Sunday, July 30, 2017

Kisaichi Amanogawa Tanabata

Kisaichi Star Festival

While most places hold Tanabata on July 7th, the are other places that hold the festival around August 7th (such as Kyoto's "Kyo no Tanabata" event).

Kisaichi is small town at the end of the Katano line near Hirakata. The botanical garden in Kisaichi is the location for the "Amanogawa Hoshi Matsuri" which could be translated to "River of Heaven [Milky Way] Star Festival."

The festival is filled with community made artwork and crafts. You can see the volunteers (most of them are elderly) working hard to prepare the lights.

Pinwheels made of bamboo and origami paper.
A large lantern with beatiful painted figures of tanuki (raccoons) as it is being prepared to be set atop pipes that work as temporary lantern posts.
Paper lanterns, paper cranes and paper chains.
This group of paper lanterns has a theme of "Japan's Four Seasons."
Orihime, the weaver maiden. "Star" of the Tanabata story.
A local mascot (yuru-kyara). Some sort of dinosaur???
A bridge transformed into a tanabata tunnel.
Awa Odori decoration on this lantern. Most of the lanterns have their own unique designs.
A black dragonfly in the botanical garden.
Lotus blossoms?
Tanabata decorations and women wearing yukata mean summer in Japan.
I like how the bowed bamboo, the widest point of bridge railing and the sightline of the guard draw attention to the little girl looking upward.


A large paper screen depicting Orihime that will be backlit at night.
A type of pinwhell made by cutting aluminum cans.


Smartphone screens add effective face lighting in dark environments.
Glass jars help decorate this chain link fence.
Dragonball, Anpanman and Dragonball Z. Simple lanterns; a glass jar, wrapped with paper that has artwork, hanging by twisted wires.
Tanabata decorations, lanterns and candles. The staircase in the background has candles spelling out "Amanogawa Tanabata Matsuri."
Real bamboo that is artistically cut and drilled.
Silhouette art showing Orihime and Kitaboshi.
A bamboo teepee with plastic bottles holding water that diffuses the candle light.
A lot of nice paper art.
Illuminated trees cast a nice reflection in a pond at the botanical garden.
The course of the lanterns follows the river bank.
Bamboo arches suspend lanterns over this stream giving the illusion of floating lanterns.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Pokemon Hotspots in Osaka

PokemonGo Getting a Second Wind in Osaka



 The updates to the PokemonGo app update has players excited. This month the revamped gyms, new items and raid battles are finally bringing the game-play that were promised in the pre-release promotional videos from almost two years ago.



 The original promotional video featured trading, which is yet to appear in any version of Pokemon Go.


The new raid battle system ranges from level one to level five. Levels four and five are too much for individual players, avoid them unless there are plenty of other players on the scene (regardless of teams).

Level one raid bosses are common types of pokemon.
The Magikarp that appeared at this raid only had 1165 Combat Points.
Level five raids are the only way to catch legendaries (at this time).
You will need a large group of people as you are fighting against huge numbers in terms of the opponents HP and defenses.
You should look for legendary raids in places that are popular with PokemonGo players.
Once the current excitement over the introduction of legendaries dies down, it will be difficult to muster teams of people sufficient to challenge such powerful Pokemon.
The Lugia in this raid had 42753 CP.

In order to maximize your experience with the game (points, catches, items...), socialize with friends and join high level raids you need to find your local "hot-spots." These places have a high density of poke-stops, gyms and attract players.
Tempozan Park is a popular place for Pokemon places. The number of Pokestops is not huge but it is enough to walk 5 minute circuits. The atmosphere is comfotable and there are plenty of restaurants in the Market.

This video from last year shows the numbers of people who do their Pokemon hunting around Tempozan. A rare pokemon appeared and hundreds of players rush to the site; following an initial group of hardcore players using pokemon mapping apps.


Ogimachi Park, near JR Tenma and Ogimachi station.
There are not a huge number of Pokestops but you can loop around the sports field trying to complete five minute circuits.
The best point of this site is the number of Pokemon players who use this place.
Check out the video below, showing all the players who use Ogimachi Park.

 


I found the real life Bug Catcher Kid!

Nakanoshima Park.
Look at all these Pokestops!
Actually, this map represents a large physical area, but still.
I was able to get about 300,000 XP in this area in a few hours thanks to the one year anniversary bonuses, lucky eggs, PokemonGo Plus and the Tenjin Festival.

Tsurumi-Ryokuchi Park.
Visit this park to check out the international gardens while catching Pokemon.
This park is also popular with cosplayers, so there is plenty here besides Pokemon.



The ancient Shitennoji temple has many historical buildings and, therefore, many pokestops.
However, the monks minding the temple don't want the players to interfere with the prayers. 


PokemonGo is quite the battery hog, especially when using Bluetooth to connect a PokemonGoPlus.

References

https://www.pokemongomap.info/

http://2ponderful.com/2016/10/19/pokemon-nests-greenery-parks-in-osaka/

http://kotaku.com/pokemon-go-player-tries-getting-a-million-xp-in-a-day-1785558446

https://kansaiculture.blogspot.jp/2016/09/pokemon-panic-at-aquarium.html

https://kansaiculture.blogspot.jp/2016/08/pokemon-go-is-prohibited-here.html

Music Videos for Local Pride

Musical PR Videos in Japan

Many locations in Japan are trying to promote tourism, portray themselves positively, share their culture and provide a creative outlet for local people.

In addition to the local mascot characters (yuru-kyata), some local promotion agencies have been releasing music videos to promote cites and prefectures.

The first video here is made by Ryo Inoue, who is an animator living in Nara. This song has a fun animation style and a really catchy song that was performed and produced by Inoue. Another thing that makes this song so appealing is that it is performed in English by Inoue who takes English classes. Basically, the song is about a mascot character who is singing praise of Nara and the seasonal attractions there.


Inoue makes a number of other animations for the Nara PR department and they feature their own catchy songs but "Enjoy Nara" has the broadest appeal.

The group "G-Pop" has recently released some videos to promote the prefecture of Kochi (on Shikoku island, near the Kansai region). This group is made of retired men from the area (aged 65-80). This is an interesting representation of Kochi prefecture as the demographics are rapidly graying with low birth rates and people leaving for large urban areas. Featuring old men in a video seems to be embracing reality for Kochi.
The group was recently written about in The Hiragana Times magazine and their video "I was Young" has been viewed over 600,000 times on YouTube.
The club music, fashionable clothing and comedic scenes (of old men chasing young women) belies the poignant message of the lyrics in the song "I was Young."
In Japanese, the group name is written as "Ji-Pop" (爺ーPop) which is a play on the word "oji-san" (old man) and the musical genres of J-Pop (Japanese pop music) and K-Pop (Korean pop).



The " I Was Young" video features the members of G-Pop singing entirely in English, despite the fact that some of the lyrics are about hownghey don't speak English.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Kendo in the USA (in 2007)

The 202 American dojos in 2007

I was going through some old materials and found a map from 2007 representing the 202 kendo dojos in the United States. This was used in a college paper I wrote about the introduction and diffusion of kendo in the United States.

You can find more up-to-date maps of kendo dojos (Christopher George had a similar Google Map project). However, I want to leave this map up for people who come along later to research the history and diffusion of kendo. A decade later, I hope that this map serves as a time capsule. I expect that kendo still has a lot of room to grow in the future.



Monday, July 24, 2017

Upcoming Events; August 2017

7/8-8/28. 10a-4:30. Sumo and swords exhibit at the Osaka Museum of History. Near Tanimachi-4 chome station.

8/1 and 8/15. After sunset. Himuro shrine ice lanterns. Near Kintetsu Nara station. Shaved ice will be be sold in the shrine office. Kookentou (ice lantern) will be on display at night.. Also on the 15th this month.

8/1. 11AM. Saitobi divers. Monks jump off of a pole from a Lake Biwa cliffside. Near Omi Hachiman station in Shiga prefecture. Isakiji temple.
http://www.isakiji.jp/saotobi.html

7/30-8/1. Sumiyoshi Matsuri. Sumiyoshi Shrine in Osaka.

8/3-5. Odorunya Yosakoi Festival. Near Wakayam station.

8/3-5. Ikuta Summer Sea Festival. Ikuta Shrine. Near Sannomiya station.

8/3-5. Manto Festival. Lanterns decorate the shrine at Taga Shrine. Near Tagataisha-mae station.
8/5-8/14. Nara Tokae. A huge outdoor lantern event in Nara Park. Organizers are often in search of volunteers to help with this event.

Kyo no Tanabata 8/4-16
http://www.kyotoside.jp/entry/20170724

  • 8/4-13. 梅小路 park ligh up.
  • 8/5-6. 7-9:30p. Kamogawa river light art.
  • 8/5-11. 7-9:30p. Horikawa, canal side lights and art.
  • 8/5-16. Until 9pm. Kitano Tenmangu. Shrine light up. The garden is especially nice
  • 8/11-13. 7p-9p. Okazaki Park and Heian Shrine light up, food fair and music offerings.


8/7. 7a-9:30a. Cleaning of the great Buddha Statue at Todaiji temple in Nara.

8/4-6. World Cosplay Summit in Nagoya. Parade. Near Osu Kanon on the first day. Around Sakae station and Oasis 21 on the second day.

8/8. Lake Biwa Great Fireworks Show. 7:30-8:30p.

8/10-11. Hozenji Yokocho. Near Namba station. Festival starts with the cracking of a sake barreel. There are bunrakku puppets. Jazz music.

8/12-13. Kobe Port Festival at the Sumiyoshi Park grounds. Near Sumiyoshi station (Hyogo Prefecture).

8/19-20. Kobe aeaside bon odori. Near Motomachi Station.

8/13. 6-8p. Sky lanterns. Uji Park, Kyoto Prefecture.

8/15. 7p-10p. Mantoukuyou-e. 2,500 lanterns will illuminate Todaiji temple. Near Kintetsu Near ara station.
8/15. After sunset. Kasuha Shrine Daimonji hillside bonfire. Near Kintetsu Nara station.

8/15-16. Dekansho Obon Dance Festival at the Sasayama Castle Ruins. 3p-9p. Near Sasayamaguchi station.

8/16. Gozan Okuribi- Five Mountain bonfire for Obon in Kyoto.

8/16. Around sunset. Floating obon candles. Near Arashiyama station.

August, around obon. Dainenbutsuji temple will have a an obon ceremony with many candles. Near Hirano station.

8/18. 太閤祭. Martial Arts ritual at a shrine desicated to Toyoti Hideyoshi at Osaka Castle.

8/21 (?). Inagawa firework festival. 20 minute walk from Ikeda station.

8/22-26. Minatogawa Shrine Summer Festival. Near JR Kobe station.

8/24-25. Kita Mido bon dance. Near Honmachi station.

Around 8/22. manto kuyo cadles for stone Buddhas. Injoji temple near Notogawa station in Shiga prefecture.

8/23-24. Jizo Bon at Isshin ji. Kids events and a marionette play. 4pm near Shitennoji-mar Yuhigaoka station.

8/24. Around sunset. Gangara Fire Festival. Near Ikeda station.

8/27. 6:30p. AtagonFire Frstival near JR Toyooka station.

8/24(?). Sportsland Ikoma. Kids moto mini bike race.
8/25-27. 4p-9p. Tenpyo Tanabata at Heijo Kyo. Near Yamato Saidaiji station.

8/26-27. Beef Contest. Biwako Hotel near Hamaotsu station.

8/27-28(?). Asuka Hikari no Kairo (corridor of light. Between Oka station and Ishibutai Kofun.

Last Sunday in August. Kids sumo tournament at Uenomiya shrine near Matsuo Taisha station.
first weekend in August. Grand Yokkaichi Festival. Near Yokkaichi station in Mie prefecture.

first Sunday in August. Ishitori festival. The noisiest festival in Japan. Everyone rings bells and bangs drums. Near Kuwana station in Mie.

Around 8/26-27.. Nara Basara.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Stinking Gaijin!; Japan and Body Odor

Summer is here and peak mushi-atsui (humid-heat) season is upon us.
This exacerbates one of the more difficult and socially awkward situations for foreigners; being perceived as “kusai” (stinky, bad-smelling) by Japanese people.


As a traditional monoculture, Japan is very keen to play up the “otherness” of foreigners. Since medieval era sailors visited Japan, there have been many references to the different smell of westerners in history and pop-culture. Notoriously, however, 16th century seamen were not the best ambassadors of fragrance. You see this “unwashed foreigner” trope in many western made movies about old Japan; such as Shogun (a 1975 novel turned 1980 TV series) and The Last Samurai (Tom Cruise film from 2003).
The post-WWII occupation culture popularized the “batta-kusai” image of foreigners, leading Japanese to prejudge westerners as “stinking of butter.” Beef seems to be another dietary staple that Japanese people credit for the foreign stink.


Confrontations about body odor can be particularly frictious. In workplaces it is normal to approach a manager a with complaints about coworkers, rather than confronting them directly.
I have heard numerous stories about foreign English teachers being coached-up in regards to their smell.
Children tend to be unencumbered by social mores and unfiltered in their speech, so they are quick to say if someone is “kusai” or “stinky,” many foreign English teachers will be working with children in this age group.
Another common situation is the covert way that some Japanese people on the train will get up and stand elsewhere if a foreigner sits next to them on the train; this is a subtle and mysterious gesture which may represent other factors or prejudices.



Wakiga and Genetics

Wakiga (腋臭) is the Japanese term for “body odor” in general and, in particular, refers to a strong or abnormal underarm odor.
Japanese people tend to sweat less and have a weak body odor. There is some quantifiable science behind this statement. The skin contains two types of sweat glands; the eccrine glands (that secrete through pores) and apocrine glands (which secrete through the hair follicles and hair). The apocrine gland secretions are more apt to provide a base for stinky bacteria.

However there is a difference between the balance of eccrine and apocrine glands which is based on genetics. Different racial groups have different genetic dispositions in this regard which are genetically related to the A allele (eccrine type) or G allele (apocrine). African-Americans have the highest rate of G alleles at nearly 100% (surprisingly, Africans have a slightly lower rate), while Koreans have the lowest rate at about 0%. And Japanese people have a low rate of G alleles (about 20%) and Europeans have a high rate (about 80%).
Another characteristic of the G allele is damp, soft earwax while A allele people have dry and flaky earwax.
Apocrine glands have also been associated with pheromones in some studies. The glands themselves become active after puberty and sweat is often linked to sex hormones.

The Smell of Culture?

Of course there are lifestyle factors that affect your personal odor; diet (which affects your body chemistry as well as the food odors that cling to hair and clothes while influencing breath odor) bathing (showering is not as good at removing fatty lipids the are secreted with sweat), fragrances (perfume/cologne, deodorant, laundry detergent, soap…). Your culture may affect your sensitivity to odors; some things you will ignore because of a cultural acclimation and other things will strike you as foreign or novel.
Walking through the Korea Town section of Osaka (especially under Tsuruhashi station) visitors may find it hard to breathe with the overwhelming smell of kimchi saturating the atmosphere. Japanese people are aware of how rare it is for foreigners to tolerate the smell of natto and they seem to delight in watching the over reaction of foreigners gagging on those stinky, sticky fermented soy beans. Specifically, I am not sure what smell characterizes “gaijin no nioi” (the smell of foreigners) to Japanese people, and they will rarely articulate anything more specific than simply “kusai!” (stinky!).


Dealing with “gaijin-no-nioi” in Japan
Japanese drug store carry their own brands of deodorants. They are generally lightly scented, depend on alcohol for cleaning and make heavy use of menthol for a sense of cool in the summer. American made deodorants (heavily scented with anti-perspirants) are not available in stores, therefore they are a common request for the contents of care packages sent from relatives back home.
The most popular deodorants are the Nivea 8x4 (eight-four) roll-on sticks and the Biore body sheets (both made by the Kao company) are sold in drug stores and convenience stores. Baby powder is useful but relatively difficult to find in Japan (limited quantities, few stores and high prices and sold in inconvenient tubs rather than bottles with an applicator).
At most workplaces you will have your own desk or locker. You can use this space to keep deodorant sticks and/or wipes as well as a change of clothes. I recommend keeping a complete set of fresh, work appropriate closes (button up or polo shirts and khakis in my schools); this includes socks and underwear as an entire set of clothes can get drenched while commuting in the rain, even if you are using an umbrella and simply walking from the nearest station.
People in Japan are apparently concerned about triggering socially awkward situations. Given the passive nature of Japanese society (especially in the workplace), you may not know about your own smell until the situation has snowballed. This has led to recent examples of invention and marketing; similar to the way that the fear of halitosis was invented by Listerine by acknowledging to politeness and passivity of formal social situations. The Konika company (based in Japan) has created a device called the "Kunkun Body" which is designed to detect unpleasant odors and warn the user through a connected smart phone app (but the device costs about 30,000 yen). Interestingly, the device is supposed to be able to detect three types of scents: sweat, "middle-fat" and "kareishuu" ( 加齢臭 old person smell).




Warning; lengthy anecdote ahead!
A foreigner once worked in an international pre-school; a building that cares for children under the age of 6 (many of whom were in diapers), in an English speaking environment, with a mix of education and childcare. International schools are staffed with foreigners as language specialists, Japanese staff members, managers and  (this is important) a certified child care employee. The person with the child care certificate is required by regulations for this business to operate, so they are the most important and most difficult person on staff to replace.
The foreigner often found the certified person to be heavy-handed with the children and with odd “aggro” anti-social personality, so she was never really pleased with anyone while male employees seemed especially wary of her. She would often complain about the body odor of men working there; to the manager, other employees and the children but not directly.
The business owner/manager acted as an intermediary for complaints; the apparently offers precursory complaints and the manager arranges formal meeting with the other person (would you call them the “defendant”? The “offender”?). One meeting went like this:
Manager: “[so-and-so] sensei has been complaining. She says that you smell bad. I tried to smell you. I don’t see the problem. But I am old [about 67], so I can not smell things well. But young ladies, you know...
Do you… take a shower?”
Foreigner: “Yes, I take showers twice a day.”
Manager: Hmm, do you use … soap?
Foreigner: Soap, shampoo, deodorant…
Manager: Ah, maybe that is it! Japanese people don’t like strong perfume.
Foreigner: OK [not knowing if the co-worker complained about a sweat smell, perfume smell or general “kusai”]
Manager:  Please, wash your work clothes everyday.


After work, at home-
Foreigner: My coworker said I stink, please come here and smell me. Do I smell bad.
Male Japanese sharehouse-mate: No. I don’t smell anything.


Between the first meeting and the second a child [4 years old] approached and said
“[so-and-so] sensei said you are ‘stinky.’”
Foreigner: “Am I stinky now?”
[student shrugs his shoulders], apparently he was not offended by any smell.


Within the week the manager called in the foreigner again.
Manager: Please try to get along with [so-and-so].
Foreigner: ?
Manager: She still says that you smell bad. She complains all the time.
Foreigner: Is it because I sweat a lot? It is summer and we are really active with the kids. Maybe I need another uniform shirt so I can change at lunch.
Manager: Why do you sweat so much? Are you doing some sports before school?
Foreigner: Sometimes, I do kendo AT NIGHT, after school.
Manager: Ah, kendo stuff is stinky, right? You should stop doing kendo…?
Foreigner: [*frowns to suggest that a line is being crossed]
Manager: Do you live with other foreigners?
Foreigner: Yes, I live in a sharehouse, half of the people are foreigners.
Manager: Do you share a washing machine?
Foreigner: Yes.
Manager: Ahh. Do you clean inside the washing machine?
Foreigner: [Is that a thing that people do, somehow?] Uhmm...no…?
Manager: You should go to a coin laundromat to wash your uniform.
Manager: [so-and-so] apologized to the parents [about an incident in which she hurt some kids]. Don’t be angry. Let’s be friends.

The foreigner gave notice that he was quitting soon afterwards. The manager called the immigration office, spoke to an immigration officer. The immigration officer met the foreigner at the immigration office, punched a hole in his gaijin card and simply said “you must leave Japan.” The foreigner briefly went to Korea, came back to a new job and changed his visa.



References
http://www.all-nationz.com/archives/1006257497.html

http://e11gaijin.deo5.info/

http://xn--n8jpc1cu41a379xco9bznm.com/?p=100

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2822672/Women-really-better-sense-smell-men-Study-finds-female-brain-50-olfactory-cells.html

https://www.google.co.jp/amp/s/amp.reddit.com/r/japanlife/comments/3du40g/smelly_gaijin_and_question_about_sweating_in/

https://forum.gaijinpot.com/forum/living-in-japan/health-fitness/14491-do-non-japanese-stink

http://www.gaijingamers.com/archive/index.php/t-7510.html

https://www.cnet.com/news/kunkun-body-app-tells-you-if-you-smell-bad/?ftag=COS-05-10-aaa0a&linkId=39736395

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apocrine_sweat_gland

https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/pheromones-sex-lives/

http://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/marketing-campaign-invented-halitosis-180954082/

http://jisho.org/search/%E5%8A%A0%E9%BD%A2%E8%87%AD

Thursday, July 20, 2017

State of the Blog Address

Reader Milestones

The Kansai Culture Blog recently received the 10,000th pageview.
The has been a noticeable uptick in page traffic this month.
One post in particular received over one thousand views.
This has overwhelmingly been due to social media and IRL (in real life) friends.
Thanks guys.


Upcoming Projects

  • Kendo
I am preparing some minor thematic kendo posts as well as ongoing kendo notes in the form of public journal.
  • Photo journals
I have been going through the backlog of photo albums to present a number of pieces on specific festivals (including one outside of Kansai).

  • Language Materials
I have a number of English lesson materials which I plan to share in the near future. I hope to open these lessons up for public development.

Expect to see a number of new festivals added to the Kansai Culture Festival Map (a link to which is found at the bottom of the blog layout).


  • Summer Events
Summer break is coming up. English teachers like me will have a lot of free time. This means a good chance for photographing far afield, attending a lot of events, writing a lot of material and connecting with other people in the area.

  • New Contacts
A lot of new people have been connecting with me on Twitter. Hopefully we will be able to arrange a meeting this year.
The cosplay community has been active while making great use of Instagram. I anticipate seeing a lot of creative people in Nagoya. 
As always, I am looking forward to doing kendo with lots of people in the Kansai area and would appreciate any invitations.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Wheel of Feelings; English and Japanese

The Bilingual Wheel of Feelings
Click for an enlarged version.

I am preparing a project for an English lesson. This chart displays English vocabulary words for feelings matched with a Japanese translation in hiragana.

One Wheel; Three Rings

The inner ring represents 6 basic emotions. Language beginners can focus on learning these first. These are the emotions that are built into human intuition. You can automatically read these emotions on your partner's face. This ring can be taught to children.

The middle ring is more nuanced. It is difficult to teach these feelings with facial expressions but they can usually be shown in an image. There are a few words here that I teach to children through flashcards as they are popular and useful in classroom settings: excited, proud, confused, interested, bored, lonely).
Each item on the second ring splits into two sub-feelings for the outer ring. The outer ring is the most nuanced, so it is good for teaching adults who have more life experience and are likely to be interested in talking about their personal lives or exploring more diverse topics or practice activities.

Teaching Activities
As it is, the wheel is a useful reference.
If you already have textbook materials that focus on feelings or reactions this could be a useful supplement to hand out.
In the future I want to develop worksheets that present short paragraphs about emotional situations and let students write in their own emotional reaction to that situation.

I tried to arrange the wheel so that opposite sides had appropriately opposed emotions; but that was difficult to work out with so many words in play. Some things are relatively easy to associate with an opposite feelings (loving/hateful, proud/ashamed, excited/bored). Other things were much more difficult to balance out as they can be subjective (is sadness or anger the opposite of happiness?).

At a later time I may release a duplicate copy of this wheel which contributors could edit so that we all have something better to work with. Perhaps as a Google Drive Drawing?


References

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Tanabata Tunnel at Shitennoji Temple

Shitennoji Tanabata


Tanabata, the annual star festival held on 7/7, is the cause for many festivals in Japan. Unfortunately most of them only happen between 7-10pm on the same day so it is hard choose which you will enjoy.

Tennoji Temple (the oldest state sponsored temple, built in 593) hosts a three night Tanabata event in which decorations are strung up, vendors set up stalls on the temple grounds and an illuminated tunnel is set up in the temple courtyard.

Visitors can write their wishes on paper strips (tanzaku) provided by the event volunteers who have a tent nearby.

The event runs from 7/6-7/8. The LED lights are turned off around midnight.

The display had very small crowds on Thursday night. Great for taking clear night exposures.
Tanabata is a great time to see people posing in their yukata.
In addition to the wish papers (tanzaku) another tanabata decoration are the "fukinagashi" streamers.
This fukinagashi has the kanji for Tanabata which written as a combination of the words "seven-night" (July 7th).
This year, there is a full moon complimenting the star festival.
You can see Abeno Harukasu (Japan's tallest building *non-tower).
Note that the wishes are hung on bamboo branches. For this reason you will see a lot of bamboo displays standing in store fronts and lobbies.

Popular place for photographers. They can set up tripods and take their time.

Nio Renovations at Shitennoji


A popular feature of Buddhist architecture in Japan, especially at large temples like Shitennoji, are the Nio guardians. These are the defenders of Buddha and Japanese culture has many folklore tales about them.

The Nio guardians at Shitennoji have recently been repainted and restored. So you can now see them in their brilliant new colors. Night time is a great opportunity to appreciate them as they are lit up.

Nio Guardians standing in place beside the gate.
Stone lantern in the foreground and a five-story pagoda (gojunoto) in the background.
Ungyou. This guardian always has his mouth closed (as if making the 'oon' sound).
He is painted blue and holds a staff. 
Angyou. This guardian always has his mouth open (as if making the 'a' sound).
He is painted red and holds a vajra- which symbolizes indestructibility of diamonds and irresistible power of lightning.