Thursday, August 30, 2018

Hozanji Candle Night


Every year around September 23rd there is a candle event at Hozanji Temple, on the mountainside in Ikoma (Nara, near the border with Osaka).

These candle light events are a common feature of Buddhist Temples (most notably Todaiji Temple in Nara or Shitennoji Temple in Osaka). These events spead thousands of candles around the area neighboring the temples. The term "mantou kai" or "10,000 candle meet" is applied here, but most of the other events are in August and are connected with the Obon holidays, this event is a month and is a good chance for visitors to such an event if they are visiting at a later time.

This event is one of the most spectacular mantou events as it extends outside of the temple and the community on the mountainside participates; with thousands of lanterns lighting the long staircases as well as the entrances of shops and houses.

The temple itself host stage performances with dancers, street performers, singers, musicians and traditional taiko drummers.

Below is a photo journal from the night of the Hozanji Mantou from September 22, 2016

A landing on the stairs. There is a cafe/candleshop here that  presents a large display of artisanal candles. 

Volunteers cover the wooden lantern from with various designs.
This is some fan art for the Korean Pop group Big Bang.

Lanterns decorating a local shopping street near Hozanji Station which is halfway up the ascent of Mt. Ikoma.

A large collection of candles.

Lanterns all over the steps leading to Hozanji Temple.

Lanterns covered with simple words and characters; probably made by children.

Death Metal rainbow pony

Cute laughing jizo statues

A Pokemon design with Eevee and Mew

A cute Japanese version of Thumbilina (?) sitting on a sunflower.

Pikachu. This lantern acutally has the label of  "Hozanji Manoukai"

A dancer whirling an LED bation.

A time exposure to display more of the LED baton; but the lapsed exposure obscures the human figure.

The dancer happened to holding a more stable pose here so she looks less obscured.

Fire twirling. The flames cast enough light on the dancer for better photos.

Preparing a flaming hula hoop.

Stage performers using flaming hula hoops.

Dancers using fire and LEDs.

The taiko group performing at the temple invited visitors to come and try the drums.
There was a group of deaf people who were performing on the drum; sensing vibrations to synchronize their music.

The smoke, mist and lights at the temple create an otherworldly atmosphere.

A large lantern at the temple. You can see a mountainside cliff which is lit to display at large statue.

A Shinto Shrine. Note the bark chip roof.

You can see candles arranged around the shrine.

Candles lighting some jizo statues.

A dim staircase with jizo statues.

A closer look at an altar of jizo statues. Note the typical red bibs which are often placed on jizo statues.

A torii gate and some stone lanterns.

Stone lanterns with the lights of Ikoma in the distance.

Paper lanterns and stone lanterns all alight. 


Sunday, August 26, 2018

Tempyo Tanabata 2018


In late August Heijokyo Palace in Nara holds a special tanabata event. Rather than being held  on July 7th (like most tanabata events) or August 7th (like some places, such as Kyoto) the Nara event is held during the last weekend of August. This tanabata festival thematically follows the romantic origin story of the tanabata myth using the palace setting to take advantage of the early Japanese court culture aesthetic. 

This event always features artist light displays and a sunset parade of people in LED embedded ancient-era costumes.

Usually the festival is held in front of the Heijokyo Palace but due to construction around the inner courtyard of the Palace the festival was held in front of the Suzaku-mon (south gate).

The following photo journal was recorded on August 25th, 2018.

This year hot air balloon rides were being offered; 1000 yen for adults and 500 yen for kids.
The flame of the balloon creates a colorful display of backlit fabric in the dark countryside.

The hot air balloon making a brief flight while tethered.

Candles in front of the Suzaku gate.

Using a snow cross filter for the sparkle-effect.

Suzaku, the phoenix is the mythical protector of the southern direction (which faces the most sunlight).

Suzaku-mon gate.

A dance performance representing the mythical battle between Susuno'o and the serpent Orochi.

Orochi with glowing eyes.

Susanoo fighting Orochi in an Iwami Kagura performance.
This is a popular display of the Iwami Kagura style artform and was also displayed last month for Gion Matsuri in Kyoto.

A large butterfly-like display of lights and mirrors.

Lights and mirror balls.

Colorful glass(-like) displays.

An artistic display with the Suzakumon gate in the background.

Colorful crystal displays.

Dancers in a "splash illumination" show.

Colorful lights being projected through a veil of mist.

The skull seems like something from a death-metal show.

Dancers on the stage for the splash illumination.

Dancers wearing large dramatic bird-ponchos.

A rock guitarist takes to the stage.

Valves on the stage fire jets of flamming propane(?).

A dramatic pose, the guitarist looks like an Avatar-style firebender.

Jet flames with a replica of an ancient period ship in the background.

Jets of flames.