Thursday, June 29, 2017

Schedule of blooming plants in Kansai

January 1月

  • Daffodil (Narcissus) - スイセン
  • Winter Sweet - ロウバイ

February 2月

  • Christmas Rose - クリスマスバラ
  • Plum Tree - 梅

March 3月

  • Camellia - つばき (椿)
  • White Magnilia - はくせくれん (白セク練)

April 4月

  • Cherry Trees - さくら (桜)
  • Flowering Dogwood - ハナミズキ

May 5月

  • Chinese Peony - シャクヤク (芍薬)
  • Roses - バラ
  • Rhododendrons - シャクナゲ

June 6月

  • Hydrangeas - あじさい
  • Magnolias - タイサンボク
  • Japanese iris - ハナショウブ

July 7月

  • Lotus - ハス
  • Water Lily - スイレン

August 8月

  • American Coral Tree - アメリカデイコ  
  • Hibiscus / Lotus Blossom - フヨウ

September 9月

  • Brugmansia - キダチョウセナサガオ
  • Japanese Clover - ハギ

October 10月

  • Cosmos - コスモス
  • Rose - バラ
  • Pampas Grass - パンパスグラス

November 11月

  • ? Dahlia - コダチダリア
  • Thoroughwort - フジバカマ
  • Paperplant - やつで

December 12月

  • Christmas Camellia
  • Himalayan Cherry Tree - ヒマラヤザクラ
  • Chinese Camellia - カンツバキ

Kamae Guy; A D.I.Y. Kendo Dummy

This is a design diagram. Not all parts are labeled but you can extrapolate measurements based on scale.
The "1cm = 7 in." notation means that one centimeter on paper represents 7 inches in real scale.
The dummy is designed to clamp a shinai into place and use springs to hold a chudan no kamae while the user practices various waza..
Note the padded sections where the shinai connects; foam knee pads for kote, a garden pad for dou, toolbox liner over old denim jeans for men.
The backside of the KamaeGuy dummy.
Note the wide plywood base used to stabilize the device.
The edge of the base should have edges that are rounded off and sanded smooth the avoid injuring the user's feet.
The screws that are driven up through the base should have slight pilot holes and be counter-sunk to avoid scratching the floor.

Materials and Construction
This dummy can be built with supplies that are typical of construction site scraps; as none of the 2x4s are longer than 4 feet. If you were to buy all of the materials from a home supply store it would cost a little over $100.
The materials consist of the following:
  1. 2x4 lumber
  2. 3/4 inch plywood sheet
  3. 3 inch wood screws 
  4. 7 inch threaded bolt
  5. 4 carriage bolts to tighten the hand clamps
  6. 5 wing nuts
  7. metal washers for the bolt and nut
  8. 10 small eye bolts for the spring and clamp assembly
  9. picture hanger wire (I forget which weight rating the wire was but it was relatively heavy for picture wire)
  10. padding materials; knee pads, garden kneeling pad, toolbox liner, old clothes
  11. duct tape (to hold the padding in place)
  12. springs (from a tractor supply store, you could probably try salvaging springs from a trashed trampoline)
  13. a drill; screw tips, one inch spade bit, drill bits the width of the bolts and wood screws, smaller bits for pilot holes...
  14. pliers
  15. wood clamps (helpful but nut necessary)
  16. a saw (a chop saw works well for most cuts, I used a sabre saw for curved cuts)
  17. sand paper; coarse

The difficult part is setting up the springs. The smaller extension springs (about 6 inches and 8 pounds of pull) connect at the shoulders and pull the shinai left or right to keep it centered.
 You will notice that the springs can hook on to multiple rings; use the inner pair for relaxed springs the react softly and slowly for beginners and the outer rings to increase spring tension for harder faster reactions.
 The larger extension spring (about 10 inches and 15 pounds) on the bottom pulls the "hand" clamp down; be careful when tensioning these springs, this is the hardest part, otherwise the kamae will be off center or the force/reaction will not be realistic.
 I can't actually remember the exact specifications for the springs but it may actually be better for you to experiment and look at different springs. The shoulder springs connect to the shinai clamp with steel picture frame wire, the bottom spring connects directly with no need for wire. If the kamae is off just undo the wire and adjust it length.

The dummy is divided at thigh level to create an artificial spine that reacts realistically to tsuki. This also makes the dummy easier to take apart and move or fit inside of a car.
The two halves are connected with a threaded eye-bolt that is tightened into place with a wingnut which does not require special tools to assemble/disassemble.
Notice the two blocks of wood that were added to the point where the two halves are split. This is to support the dummy as it tends to press forward at the joining point; these support block are not shown on the design diagram as they were a later workaround.

A bolt connects the two halves. The block on the front help stabilize the central post.
The back side could also probably benefit from another set of these blocks.
A large spring that pulls the "hand" clamp downward.
This larger spring gives the dummy much of its reactive speed. 
The secondary set of eye bolts allows users to set the springs in a tenser position.
This adds a higher degree of difficulty where the dummy will have greater speed and strength.
Just stretch the springs out and hook them higher/wider apart.
The carriage bolts should have the rounded side on top with the wing nuts on the bottom so nothing will poke through the top padding.
The padding on the bottom side will be stressed by contacting the wing nuts.
The padding on the bottom is protection in case you bump into the clamp during tsuba-zeriai practice.
Note the way that the picture wire is wrapped and crimped down with pliers so there are no lose ends.

Kamae Guy in use; applications and limitations

This video let's you see the Kamae Guy dummy in use, but the unedited video lacks explaination of what is being shown, so I want to point out specific waza with relevant time points.

  • Men-uchi (0:29) - While the user stikes a small men-uchi the dummy keeps chudan-no-kamae
  • Kote-uchi (1:20) - Note that kote is more difficult with the dummy because A) the wire "arms" are an obstacle which could damage your shinai and B) the padded hand clamp is in line with the shinai instead of being angled to the sides like a human's hands.
  • Dou-uchi (1:25) - Because of the forward mast for the front it is easier to practice dou strikes from the back side (though you do not get the benefit of a partner in kamae). After striking with zanshin you can return to front by using a men or dou strike on the back side.
  • Kote-Men (1:40) - For consecutive strikes, the shinai is going to be moving after the first strike so it will be an obstacle to consider as you move through subsequent  strikes. A stationary dummy is good for ni-dan (two step) waza but more complex waza involving an advancing or retreating partner are harder to emulate.
  • Suriage-Men (2:00) - Shikake waza that involve creating an opening in your opponents kamae are the main practical point of this dummy. The user must develop the power, control and timing for these waza
  • Uchi-otoshi (3:00) - By using enough force and/or applying a good follow through to uchi-otoshi to effectively alter the "partner's" position, you will see that the shinai locks into a resting position.
  • Hayasuburi/ Resting position (3:07) - While the dummy is in the resting position you can practice kihon men from either side. If you are practicing hayasuburi with the dummy in front you should be careful; if the dummy's shinai is moved past the locking point then the wires will uncross and the springs will pull the shinai back to chudan (with initial over correction as the springs return to equilibrium) quickly.
  • Tsuba-zeria / hiki-waza (3:40) - When pressing Kamae Guy into a tsuba-zeria position, the heavy bottom spring will be trying to pull the shinai back down into chudan-no-kamae. For this reason, you will need to practice hiki-waza with knowledge that the dummy's shinai may come down on your head if you are too slow (the shinai will come down faster and harder if the springs are set at higher tension).
  • Tsuki (4:10) - When striking tsuki against Kamae Guy you will note that the head tilts back slightly. 
  • However, as the pivot point where the top connects to the bottom rotates a little this seems to stress the wood so later designs could benefit from support blocks similar to the two on the front in order to prevent the wood from splitting.
  • Tsuki-Men (7:47) - As the head is being pressed back a user could practice following up with men after tsuki as the artificial spine is recoiling.
  • Gyaku-dou (7:26) - From the front, it is difficult to practice dou because of the springs but you can practice hiki-dou.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Kendo and Money

Kendo and Money

Money plays a role in every aspect of life.
No matter what your pursuits are in life, you will need to consider your livelihood and finances.

Generally, kendo tends to be free of commercialization. This is a wonderful aspect of kendo.

Of course there are expenses if you are going to pursue kendo.

The equipment in kendo is a considerable outlay that you can expect when you begin.
  • Shinai
When managing a club you should have some extra shinai, not only as spares but also to lend to new people who want to try out kendo. Organizing everyone and placing bull orders can help with the base cost of shinai. Pooling enough spare parts that you can assemble decently matched shinai is also something you can do when you assemble enough people.
  • Dogi & Bogu
Beginners should be around for a a while.
When I was managing my university kendo club, we oftentimes  had newcomers passing through, the turnover was quite high and the majority of people who contacted me only came to one practice (if they ever actually showed up after email inquiries).

I had people who were members of the club for years, who were using borrowed dogi and bogu the whole time. In some cases it became difficult to remind them that it was not their personal property.
If you are willing to lend someone your extra equipment, or your club has storage space with club property you should formalize the lending of equipment. I would like to see borrowers sign a rental agreement form in which expectations (such as maintenance) are laid out and the borrower provides contact information themselves as well as a guarantor so you can get back in touch if the person disappears with the property.

High schools in Japan follow a national curriculum guideline set out by MEXT (the Minisrty of Education, [Culture, Sports, Science] and Technology) which mandates that one of the approved martial arts is offered as a class or club. Do to the cost of supplying kendo equipment to a number of students, schools with limited budgets tend to prefer judo which requires less expensive equipment.

Spring cleaning for the storage room of a Japanese high school's kendo club.
Money and Motivation

No matter how much you try to save money there comes
A point where you will find yourself asking members of your club or dojo to spend money.
People usually tend to be more willing to spend money if they are confronted with the expenses while the are still adventuring into new territory. If they become too accustomed to an environment where everything is provided for free they will be more averse to spending anything later. In that situation a beginner will be more likely to take practice for granted; practice does not cost them anything so it is easier to put it off while prioritizing relaxation time.
I have seen a number of people who were eagerly asking where they can buy bogu on the first day but then find themselves "busy with studying and...stuff" a few weeks later.
It is this high drop out rate that makes kindhearted people feel reluctant to push commitment and investment upon newcomers.
Maybe instilling a sense of value would foster a more serious sense of purpose among beginners.

Managing a university club
Managing a university kendo club there were university regulations on club spend, (elusive) forms of university support and constraints upon club members.
My university was huge (over 30,000 students), but maintaining the minimum number of members (3 or 4) was a challenge. Even small clubs were eligible for certain forms of support from the university but various factors made them difficult to take advantage of. Here is a list of some forms of support I found and the challenges associated with them.

  1. Facilities: A kendo club can reserve sports facilities. However you may find that scheduling can be competitive, especially if you want to use large multi-purpose spaces (like basketball courts). My university required "martial arts" groups to have a "first-aid officer" who was certified in first aid and CPR; usually individuals had to pay for their own certification course (in a place such as the Red Cross or YMCA) but one year the school provided a mass certification for free to a maximum of two people from each club.
  2. Finances: The university had an internal accounting system. Clubs had a account into which funds could be deposited. The advantage of using this account being that there was the possibility that the student government would refer to the account for possible reimbursements of expenses. However, it becomes very difficult to conduct transactions through this account and use of the account to pay outside vendors is greatly delayed and scrutinized by the university hierarchy.
  3. Use of university logos: large universities in America are well known for merchandise licensing so they are protective of logos and commercial opportunities. As there is a design review process, licensing agreements and lists of approved merchandise vendors to consider. All this made it impractical to have a few " 'x' University Kendo Club" jackets or tenugui made.
  4. Transportation: There was a system in which transportation costs could be reimbursed through the club but the vehicles used had to be approved (with proof of insurance and such), then the odometer had to be checked...
  5. Equipment: You would need a large amount of storage space to keep any equipment that the university is supplying. Then someone would have to be responsible for maintaining that equipment so that it is in a safe condition. The consumable nature and the short life span of a shinai was also something that was hard to explain to detached university bureaucrats; "you are buying 'shinai' again?! Didn't you buy those last time?"
  6. Non-student participation: Modern university sports facilities are becoming more focused on security and restricting access, so it often difficult for visitors to access the practice spaces, this often means filing paperwork and asking for money from visitors.
Overall, the financial aspects of the club were not worthwhile within the university system for such a small club.
However, university clubs could benefit from internal money management; students pay a small monthly fee into a club fund (to keep them motivated while giving value to the activity). The club fund could then be used during events to pay for travel expenses to taikai, or for food/entertainment expenses at some sort of year-end party. I often saw that poor university students were reluctant to volunteer in any event that represented a sudden and avoidable. Perhaps spreading out smaller incremental dues payments would help to raise funds for the more expensive group events.

"Find what you love and make money doing it"

This is the standard statement of blanket,  "go get 'em" optimism. Most people, however, need some more measured and nuanced vocational guidance rather than a dismissive, perfunctory platitude.
The are many professional martial arts instructors who run private businesses. But that is not the case with kendo. The few people who make money in kendo are usually just a few of the highest level individuals who host seminars and much of those seminar fees are consumed in travel costs.
In Japan the sensei who teach kendo in police departments and schools often have other duties besides kendo. High school teachers often teach other classes in school and few police instructors are purely focused on kendo instruction.
It also takes a long time to achieve the qualifications held by these very high level pros; they all had to pursue other livelihoods while developing their hobby abilities.

Recently there was a small controversy on the Workd Kendo Network Facebook group; the AirBnB website allows people to make money by hosting tourists on various tours and activities. A man in Tokyo was offering visitors a chance to try kendo. The marketing language was aimed at people who were not familiar (and probably not too serious) about kendo. However, the host offered some real knowledge of kendo, a pleasant experience, guidance with his admirable multi-lingual abilities, prepared lectures and providing accommodations such as venue arrangements, equipment.
A lot of people commenting online seemed upset at the thought of someone commercializing kendo.
The people who use the AirBnB to provide services are usually giving street tours of public places and earning fees from their labor and guidance, so it was interesting to see the controversy over a touristy kendo experience.
In February there was a program in Matsue (Shimane prefecture) which gives tourist a one hour kendo experience to boost the tourist activities in the city and get the community involved, building friendly relations with police and internationalizing the town. The class in Matsue was being taught by volunteer policemen.

Hopefully, in the future, the service industries and kendo can coexist, with the serious pursuit of kendo being an art that is maintained through the practitioners' generosity of spirit.


Monday, June 26, 2017

Upcoming Kansai Events: July 2017

7/26. 9a-noon. Beetle fighting tournament at Takasago shrine. 20 minite walk from Suminoe station.

7/30. 8-8:40p. Shirahama beach fireworks.

7/29. Maizuru fireworks, in the far northern part of Kyoto prefecture.

7/22. Osaka Station. Miss Yukata Contest.

7/29. 4p-9p. Moriyama Summer Festival.

7/13-20. 5p-10p. Kobe,Sammomiya Gion Festival. Gion Shrine.

7/1- Ice lanterns will be in display at Nara's Himuro Shrine. This event happens on the first night of each month. Near Kintetsu Nara Station.

7/2. 10:30a-9pm. Tatsuta Shrine handheld fireworks show. Near JR Sango (near Oji) station in Nara Prefecture. Fireworks start at 9pm.

6/30-7/2. 10a-4p. Kyoto Pulse Plaza Antique Fair.

6/30-7/3. Aizen Matsuri. Near Shitennoji-Mae Yuhigaoka station.

7/1-7/2 to about 4:30pm. Tsurumi-Ryokuchi Park Cosplay Day.

7/1, 7/9. 11a-4p. Farmers Market. Small Farmers Marche near Karasume Oike station in Kyoto.

7/1-7/2. "Reptiles Fever" exhibit at ATC.

Tanabata- The Star Festival 7/7
  • Amanogawa- River lit by LED balls near Temmabashi station
  • Shitennoji Tanabata tunnel. Near Shitennoji Yuhigaoka-mae station. 7/6-7/8.
  • Hatamoto Shrine Tanabata. Near Tsuda station.
  • Tezutsu- handheld fireworks. Fireworks at 7p but thr festival starts at 4:30/. Near Konan station.
  • Umeda City Tanabata. Tanabata decorations at Umeda Sky Building until 8/8.
  • Hoshiai (Star Lovers) matsuri at Osaka Tenmangu. Lights and music at the shrine. Near the Ananogawa LED location.
  • Shiramine Jingu Shrine Tanabata Festival- kemari (a ball kicking game) played at 3pm. A group dance will be performed at 4pm. Horikawa Imadegawa bus stop in Kyoto.
  • Kifune Shrine Water Festival. 10a-Noon. You will need to take a bus from Kifunguchi train station. Lanterns on display until 8pm.
  • Kodai-ji Tanabata. Temple light-up until 9:30p. Bamboo tree decorations.

7/8-7/9. 10a-5p. [6th Annual] Namba Japanese Sword Fair.
View image on Twitter

7/8-8/28. 9:30-4:30p. Sumo and Japanese Swords exhibit at the Osaka History Museum. Near Tanimachi-4chome station. ,

7/11-7/12. 9a-11p. Ikutama Shrine Festival.

7/11-7/14. Kumata Shrine Summer Festival. A great place to see danjiri in Osaka. Near Hirano station. The main parade of danjiri will be on the 13th at 7pm.

7/13. 6:30p. Namba Yasaka Shrine to Dotombori river boat ride.

7/14. Nachi Ogi. Torches paraded to the famous waterfall in Wakayama prefecture.

7/14-8/16. Fun Fan Festa. The 5th floor of Osaka Station City.

7/15-17. Sea Shrine Summer Festival near Tarumi station. 7/16. 10a. Matsuno-o Onda Festival. Rice planting girls are paraded around the shrine on men's shoulders.

7/16-7/17. 10a-8p. Kobe Love Port Minato Matsuri in Meriken Park.

7/17. Summer Featival at Ofusa Kanon Temple. The temple will also have a wind chime festival from 7/1-8/31. Near JR Unebi station.

7/17. 10a-3p. Himeji Port Fureai Festival.

7/17 and 7/24. Gion Matsuri parades in Kyoto. 7/17 is the main event.

7/22- Cerezo Osaka soccer game against the Urawa Reds at Nagai stadium (near Nagai Station) at 7pm.

7/22- Shigaraki Fire Festival. Festival from 7pm.  Fireworks at 9pm.

7/22- Mino Waterfall Candle Road 7p-9p.

7/22-23. 1pm-8pm. Umeda Yukata Matsuri at Grand Front next to Osaka Station. Look for tourism department surveyers who like to give out gifts to foreigners.

7/22-7/23. Motomiya and Yoimiya Festival. Hundreds of candles will decorate the hugely popular Fushi Inari shrine in Kyoto. Ceremoies will be 6pm on the 22nd and 9am on the 23rd.

7/22-7/30. 5:30p-9p. Mitarashi at Shimogamo Shrine. Walk through a stream at this shrine to offer prayer candles. Near Demachiyanagi station in Kyoto.

7/24. 4pm-10pm. 7/25. 12:30-10pm. Daigakku Festival at Tamane Shrine near Tamade train station. In this festival an array of lanterns resembling the mast of a sailboat is paraded around the park near the shrine.

7/24-7/25. Noon-8pm. Gochizan Rengenji Cucumber Purification Ritual. People write their names and ages on a cucumber then rub the cucumber over their bodies and bury it in the ground; this is done to ward off illness.

7/25. 9a-3p. Anraku-ji Temple Shishigatani Pumpkin Service. Cooked pumpkin is served to ward off illness (500 yen for entry and the pumpkin).

7/25. 9a-3p. Shinnyo-do Temple will display the contents of their treasury and serve tea (500 yen for admission and tea).

7/24-25. Wakayama Tenjin Matsuri.

7/25- Tenjin Matsuri. Osaka's largest festival. Parades and fireworks.

7/28. 7pm-?. Tanukidani Fudo-in Temple. Hi-watari fire-walking ritual.

7/29. 10a-9:30p. Amanogawa Tanabata Matsuri. Near Kisaichi station. Light up after 7pm.

7/29. 7:30-8:45p. Himeji Port fireworks.

7/29. 7:40pm. Kishiwada Port Festival Fireworks.

7/29-30. Kokawa Matsuri

7/30-8/1. Sumiyoshi Matsuri. August first there will be a parade in which the portable shrine is carried to the river for special cleansing ceremony. The shrine will have a summer festival from July 30th.

July 31. 1-9:30p. Sakai Fish Auction. Main event at 7pm. Check the website at

7/31. 10a-7:30p. Anpara Matsuri. There will be fireworks after 7:30pm. Near Miwa station.

7/31. 9pm. Atago Shrine Sennichi Mairi shrine visit. Prayers for fire protection, with a special fire ceremony at 9pm. Near the Kiyotaki bus stop.

Late July- Birdman Rally. Engineering students attempt to fly their contraptions over Lake Biwa in Hikone. Shuttle bus from Hikone station.

Summer (?)- Tennoji night zoo.

Ukai - Cormorant Fishing. Leashed waterfowl and boats with fiery torches are used to catch river fish in this ancient practice.
7/1-9/23. 7-8pm. Ukai, cormorant fishing at Arashiyama.
7/1-9/30. Ukai on Nakanoshima in Uji. Near Uji station.

7/16-9/14. 9:30-9:45a. Summer Shikayose. Calling in the deer for feeding with French horn music.

8/1- Saitobi: high diving monks jump from a cliff into Lake Biwa.

8/1. 7:30pm. Hikone and Kita-Biwako Fireworks Festival. Near Hikone Station.

8/5-8/14. Nara Tokae. Candle event in Nara.

8/6-7. World Cosplay Summit in Nagoya near Sakae station and Osu Kanon.

The Pokemon anniversary is coming up, so I anticipate some sort of bonus event. So save your silver eggs; maybe you can get 4x experience!

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Yuri Matsuri

Yuri Matsuri

The Lily Festival at Nara's Isagawa Shrine

Nara City is now a sleepy tourist town known for a giant Buddha statue and free roaming deer. In the 8th century it was one of the early capitals for the emperors of Japan.

 In the 701 (during the reign of the 42nd emperor, Nonmu) an epidemic broke out around the capital. Princess Isuzu introduced a ritual in which an offering of lilies were offered to the gods and paraded through the streets. After this the plague was quelled and the ceremony disappeared into local history.

Later the capital was moved to Kyoto (during the reign of the 50th emperor, Kanmu).
The Lily Festival and the princesses lily processional event, Saikusa no matsuri, reappeared in 1881; in the Meiji era there was a drive to reconstruct ancient imperial rituals after the restoration of the emperor's power.

The festival is held for three days in the beginning of June. The ceremony and parade begin in the afternoon, usually after 1pm, most of the participants gather and eat lunch before starting.

2017: June 16th is the main event but the lily festival consists of several parts over three days.

An ema. Ema are prayer plates that are sold at shinto shrines.
They all have unique decorations that reflect the local shrine.
The ema at Isagawa Shrine show princess Isuzu with lilies and a procession of maidens.
This plate also shows emperor Nonmu; note the ancient styles of clothing in 701.
Their hands with the sun shades on their back remind me of the Ninja Turtles. XD
Before the parade, they kids fidget their way their through a Shinto ceremony.
This little boy had his arm in a sling, but his mother matched it to his costume very well.
Ema plate at Isagawa Shrine.
 This is an image of the Saikusa Matsuri which is held in the middle of three days of ceremonies.
The older veterans who help mange the costumes for young women in the parade.
Note their matching obi 
Priests place offerings in front of the shrine: fruit, fish (tai/sea bream), rice, sake and vegetables.
Event participants (two children in this photo)
There is also a small display of lilies in front of the shrine.
Children amuse themselves while the shinto ceremonies take place.
The parade features a float carrying a bouquet of lilies.
Young women wear veils and dress in honor of princess Isuzu.
They are accompanied by male attendants carrying parasols.
The first stop in the parade is at Kintetsu Nara Station.
Parade organizers refresh the participants.
Also, this is the first chance for the public to receive the special charms of the event; fake lilies with paper amulets.
There was a noisy rush when these charms were first given out.
Waiting until the end of the parade, I found that there were plenty of left over charms that the staff members were trying to give away.
The fountain in the background has a bronze statue of Gyoki-bosatsu.
A monk from the Nara period, born shortly after the time in which this ceremony originates.
The second stop in the parade is at the end of the shopping street.
Note the traditional buildings in the background.
There is also a small crafts museum near this point.
These children are pulling the lily float.
The parade goes up and down some hills, so there was a also a stout man making sure the float did not roll onto the kids.
Photos after the parade.
I like the Jack Nicholson expression on the face of the priest with the more subdued faces of the kids around him.
There are still some shrines with these signs warning people to people careful while playing Pokemon Go.

The mysterious masked matsuri man made another appearance.

The map below shows the parade route, which goes through the main shopping arcade of Nara.


Sunday, June 11, 2017

Candle Night: Summer 2017

Candle Night: Summer 2017

The Candle Night is an event held near Osaka Station two a year; at the beginning of June and December. The summer event draws larger crowds and is much better known.

The event is a collaborative effort of coordinators and numerous artists. Each exhibitor has a small section of sidewalk to work with and they create artistic displays with candles. Each exhibit has a unique theme.

Most of the exhibitors use the same candles and mason jars for their exhibits and add original  set pieces to create impressive practical effects; mostly with low budget materials such as foam board, cellophane and pine.

Some of the exhibitions invite visitors to participate by providing markers to write messages on glass jars which are back-lit by candles, or draw pictures on paper lanterns. These participation exhibits usually ask for a fee to provide the materials but the open air event itself is free to enjoy.

The exhibitors set up their displays on the sidewalks outside the south-west side of Osaka station in the Nishi-Umeda area. The city shuts off the street lights along this stretch of sidewalk so that the candle exhibits have more impact. However, the event only lasts two hours, so you will need to present from the start to see all of the displays especially if you are taking photos, participating in displays that call for public participation or visiting displays that require you to queue up in order to properly enjoy them, as the exhibitions are promptly removed at the designated finish time.

In total the event displays about 20,000 candles for about 30 artists/groups; so most exhibitors will be working with less than 100 candles.

There is were also preliminary events for the event including musicians, stand-up performers and a smaller candle light event near Hankyu Umeda.

The bulk of the candles used in the event are a uniform type of mason candle.
This display has a treetop village feel.
The various matsuri figures are arranged in a bon dance around a festival platform.
The paper umbrella, paper lantern and bamboo decorations give this display a classic Japanese look.
The far end of the course is the biggest attraction with musical performers and a huge number of candles and custom candle makers.
Colored glass emits a pleasant aura.
The colored candles in this shot are reflected around the corner of a glass storefront adding a sense of  symmetry and illusion.
This display had an aquatic them with whales "floating" above the candles.
This series of silhouettes shows the story of Tanabata; with the two lovers being separated by the Milky Way. 
This series of silhouettes shows the story of Momotaro.


Thursday, June 1, 2017

Upcoming events: June 2017

5/10-7/9, 10a-5p (closed Mondays): Ryouma and Shinsengumi at the Ryouzen
History Museum near Tofukuji station in Kyoto.

6/1, 6pm-10pm: 1 million candle nights. Around Osaka station artists will create displays of candles.

6/2-6/11: Shin Umeda City Firefly Forest

6/3, 11a-5:30p: Nagahama Castle Town festival

6/4. 12:30p-2p: Yabusame at Omi Shrine near JR OtsuKyo station.

6/4, 10a-4pm: Azuchi Nobunaga Matsuri. There will be a parade pf people in period costumes. 10 minute shuttle bus from Azuchi station.

6/4, 11a: Release of fish into the Shirakawa river in Gion by maiko and geisha.

6/7, 8-10pm: 1,000,000 candle night (main event) near Osaka station.

6/10, 6-9p: 600 fireflies released into the forest at Shimogamo shrine in Kyoto. Near Demachiganagi station.

6/10-6/11, 10a-5p: Brickfest. A Lego event in Kobe near Marine Park station.

6/11, 2:30p~4p?: Tennojimura-yose English Rakugo. Rakugo is a Japanese style of comedic story telling.

6/11, 10a-4p: Akashi Park. Dance performances and a samurai parade.

6/14, 1p-3p: Otau shinji- rice planting ceremony and traditional performances at Sumiyoshi shrine in Osaka.

6/14, 2p-9p: Nishimomiya Okoshiya Matsuri

6/17, 10:3-?: Yuri Matsuri, Isagawa shrine near Nara Station.

6/18, 10:30-4:30p: Minpaku Music Day at the Banpakku Ethnology Museum.

6/18- Takaishi Seaside Festival. There will be stage shows during the day and fireworks after sunset at Hamadera Park (Hamadera station).
6/21- Chikko candle night. Near Osakako station

6/22-6/24, 4:30-9:30p: Himeji yukata matsuri

6/24, 6:30p: Kansai Scene party in Shinsaibashi

6/30-7/2: Aizen matsuri. Near Shitennoji-mae Yuhigaoka station.

6/30-7/2, 10a-5p: Kyoto Antique Fair at Pulse Plaza.