Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Doburoku Matsuri... Local News Coverage

I made the evening news!

Click on this link:

Then towards the bottom left of the page, their is an orange box with a little camera icon. Click on that. I even speak Japanese!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Doburoku Matsuri...

...also known as the unrefined raw sake festival, and if you drink the doburoku, you will be of good health all year round. This festival was located on the far south side of Nagoya in a city called Kyowa. The first thing you notice when you walk up to entrance is large monsters walking around smacking kids in the head.It quickly crossed my mind, "why are those monsters smacking the kids?" Well, it turns out the monsters are called Shojo, loves sake and if the monster smacks your kid with a bamboo stick your kid will grow healthy and smart. If you are older and the monster smacks you, it will lead to a long life. I was tapped twice!!Then out of no where, these two monsters started to smack each other. Monster on monster violence.I actually think the monsters were enjoying to much sake, but after a few minutes the scuffle calmed down and they were back to tapping kids.

The other interesting aspect of this raw sake festival was that is was a raw sake festival, and the sake was free. So, what happens if you give away sake?That's right, people everywhere, everyone in line is making their way to that white tent on the left. You can kind of see the row of people their giving away sake. The line actually moved really fast, their was 8 people pouring into these little cups.And as my coworker and I were standing here enjoying the sake, improving our health something strange started to happen. People started to take our photo, then the TV news person below started to film us just standing their drinking sake.Then this TV person started to film us.This is when we realized we were the only foreign people at the festival, maybe even it 500 year history. The second TV company actually had an on the spot reporter who when that guy started filming, she turned to us, looked for a second and said in English "do you like the sake?" Looking back at her, we both nod our head in agreement. Then she asked, "can you say that in Japanese?" while pointing to the camera. So, I made my best effort. She gave us her card and I think they might post the interview on the internet. I will have to figure that out tomorrow.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Kiso Valley

This past weekend I made my first trip to the Kiso Valley, part of southern Nagono Prefecture. This is just over an hour north of Nagoya and during this visit I visited a bunch of little cities and villages. From Nagoya, I took a train to Nakatsugawa, then a bus to Magome, hiked to Nagiso through Tsugmago, took another train to Kiso-Fukushima and Narai before returning home.

Here is the Kiso mountain range seen from Magome.These are all mountain towns like South park, very laid back and full of good food. Magome is setup with a main street running through the center of town, most places around here are like this.All of these cities are old post towns between Kyoto and Tokyo, today it is hiking path and this was the base. The hike from Magome to Tsumago started with this sign and the path to the right.Half way through the hike was the Odakimedaki waterfalls. Their is two water falls and I think they are named brother and sister. Here is one of them.Here is the town of Tsumago, their is 1000 row houses. when I arrived here, I thought is was the end of the hike. But looking around I realized their was no train stations in the village. After some investigation I learned the closest station was 4km away at Nagiso. As much as I was done walking, I tracked on.This is a view of the Japanese Alps running through central Nagano prefecture. This view was taken from Shiroyama (Shiro Mountain), the formal site of Tsumago castle.This was kind of funny. Most signs that were obvious, like 'continue walking on the same path you are on now' were in Japanese and English. Once and a while their would be a sign like this at a crossroads, something important in Japanese only. This one says 'go this way to find the train station,' but I'm to a point where I can handle stuff like this.At Kiso-Fukushima they set up 1000s of lanterns all over town. This is near Mt. Ontake, a popular ski and hiking area.Here is a very traditional Japanese dinner.Here are the streets of Narai, similar to the other small villages but a little more laid back.I guess they are heating water in their. But the tea kettle hung over fire also helps to keep the restaurant warm.Here is a very traditional Japanese lunch, soba.

The sign above says 'no parking, please.'