Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Japanese Red Cross

Typically the American Red Cross collects blood in the US and in Japan the Japanese Red Cross takes care of this task.
Above is Kanayama Station at 6am, I usually transfer here on my way to work in the morning.  Recently this large poster was hung from the rafters, it's from the Japanese Red Cross asking people to donate nearby.  The mascot for the red cross is Kenketsu-san, a bunny with blood red ears.  This blood red ear'ed bunny kind of freaks me out.  Each evil bunny has a name, named after the type of blood it wants.
Another new edition to Kanayama station, Coka Cola and the Kiosk company recently installed this machine too.  It's kind of fun, here is a quick video of the GUI.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Handa Float Festival

Once every 5 years the city of Handa, south of Nagoya has a huge festival called the Handa Float Festival.  I'm not sure where they all come from but 31 different floats get displayed all over the city of 100,000's of people show up to check them out.
Like other festivals, each float puts on a little show with people playing instruments inside.
But these Handa floats have some really amazing embroidered rugs hung around the float.  I think this level of detail is unique to other floats at other festivals around Japan.
The images they make by stitching is almost 3D.  I think these rugs are 100's of years old.
Each of the floats have a team of local people pushing them around, playing music, putting on the puppet show and in general taking care of business.  Below you can see one of the teams getting ready to move the float from this large parking lot to the area infront of Handa Station.
 Below is team 'Blue Dragon Car', these guys were really friendly.
Below the Blue Dragon Car team is explaining the importance of this festival or something.... They were not really using English so I was not completely sure what they were talking about.
Below is the garage of the 'Naka' float.  The barrel in the middle of the garage is filled with sake.  The guy in the photo gave us a sample of sake and a Handa city glass cup to go.  Super nice people.
Below is one of the floats being moved from the previous display area to the area in front of Handa Station, you can see the station in the background.
At night, all the floats were lit using Japanese lanterns that were candled powered.
The number of people that travel to Handa is crazy, everywhere was a crowd.  
You even had to wait in line to get on the train.  Below is a view of Handa Station with people waiting to go north towards Nagoya.  This is the most full I have ever seen a platform on the Taketoyo line.
The last time they had this festival, it was 2007, about 1 year before I moved to Japan.  I was lucky enough to be here long enough to see it in 2012.

I think this is the #1 foreign blog for post about the city of Handa.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Ise Shrine - Rice Ceremony

Ise Shrine is one of the three most important shrines in Japan and is in the prefecture of Mie, about 1 or 2 hours from Nagoya city. A few months ago I visited and walked up on a couple of Shinto Priest praying next to a river but did not pay much attention to this.
After walking around he shrine for a little while, I ended up in one of the situations that I was not really sure what was going on. But with everyone else, just lined up along the side of the main road to see what would happen next.   Not much time later a Shinto priest parade started.
Hey, what's in that box?
Not sure what was in the box, but it could have not been to heavy if two priest were able to carry it.  I think this event was a rice ceremony, but again, this is just a good guess.
The priest took the box up to the shine at the top of the stair case, everyone waited for permission to go up their.
After a few minutes of waiting, the security guards let everyone walk up and see the box up close.
But at the top of the hill, no photos and the box was closed... I kind of think it was empty.