner who puts up inappropriate/hilarious English signs up just for our amusement. Have a good one.

November 8, 2008

Osaka After Two Years

I journey back to Osaka after 2 years hiatus--taste some Takoyaki, drink some grape vinegar, and visit Sitennoji Temple. Watch as I brave the streets fighting the tide of people to mount Ebisu Bridge on Dotumbori and enjoy a little street music in Namba.

November 5, 2008

My Name Obama

Congratulations Americans. As my Japanese Grandma and Grandpa said today the world will change. This is a sure fact--the world will change. I hope for the better. Time will tell. For those of you living overseas who might not have seen the President-elect Barack Obama's speech, you can find it here. This is certainly an exciting time to be alive even though uncertainty and crisis seem to be lurking at every corner. Let us lead the world to a better tomorrow through our actions today.

Courtesy of stuckincustoms

Anywho, enjoy this clip on Youtube. It is of a Japanese comedian who resembles Obama, well at least as much as a Japanese person can :) It chronicles his quest to meet and shake hands will the bona fide man himself. Skip to 3:40 to see him hilariously shake hands with Obama. The real Obama's reaction is priceless.