Thursday, May 30, 2019

Infiorata 2019

Kobe Infiorata 2019

The Infiorata is an annual street art event in Kobe which is modeled after a similar event in Italy, in which flower petals are used to make large elaborate street mosaics.

This year the temporary artwork was displayed in the Motomachi/Nankinmachi ChinaTown area earlier in April then there was a larger display with a brass band and various performers on Kitanozaka street on April 27th.

The theme of the artwork this year was the various attractions in the Kobe area;

  1. Akashi-Kaikyo Bridge
  2. The upcoming Rugby World Cup matches (some of which will be in Osaka)
  3. The Suma Aquarium
  4. Shin-Nagata and the giant robot statue there.
  5. Kobe Kitano (the old foreign settlement area)
  6. Kobe Port
  7. Oji Zoo
  8. and more...

This event was also covered back in 2016.

Photo journal from 4/27/2019:

The Akashi-Kaikyo Bridge.
Shot with a Victure wide-angle action camera.
The top marks the chaning era; Heisei to Reiwa

Rugby World Cup 2019
Host City Kobe

A small putting courese that feels very appropriate for the temporary sod that is covering the street.

Some of the Jazz Street decorations around Kitano.

Festive and unsually artistic lanterns overlooking Kitanozaka (the Kitano slope).

The Viseel soccer team's Ox mascot with a dance group that was performing at the event opening.

As a group of kids lay the final petals onto a mosaic, a brass band plays pop music.
This mosaic features the Japanese pro-baseball player, Yu Darvish.
The top has a current tourism slogan "Be Kobe."

Banners depicting the image that is conveyed by the floral mosaics.

A guide to the designs and artists in this year's Infiorata.

The moutaintop view of Kobe.

Arima onsen, a popular hotspring with a geisha in the background.

Shin-Nagata, a nearby train station that has a huge robot statue based on the Tetsujin character from an old manga.

Kobe Kitano.
The rooster weather vane on the Kazamidori House is a famous local landmark. The Kamamidori House is now a museum.

Cute characters?

 Yu Darvish


Arima Onsen geisha.

Oji Zoo


Alexander Cameron Sim of Kobe

Alexander Cameron Sim

Alexander Cameron Sim was a Scottish physician who came to Japan in the Meiji period.
He settled in Kobe and became involved in the carbonated soft drink industry. In the late 20th century carbonated soft-drink were often marketed as some sort of new-age medicine and that seems to be the case Cameron's drinks. The health factor of bottle soft-drinks was touted during a cholera outbreak when salesmen claimed that you could not get cholera from carbonated drinks.

A unique feature of the drinks that Cameron's company sold were the marble seals in the glass bottles. This feature can be seen today in the drink that descended from Cameron's idea; Ramune.

Originally, the drink was a type of lemonade, and the term "ramune" is derived from the word "lemonade."
Ramune is still a popular drink, though the line of drinks does not include lemonade or any lemon flavors, oddly. The Ramune drinks are a big hit at Japanese culture festivals in America thanks to the novel design of their bottles.

Alexander Cameron Sim is buried in a foreigner cemetery but there is a large stone obelisk standing as a memorial to him in Higashi Yuenchi:

There is a memorial to him in Higashi Yuenchi ("Kobe East Park" the site where the Kobe Luminarie is held each year). There memorial stone is an obelisk with the inscriptions:
Nagasaki was an early enclave for foreign traders while Kobe and Yokohama were major entry points the sites of major foreign settlements in the Meiji period when Japan began to open up to the outside world, so it is interesting to see how the expat communities networked together to erect this monument.
Alexander Cameron Sim is buried in the foreign municipal cemetery, which is park of Futuba Park on Mt. Rokko. This cemetery is the burial/memorial site for a number of early foreign settlers as well as foreign sailors lost at sea. The cemetery is also the burial place for the French sailors who were killed in the Sakai Incident of 1868. However the cemetery is private and only available for 90-minute tours on the last Sunday of the month for the months of April to September (as snow and weather tend to make Mt. Rokko hazardous in the off-season).

If you travel to the Kitano area, north of Sannomiya station, you can see the foreign settlement area where many historic buildings stand today. These buildings were built by the foreign settlers and often have an interesting mix of foreign and local architecture and design, making the area a popular tourist attraction in Kobe.

Cameron is remembered in Kobe as the founder of the Kobe Regatta and Athletic Club and his story is featured in the city's English language history page which highlights local products, historical figures and some of the pioneering points of Kobe (such as the first golf course in Japan).
The various sports clubs in Japan that popped up in the foreign port settlement areas served as a springboard for introducing various international sports to Japan (such as tennis, baseball, rugby, football and rowing).
The port city expat communities had their own rivalries, with Kobe rowers taking steamboats to Yokohama for rowing competitions.

Near this monument to Alexander Cameron Sim in Higashi Yuenchi Park there is another stone monument which marks the site of the first bowling game in Japan.



Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Kobe Matsuri 2019

Kobe Matsuri 2019

The Kobe Matsuri parade of 2019 featured about 70 groups. While the Samba teams and the Jedi Order have already been covered in dedicated posts, here are some of the highlights of photos for other types of performers in the festival...

Photo journal from 5/19/2019:

Someone wearing a samba costume and holding a type of fan that is more typical to a belly dance group.

A group of dancers. It is not clear if they are part of a larger group that also includes samba dancers.

Some of the younger girls from a dance studio.

An artistic display at Higashi Yuenchi (Kobe East Park).

A part color red shot of a dance group.

Bronze metalwork on a fountain at Higashi Yuenchi.

Some preschool teachers present a story about the Three Little Pigs using laminated marionettes on a whiteboard.

Awaodori dancers.

Awaodori dancer. Shot with a pop filter.

A member of a belly dance group.

A belly dance club making a final pose holding tamborines with their club logo.

A Hawaiian dancer.

A Kobe City fireman mascot monkey.

Eisa dancer.

High stepping march of the Eisa dancers.

Nice solo pose with an Eisa dancer.

Eisa dancers holding out their drumsticks.

A huge Jazzercise group. This group probably had over 150 members.
They seemed to have only women.

The Port of Kobe float with the Kobe Port Tower mascot.

Maritime theme for the Port of Kobe office.

The Sun TV Studio has a stage set up for a brass band.

A local nursery school uses their bus as mobile advertising with fiberglass elements to make the bus look like a cat.
It remind me of the Ikoma Cable Car.

This group with the homemade style float  is promoting support for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics (and the new Reiwa era).

A marching band. The look like some sort of Australian X-Men member with their hats, flaired shouder shirts, gloves and poses.

A Special Olympics groups and a football team.

A football team.

A crane company. They parade employees (and their families) in colorfully decorated hard hats.
This person's helmet resembles a slime from Dragon Quest.

A group of antique cars.

Eisa dancers

UNICEF group.

A group representing the Korean community by wearing traditional Korean outfits.

A part color yellow shot.

Korean dancers with distinct swinging hats; the sangmo ribbon hat.

A dancer with a sangmo ribbon hat.

Representatives for Elvis Week. An annual event in the area near Kobe Harborland.

A fan in an Elvis costume.

Elvis group passing the Ikuta Shrine gate.
Kobe has a long history with foreigners and was an early foothold for jazz music.
In 2009 an Elvis statue was moved from a defunct shop in Tokyo to the Kobe Harborland Shopping Mall.
Since then there has been an Elvis festival which celebrates Elvis, American culture and the Japanese rockabilly subculture.

Members of the Elvis group riding classic American cars.

Rockabilly members (who are not soyoung) break dancing in the street with the Elvis Week group.

Kobe Taiko group.
I like the Kobe Port Tower art on their float.

Son Wukong, from the story "Journey to the West" a popular piece of Chinese literature.
This character inspired the character of Goku in Dragob Ball.
This is a group representing the Chinese community in Kobe.

People wearing Chinese outfits.

Members of a Chinese culture group.

The mascot of Hyogo prefecture.

Part color blue filter.

Members of a local dance studio in rabbit outfits.
Shot with a pop filter

More bunnies

It seems there is one boy in this dance studio who came to the parade.
He seems to be dressed as a Zootopia bunny police officer.

Members of an inline skating group.

A wedding company advertising their services.

A banner showing off popular date ideas to promote tourism in the Kobe area.
Perhaps this is some sort of campaign to fight population decline?

A masco for the Taiwanese group.

A group showing off Taiwanese (and Chinese?) culture.

The Taiwan group had someone in a police uniform following them with a video camera.
Is this some sort of a security measure.

Mascot for the local Kobe Vissel soccer team.

Mascots for the Kobe Customs department.

Kobe customs mascots.

Kobe Alive group. This is a yosakoi dance group.
 They have a number of members in anime cosplay outfits.

A OnePiece character.

Kobe Alive members in typical yosakoi costumes.

Kids in yosakoi costumes.
Note the traditional naruko clackers.

Awaodori dancers on dedicated dance stage.

An area dedicated to the taiko drummer groups.

Members of the Korean culture group.

Rockabilly dancers in the Elvis Week group.

A dance group presenting a traditional Japanese aesthetic.

(American) Football team
Soccer team
Crane company
Jazzercise group
marching bands
Taiwan (police officers, one police officer with a video camera?)
Kobe Port Customs
Wedding Company
Tokyo Olympics
Roller skating group
baton twirlers
Esa drummers
Yosakoi dancers
Elvis group