Thursday, January 18, 2018

February 2018; Upcoming Kansai Events


2/2? 11:30. Onda festival, featuring a comic play about a demon's sexual relations with his wife. Asuka niimasu jinja. Near Asuka-daibutsu-mae bus stop.

2/1–3/16. 10:00. Shikayose. Deer calling/feeding in Nara using a French horn.

2/3-4. 10:00-17:00. One World Festival. Around Ogimachi Park.

  • 2/3 Narita-San near Korien station.
  • Taga shrine...
  • Kiimidera temple. Near kiimidera station.
  • Ikuta shrine. Near sannomiya station.
  • Daikakuji will have performances of kyogen and puppets. Near Amagasaki station.

2/3-4. Fishing Show, exhibitions at INTEX convention center near Nakafuto station.

2/6? 20:00. Oto Matsuri, flaming torch festival. Near SHINGU STATION at Kamikura shrine in Kumano Hayatama taisha of Wakayama prefecture.

2/6?. After sunset. Flamming torch procession. At Kamikura jinja shrine near Shingu station in Wakayama prefecture.

2/8. Ceremony for worn out sewing needles at Horinji in Kyoto.

2/11. Minato Festival. From Kushimoto station to Oshimako bus station.

2/11. Onikoso, scaring away evil ogres. Costumed ogres and flaming torches. Chikurinzan Joshoji Temple. 30 minute walk from Tanigawa station.

2/11?. 11:00. Sunakake Matsuri, the sand fight festival. Horyuji station.

Rokko Ice Sculpture Festival?

2/11. 09:00-16:00. World Hobby Fair

2/10-12. 09:00-18:00. Automesse Car Show. INTEX near Nakafuto station.

2/13? Living Hina Doll event Gokashi Omishoin-Yashiki in Shiga. Notogawa station bus to Plaza Sanpoyoshi.

2/16-17. Machine Show. Exhibition of industrial equipment. Entry is free. At INTEX near Nakafuto station.

2/23?. 11:00. Godairiki-son Ninno-e, a strength contest. Try to lift a 150kg rice cake (90kg for women). 600 yen. Daigo-ji temple in Kyoto.

2/25? Kitano Tenmangu plum blossom festival. Bus from Demachiyanagi station to....

2/25. Firewalking at Sugawara shrine. Yasu station to Ebe bus stop.

2/8-14. 18:00-21:00. Nara Rurie.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Toka Ebisu 2018; Imamiya Photo Highlights

今宮戎 十日戎 2018

Held around the the 10th day of the new year, the Toka Ebisu Festival at Imamiya Ebisu Shrine is one of the biggest events in Osaka.
Visitors swarms to the shrine to purchase new charms and dispose of old charms. There are hundreds of vendorts' stalls lining the streets that sell charms, decorations, toys, candy and typical festival foods.

Note the police office overseeing the crowd from the second floor window.

Charm featuring Ebisu (the god of prosperity, commerce and fishermen).
Note the rake shaped charms that are meant to rake in good fortune.

The shrine has a new billboard every year with a theme relating to that year's zodiac animal.
This year is the year of the dog; you can see the other animals featured along the edges.

The stone lanterns have protective  barriers. Not only to protect the lanterns but to prevent people from being injured in the rushing crowds.

I like the cross-eyed grin of this girl as she looks at the charm she is holding.

This photo is out of focus and obscured by the crowd, but I like the face that the girl is making too much.

The charms being sold here are miniature rice bales, meant to represent wealth and prosperity.
When the charms are sold, they are attached to a bamboo branch.

Nice pose. Note all of the hair decorations.

The beautiful young women who are staffed to sell the charms are a major attraction for photographers.

These golden hats are a typical feature of the Ebisu festivals.

The stalls selling lucky charms look beautiful at night under the glow of incandescent bulbs.

Dog figures on ema plates at the shrine. The odd design of these plates look very cat-like.

An odd man on a power scooter rolling through the crowds with his falcon.

Depictions of Ebisu.

All of the seven lucky gods.

Rows of lanterns line Ebise Shrine.

Ebisu; the god of Wi-Fi signals?

This logo looks like Stewie from Family Guy.

The area where donations are thrown is under a canopy shaped like huge Japanese umbrella.

The lucky girls of the shrine.

Fish charms being sold. The sea-bream, tai, is a lucky fish that is associated with Ebisu.
The tai is also linked to good luck because the word "tai" is thought to sound like the word "omedetai" which means "congratulations."

Rice bail and gold coin charms that are made to be attached to bamboo branches.

All of the bamboo branches being carried make the scene look like a moving forest.

A nice view of one of the shrine girls.

Bamboo sprigs being given out for free.
Note the instructions that are provided in English.

The shrine always has some young international students working as lucky maidens.

Colorful banana treats.

Colorful daruma dolls being sold.
These artistic daruma were quite expensive, starting at 5000 yen.
Note that the eyes are not painted; when you buy a daruma doll you paint on eye to show that you are working on a goal and you paint in the other eye when you have achieved the goal.

Old charms being collected so that they can be burned later.
These bins were rapidly filled and then rolled away.

Even this young man with his less than conservative dreadlocks and ripped jeans participates in this fun piece of traditional Japanese culture.

Crowds pass through many stalls of charm sellers at the shrine.

A group of girls with thematic kimono.

Charms for sell.
Note the shallow baskets which the plastic figures are housed in; these baskets were used for catching fish in shallow water, because Ebisu is the god of fishermen.

A ring of fish being cooked over an open flame.

An antiques shop was selling all sorts of oddities along the street.

This man was taking his rabbits for a walk through the crowds.

A permanent statue of Ebisu in the Ebisu-bashi shotengai (Ebisu bridge shopping street).

Ebisu theme to the decorations in the Ebisu-bashi shotengai.


Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Mikechi-shinji - Archery Ritual at Sumiyoshi


The Mikechi-shinji is a ritual in which the evil spirits which may plague the crops of farmers are driven away by sacred arrows. The ritual is also meant to invite god fortune for everyone involved.
The ceremony is performed by members of the Osaka Kyudo Federation who are first blessed in the main shrine before taking their bows to the archery site.
This year, 2018, the ritual took place on the grounds of Emperor Meiji's villa, which is usually a place that is closed off for visitors.

Shimenawa, sacred ropes create a purified space on the gounds.
The decorative, beautiful, volcanic stones are typical or ornate zen gardens.

the mounds of gravel. These mark the standing position from which the archers are to shoot.
The arrows come from within the purified sacred space for the ritual.

Note the men's eboshi hat which is swept back, like a shark's fin.

The process of shooting arrows is methodical and ritualized going through a series of poses.

Note the sonkyo position (a type of squatting bow that is also seen in sumo and kendo).

Note the asagutsu, which are old style wooden clogs covered in black lacquer.
Every round involves two archers preparing in unison (though they do not rush to force arrows to fly at the same time).

Every archer uses a pair of arrows; the male and female.

Breathe control as the string is drawn, elbows move apart and the arrow is lowered to eye-level.

Note the way that the bow twists around backwards as the grips is relaxed to let the string follow through with the arrow.

Special attendants fetch the arrows after both arrows have been shot. The arrow caddy then returns the arrow to the correct owner.
Note the large camphor tree (kusunoki) with the shimenawa rope around it.

Note the difference in the women's clothing. The sleeves are made to be drawn back and there is a long piece of fabric that covers the front of the body.

The archer keeps eye contact on the target as she reaches out and feels the bow before finding her grip.

Note the difference in the womens' headware. There is no long headband holding the hat (eboshi) in place.
The womens' eboshi does not have the back swept shape that the mens' eboshi has.

The sun to her back has a nice lighting effect.
Note that you can see through the mesh material of the eboshi.

observers raise a signal to note a hit.
You can see a garden style ishi-tarou, stone lantern, in the background.

A second set of observers acknowledge the signal from the first set. Raising a set of sacred papers, shide.

Another shot of the arrows being retrieved. The situation is clearer with this pose.

The bow and arrows are checked and the archer removes his sleeve after entering the sacred ring.

Note the formal dagger that is being worn with the Heian era costume.
Also note the various strings that are used to tie the sleeves.

Interesting wrapping on this beautiful bow.

Fans and some sort of paper (?) are left by the archers seats during the ceremony.
As the temperature was near freezing for this New Years ceremony there was not much need for a fan.

After the archery is complete the party lines up in front of the audience.

Shinto priests bless the party and conclude the ceremony.

This tree is registered with Osaka as one of the special trees. it is about 9 meters in circumference and 18 meters tall.

A rare glimpse inside of this imperial villa, which exists in a closed off part of the shrine campus.
This chair, bearing an imperial crest, is labeled as the "king seat."

After the ritual you can see the arrow holes in the target.
Note the concentric circle design; this is the "mist target" style called "kasumi mato."

Landmark stone identifying the villa of Emperor Meiji.

Note the imperial banners in the doorway.
Also note the the stairs are covered with a tarp to keep them pristine for formal use.
This event granted no access to the inside of the villa but the audience could watch the ritual from the side porch.

Note the imperial crest on the ceramic roof cap.

The east side of the villa is secluded by a pond but it is visible to the shrine visitors.

This pine tree stretches out low over the pond.

The main building of the shrine.
Note the coral in front that is used to collect donations with a large sheet that is stretched out over the ground.
Also note the pine branch which is covered in the white paper of the omikuji, fortune papers.

The beautiful style of these buildings make them an official national treasure.

Note the colorful origami cranes which are chained together as form of prayer.

This temporary scaffolding offers a place to tie their omikuji.

This sacred will is surrounded by a temporary rope scaffolding.

A stone marker which recognizes the honden, main shrine area, as a national treasure.