Monday, September 22, 2008

Our Second Jinja Festival (video coming soon)

I promised last year I would try to get more info on the origins of this festival but a clear definition still eludes me. Nonetheless, here are some photos and descriptions of the day.
This is a lantern outside what could be a restaurant or perhaps a meeting place for a secret society (we've never been brave enough to check it out). A rare sight on the usually dark and deserted village streets. A sign of things to come. And I like the photo for it's Japanesey-ness, don't you?
Volunteers were up late into the night making hundreds, heck maybe thousands, of mochi balls for the morning's festivities. Along the parade's procession route and after a ceremony at each stop, onlookers are pelted with these sticky rice balls. For live action mochi pelting see video.
It was another September scorcher and Nova's second time to dress up for the 3 hour procession. The crown, a cause of much drama and discomfort was ditched not long after this photo was taken.
Shawn was invited to ride the flatbed carrying the shrine replica along the route. He helped hoist the massively heavy artifact to the blessing stops. These guys start pounding the beers at 9:30 am. By early afternoon they are sleeping it off for phase two later that night. For Japanese style alcohol consumption see video.
School kids followed shrine heavers with fans to keep them cool.
This year's deity gets some air between gigs.
One of the dozen or so offering tables that each neighborhood association presents for a blessing.
Onlookers from the stop at the nursing home. When I grow old I shall wear purple.....and a giant sunhat just like this one.

A friendly sumo competition takes place after the day's long walk. To see Nova's arse kicking sumo debut see the video.
Despite generally not knowing what was going on and why, for these seasoned veterans this year's Jinja Festival was a total blast! To define confusion and total blast see video.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Grandparents and Recreation Days

Nova's school hosted a grandparent's day event this month.

Grandparents lined up for formal speeches by the children.
Nova's bow has nice form here. I'm impressed that she recited the entire speech in Japanese though she refused to tell me later what it meant.

Students and teachers worked hard to prepare hand-made ring toss and pin ball stations.
In an adjacent room Nova, Kurumi and Takayuki man the food stand, calling out irashai masei, how can we help you?!

The curry and rice, and "hamburg" were the first to sell out. These plates of construction paper food looked good enough to eat.

Grandparents sat down to their paper meals and some real refreshment.
Grandmothers and grandfathers played along with such pride. The camera phones were out in force.

Another feature, an art show of portraits of their new teacher, a young university student doing his internship in Nishiokoppe. If you're curious, here's what he looks like.
Nova's classmate recites the opening speech to eating real snacks at the end of the day.
Loved this woman's smile.Grandparent's day! What a great way to honor these family members and show off the kid's talents. Wish we had something similar at the schools in Juneau.

Then there was recreation day..... I have to admit that I dreaded the prospect of spending 5 hours of my Sunday doing relay races with Nova's classmates and their parents. But as you can see, it ended up being pretty fun. That's Nova we're dragging in the blanket. The goal, to whip your kid across the floor and around the cone without them flying off.

It seems that every public event has to have a strange sweet bread element. Students and parents have to run up and grab a bag of anko bread with their mouths.
Not humiliating at all. Nor is being pushed across the gym on a tiny tricycle by your daughter.
Ganbate, Nova.... you can do it!

Chinoske takes a rest on his dad's shoulders after a long day of recreating.

Oh, and our team won!