Monday, May 22, 2017

Kobe Matsuri 2017 Photo Highlights

Kobe Matsuri 2017; Photo Highlights
The Kobe Matsuri (Festival) was held 5/19-5/21. The finale of the festival was the huge parade that was held on 5/21 near Sannomiya station. 
Samba dancer with a Kobe Tower head dress.

Port of Kobe group.
The guy near the back looks like a real life Popeye.
A typical festival costume. This kid was with a Japanese matsuri themed group with a home made omikoshi.
Miko, a shrine maiden.
A samba group.
As a kids' English teacher, I often feel the way the this guy looks.
A Samba team getting ready for the parade.
There were multiple samurai groups in the parade.
A kyudo (Japanese archery) club.
This group had large koi-no-bori (carp streamers).
A costume group. I like the enthusiasm of the grasshopper boy.
The parade had several marching bands.
This baton twirling group had really good synchronization.
Unicycles are really popular with kids in Japan.
Wedding planners have their own parade groups. The driver of this pedicab is streaming bubbles. 
A yosakoi group doing the popualar "koi dance" in front of Ikuta shrine.
A marching band in front of Ikuta Shrine.
The Hyogo Red Cross has a Macy's style ballon.
The "Jedi Order" had a Star Wars theme.
This cosplayer does a good Chirrut Imwe (playe by Donnie Yen in Rogue One).
Yoda, Bobba Fett and R2D2.
Queen Amidala with her grandson, Kylo Ren.
Kylo looks like he has had enough of the heat, his mask and this parade.
Darth Vader and storm troopers in front of Ikuta Shrine.
A group of crane operators formed their own parade unit.
This zebra crane is being driven by a man in a Kumamon hemet.
The Myanmar group has a character that reminded me of the California Raisins.
Port of Kobe Tower mascot.
A blindfolded man riding a 2-meter unicycle juggling knives.
The street performer market in Japan is getting competitive.
The Vissel soccer team. The fan in the background looks really excited.
This group of performers put on an action show similar to the old Power Rangers.
A traditional Japanese dance group.
This is the popular kite dance, part of the Awa Odori tradtional dances.
In this dance the man in the colorful outfit with outstretched arms is a kite, another dancer plays the role of the kite flier.
In this dance the kite falls to the ground and the flier stuggles to get it back in the air.
In this version two kites got tangled together.
Okinawan style Eisa dancers.
A mixed group of various yosakoi teams.
 This person is dressed a Sun Wukong, the Monkey King, from Journey to the West.
Gun weilding Hojo samurai with a nice watch.
Mother-son samurai team.
Korean ribbon dancers with their distinct spinning headgear.
A large group of cheerleaders.
 There was one girl who did not bother with dancing or shaking her pom-poms.
She got into cheer-leading for the long, leisurely walks.
The Kobe Culture Center.
The were performing Baroque dance in Versailles court costumes.
Marie Antoinette and attendants.
Samba dancers.
Samba dancer. This group wore skin colored tights.
Wow, those are really nice... costumes.
Male samba dancer.
Male samba dancer.
Samba dancers.
Samba dancers.
This little samba dancer tired out early on.
Samba dancer who was especially adept at posing for photos.
Samba dancers.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Horse Racing in Japan and the Emperor's Prize

The Takasegawa Stakes race. Number 12 is Edenhall ridden by Mirco Demuro.

Saburo Kitajima.
The owner of Kitasan Black is a famous enka singer and actor in Japan.
Takasegawa Stakes race.
The old grandstands which stood at the site before the new facilities were constructed.
A very modest looking setup.
A floral statue at the Japan Race Association racetrack in Kyoto.
The track facilities near Yodo station in southern Kyoto.
You can see the an exhibition ring in the photo.
This ring connects to training facilities and the track via a tunnel.
There is a large playground area including a bouncy hill.
Between races a large number of groundskeepers check the turf.
There were 12 races run on the day but the stands are packed during the 11th race for the Emperors Prize.
Bentenshima; the course runs around a pond.
 In the center of that pond is an island with a shrine to the goddess Benten.
Benten is one of Japan's seven lucky gods.
Maiko, apprentice geisha, hand out flowers at the Emperors Prize ceremony.
The winner's circle has pedestals labeled for the rider, trainer and owner.
This rider is Mirco Demuro, the jockey for Edenhall in the Takasegawa Stakes race.
Meiner Barman leading the pack in the Tango Stakes race.
Takasegawa Stakes race.
A horse hauling van in Japan.
It looks like a fancy tour bus.
Maiko presenting flowers to the winners of the Emperor's Prize.
Horses under review before the Tango Stakes race.
During races an ambulance runs on an inner track to provide immediate care if a rider falls off.
The horse ambulance is also standing by, but it does not run every race like the human ambulance does.
The horse ambulance arrived about one minute after the pictured ambulance loaded the jockey.
Kitasan Black wins the Emperors Prize in record time.
3200 meters in 3 min 12.5 sec.
The prize is 150 million yen for first place (about ten times as much as is offered for any other race that day).
The promotional materials featured the winner from the previous year.
The same horse and rider won the Emperors Prize this year.
Given the promotions and name recognition I imagine a lot of people bet on this winner.
The JRA mascot, Turfy, wears an emperors costume during the day of the Emperors Prize race.
A betting card.
Select the racecourse, race number, bet type (I recommend the win option as the simplest. the "bracket quinella" is unique to Japanese racing.), horse numbers (1st, 2nd an third choice), bet amount, currency quantity (10,000s, thousands or hundreds of yen), and a "cancel" box (if you want to cancel a bet and continue with the bets in the other boxes).
A betting machine.
It scans your betting cards (up to 20 at once) and takes your money.
The betting age is 20 in Japan.
You will have 30-45 minutes between races to place a bet in Kyoto.