Culture, Japan, Photography, travel

Shogawa Tourist Festival

​The name of the festival suggest that it was created to promote tourism in this city, but there were a few critical pieces missing on the equation that made me believe it was the complete opposite intention. The festival was amazing by itself, but the following are just a few situations that made if this trip one of the most difficult and strange, yet enjoyable.​

1) Difficult to get in and out.

I asked for directions at the tourist information office in Takaoka station and the lady didn’t know about the festival at all, she had to make a few phone calls and search on the Internet to get the details. She explain that I had to take a local bus and get off at the last stop. I followed her directions and as I was getting off of the bus I couldn’t really see anything other than rise fields. I asked the driver and he told me to keep walking for another 10 mins and that eventually I would see it. After 10 mins walking, I couldn’t see anything else other than rice fields, some factories and a few houses. I kept walking and was getting a bit impatient, until all of the sudden I heard a drum far away on the distance, I followed the sound until reached the festival. On the way back, I took a Taxi, had to ask a security guard as the road was very empty. He suggested to go to the convenience store and ask the personel to get a taxi for me.

2) Mostly locals showed up.

It might be that this was the unlucky year where not many people traveled to see the festival, but something made me feel like if most of the attendants were friends and family with the performers. Although I did spot one westerner other than me, I felt like many people were looking at me as if I was and strange curiosity not commonly seen in the surroundings.

​Shogawa Tourist Festival and the Neighbor city’s Tonami Yotaka festival are celebrated almost the same days, nearby cities and the main event is almost the same (floats fight). I wouldn’t recommend attending to both neighboring festivals unless you have enough time and adventurous spirit. If I have to choose to attend to only one, I would choose this one given the variety of performances and relaxed / exotic environment.

Full details: http://discoverjapan.info/Details/ShogawaTouristFestival

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Culture, Japan, Nature, Photography, travel

Hydrangea season in Kamakura

Similar to the Sakura season (Cherry blossom) but in a smaller scale, hydrangea season attracts thousands of people to visit temples and gardens and admire the beauty of this flower. It is a symbol of the rainy season in japan as it starts blooming at the same time as the first rains of the rainy season, the hydrangea gets more colorful as more rain falls.

​Although, it can be found anywhere, there are a few areas that are very popular among the Japanese such as Hakone and Kamakura. I was advices to govt the latter as there are many temples and nice traditional streets all around.

​At first, I thought it was going to be a relaxing and not very busy walk. But I learned that the japanese appreciation for flowers isn’t limited to Sakura, thousands of people eager to do hanami (tradition of watching and admiring flowers), such a big crowd made the moment a bit difficult, but still enjoyable.

​Full details can be found here:

http://discoverjapan.info/Details/HydrangeaseasoninKamakura

​The following are the pictures I took.

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Art, Culture, Festivals, Japan, Outdoors, Photography, travel

Tama Genryu matsuri (Headstream Festival) Kosuge, Yamanashi

Drums being played in front of a fire with a flame taller than 5 meters next to the river, prayers for clean water and fire. A ritual I thought I could only see in movies is the highlight of the Genryu festival.

This is a daylong festival loaded with many events and performances. This area is known for its fish and wasabi which is sold at the event by many food stalls during the performances. However, the highlight of the day starts around 6:00 pm with a taiko performance (Japanese drums) as they start lighting the torches. After a few words, they proceed to burn 3 big piles of straw while the drums continue to play. The ritual ends with a display of fireworks.

Although it was a difficult transportation, I rate this as one of my top favorite fire festivals in Japan. Surprisingly not very well known by many tourist, I was literally the only foreigner in the crowd. The following are just a few pictures I took during this trip.

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