Friday, 30 November 2012

T.G.I.F.: Chichibu Night Festival

December 2nd and 3rd is the Chichibu Yomatsuri (Chichibu Night Festival) in Saitama Prefecture. This festival is considered one of the top three mikoshi (float) festival next to Kyoto's Gion Festival and the Takayama Festival. The real treat comes on the 3rd day when the mikoshi, decorated elaborately with Japanese weapons and lanterns, transform into stages where kabuki is performed for onlookers. Click the image below for more details. Happy Friday!

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Travel Log: Kobe

A couple of weekends ago, I struck a course and set out for Kobe. My sensei back in Australia who taught me Japanese hailed from Kobe so I had been curious for years about this "modern city" she described to me. As it turns out, Kobe is a modern city largely due to the Great Hanshin Earthquake of 1995 which destroyed much of the city and forced the citizens to rebuild their home anew with modern, earthquake-resistant structures. Kobe does not hold much excitement for the average foreign tourist in Japan but I was itching to try that famous Kobe Beef and I managed to make a memorable time of my visit. Check out some of my favourite snaps below!

Tops Tuesdays!

It's that time of year when you break out the kotatsu, dust off the kerosene heater, and start thinking about applying bubble-wrap to your windows to help with insulation against Japan's notoriously poorly designed modern architecture. It is still the koyo (autumn leaf) viewing season, however, the days are growing noticeably shorter and colder. Today's Tops Tuesday post is dedicated to the one thing that will enable me to survive the coming months, and (coincidently) from under which I write today's post... that simple yet ingenious Japanese invention... the kotatsu...

Image Source:

Friday, 23 November 2012

T.G.I.F.: Thanks Giving

Happy Turkey Day! Even though Thanks Giving is not a celebrated holiday in Australia, or indeed Japan, you can still join in the festivities in Roppongi, Tokyo at the International Friendship Thanks-Giving Party tonight,  23rd November from  7pm (click the image below for more details). Enjoy your long weekend!

Image source:

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Tops Tuesdays!

I found this on Pinterest and think it would make an awesome addition for any anime fan's iPhone. This app tells you the time in a very NERV from the anime Evangelion: Neon Genesis layout. Full story here.

Evangelion vol.2 Clock iPhone app

On a side note, I was MIA last week due to a large 2-day ALT conference being held in Shizuoka for which my attendance was compulsory and the preparation for which took up the rest of my time. Normal posting will resume from now on!

Friday, 9 November 2012

T.G.I.F.: Ito "Butt-Pinching" Festival

You read that correctly.

At Otonashi shrine (音無神社) in Ito this Saturday you can enjoy the 36th annual “Butt-Pinching” Festival. Why the "Butt-Pinching" Festival? Well, because the festival involves a ritual where you are given some sacred sake to drink but before you can drink it, you must pinch the buttocks of the people around you. The festival runs from 6:30pm until around 9:00pm. Highlights include taiko (drum) performances and “booty sumo” (it's what it sounds like). If you are looking to see some of the weird and wonderful things that Japan has to offer, this event will likely be a memorable experience. Ladies, however, are warned that the likelihood of lecherous old men being in attendance is strong. You have been warned.

Otonashi Shrine is a 15 minute walk from Ito station (just follow the crowds). Ito can be reached by taking the JR Tokaido Line and changing at Atami. And if you are planning to stay the night, I definitely recommend K's House.  

I couldn't find a picture of the "Butt-Pinching" Festival so here is a picture of someone's butt. 

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Tops Tuesdays: Top 5 Places to See Koyo in Japan

It's the Autumn season and all around Japan the colours are turning. But where are the best places to view "koyo" (Autumn leaves)? In no particular order, let's find out!

Friday, 2 November 2012

T.G.I.F.: Sengen Shrine Annual Festival

Approximately 53 days left until Christmas! Yay! This weekend, the place to be is Fujinomiya in Shizuoka Prefecture for its biggest festival of the year; the Sengen Shrine Annual Festival. On the 3rd, 4th and 5th of November in the area around the Sengen Shrine you can experience the usual fare of a Japanese "matsuri" such as food stalls around the shrine and some "mikoshi" (big floats).

The main event is on the 4th (Sunday) where all the "dashi" (huge floats with "taiko" drummers) congregate toward the shrine to compete against each other.

And here's a hot tip: at the main information desk near the shrine, you can get a "masu" (small wooden box for drinking sake). When you buy it, they will give you a map of all the free sake tasting areas nearby. One tasting per customer however I hear that if you compliment their sake you might be able to squeeze a refill out of them!

Click the image below for more information...

Shrine to be held on November 3: annual festival
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