Showing posts with label Sakurae. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Sakurae. Show all posts

Tuesday, April 9, 2024

Sakurae Koinobori


Early May, 2013, and I start day 6 of my walk along the Kannon pilgrimage in the former province of Iwami, the Iwami Mandala Kannon. The last temple I visited was Senganji upriver in Kawamoto and the next two temples lie between it and my home so I decided to start out from my house and walk this section in reverse as it were.

The azaleas were starting to bloom and a few houses had koinobori carp streamers flying.

The colourful bridge that crosses the river between Tanijyugo, my village, and Kawado on the opposite bank, had recently had a new coat of paint.

Just upstream from the Kawado Bridge, two lines of koinobori are stretched across the river.

On the far bank is where the local suijin festival will take place on May 5th. A large Onusa, a purification wand, hangs over the river at this point to pacify the turbulent water deity.

The previous post in this series was Senganji Temple. Also please check out this post about the water deity Suijin.

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

The Evisceration of Rural Japan part 2

Something else closed on March 31st, Museum 104, more commonly known as Mizu no Kuni, a delightful museum devoted to water.  These photos are from my last visit there, about a year ago, though I have been many time. Earlier posts are here... 

It was a delightful place and all the foreign visitors we took there enjoyed it, but it was deserted most of the time. In fact when we first moved here Yoko wanted a job there as there were simply no customers.

It was one of the hundreds of similar projects that came out of a government program back in the Bubble era that literally gave a million bucks to every town in Japan to do with what they wished. All kinds of grand museums and auditoriums and such were built and construction companies made a fortune, but the local towns were left with the coast of maintaining and operating them. Many have closed down.

I'm actually surprised it stayed open as long as it did. I have heard that it is up for sale for the ridiculous price on 1,000,000 yen.... about ten thousand bucks.

Yoko also informs me that our local library has now seriously cut back on its services too...

Sunday, April 1, 2018

The Evisceration of Rural Japan part 1

Rural Japan

Yesterday the last train ran along the Sanko Line stopping one more time at my local station. It was one of the prettiest train lines in Japan, winding 90k up the Gonokawa River to Miyoshi. I took it regularly downstream to Gotsu, and several times a year I took the first train in the morning up to Miyoshi and then on down to Hiroshima. It has been replaced with a bus service, at 130% increase in price.

It has been no fun though for the past year or so since they announced it's closure. Extra carriages were put on to cater to the crowds who wanted to ride the train that was going to disappear, an the last few weeks it has been like a Tokyo commuter train with barely any standing room.

Somebody told me that they had read in the local paper that it was the foreign shareholders that caused the closure, but a quick check online reveals that less than 15% of the shares are held by foreign entities. Blaming foreigners is a tradional part of Japanese culture. At the station there were outsiders and locals waiting to see the last train. Special tickets at 4,000 yen a pop had sold out long ago. Everyone was handed flags and as the train approached a megaphone barked out "Stand up!..... Wave!!!"..... shades of North Korea.........

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Early Summer Kagura

Headed up to Kaze no Kuni, our local hot spring resort in the mountains nearby for a free kagura festival.

Its a great venue for it with an outdoor theater and there was lots of food and drink stalls. The different groups performing were all from the immediate vicinty and performed the more traditional, slower 6 beat style.

Lots of good guys, bad guys, and dynamic swordplay.

The highlight for me though was the offerings from a new micro brewery set up in Gotsu called Iwami Bakushu. The "Belgian White" was ok, but the best was "American Pale Ale".... so much tastier than the insipid chemical lager so common here in Japan.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

A morning walk through Senjokei


Ted of Notes From The Nog fame was visiting for a couple of days, so decided to take advantage of the fine weather and went for a hike down Senjokei, a local beauty spot.
It's a narrow gorge that has 12 waterfalls within the space of 3 kilometres.
We started at the top of the gorge in Hiwa, thinking, correctly as it turned out, that on top of the mountains the sun would have already burnt off the mist that was filling the valleys down below.
The trail through Senjokei is part of the Chugoku Nature Trail that passes through most of the interesting spots in Shimane. On all the sections of the trail that I've walked I have yet to see anyone else out walking.
There was a bit of color, though the wet and cloudy weather has made it a less than usually spectacular Fall display this year.
The mountainsides are too steep for the state to clearcut the forest and replace with tree farm
The trail has lots of walkways and stairs constructed to get through and around otherwise impassable sections of the gorge. There are also three pretty footbridges. There are also numerous toilets and picnic shelters along the trail.
The gorge opens out and the river hits the Yato River at Eno.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Riverboats & Candy-colored bridge


A couple of traditional wooden riverboats tied up with our infamous blue, pink, and green bridge behind. I recently learned the significance of the colors of the bridge. The blue represents the sky, the pink represents cherry blossoms, and the green represents the mountains. Some more photos here.


The boats are made of Japanese Cedar, and the design has barely changed in over a thousand years. Locally they are called "Takatsubune", to distinguish them from "Kawabune" which are similar but narrower and not flat-bottomed.


There are lots of kawabune used on the river by fishermen, and fibreglass ones are becoming more common. These two Takatsubune are waiting to carry the local kami with attendant priests, musicians, amd villagers, upstream for the most important religious ceremony of the year, the Suijin Matsuri.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Surprise Yosakoi

While I was at the kids kagura last saturday, a little bird whispered in my ear that there was going to be a secret, surprise yosakoi performance next morning in front of the local train station. I really like yosakoi dancing, so sunday morning we turned up in front of the deserted station.


Yosakoi dancing was invented in Kochi City back in 1954 and is pretty much traditional movements combined with modern music. Really the only rule is that naruko, japanese castanets, must be used. Yosakoi has spread all over Japan now, and has led to a wide range of styles. costumes etc.


The group performing here, Team Mugen from Okayama City, chose to use kagura flute and kagura melody in their dance, so they turned to 87 year old Ebiya-san, a friend of ours who lives in Kawado. He is the inventor and maker of the "Hero flute" that is now the standard flute in kagura performances here in the west of Japan.


The group had rented a bus and driven up more than 100 miles from Okayama to stage a surprise performance for Ebiya-san, who lives right next to the station.


I hadn't seen a group use lanterns before.


Though quite a few groups have a flag bearer.


You can seee a slideshow of all 47 photos here.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Colorful Koi

Cinco de Mayo 88

For the past week or two the Koi have been erected throughout Japan in anticipation of Children's Day on May 5th. The koi are erected by families with sons as the koi represent strength and endurance.


Just upstream from us the town of Sakurae strings 2 lines of koi across the river at the site of the years most important matsuri, the Suijin Matsuri, which is held on May 5th.

A walk to Kojindani 5128

Most koi though can be found in small groups flying from poles outside peoples houses.


To underscore that it's really Boy's Day, not Children's Day, some people put up banners with the koi,or sometimes instead of the koi. The banners display famous warriors and warlords. This one has Ieyasu, Hideyoshi, and Nobunaga, among others.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Water & light

A morning at the water museum 9273

We had a friend visiting last weekend, so of course we took him to my favorite museum, Mizunokuni, and this gives me an excuse to post some more pics.

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My overriding experience there is of water, light, and stone, so thats what these few pics are of.

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Museum 104, or its more common name "Mizunokuni" is open from 9 to 5, Thursdays through Mondays. Entrance 400yen per adult, 200yen for kids.


Mizunokuni is located on Rte 261 along the Gonokawa River, about 25 kilometres upstream from Gotsu. There is a JR station about 2k away at Shikaga.

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The chances are that the vast majority of you reading this blog will never make it to Mizunokuni as it is simply off the beaten track, but if anyone is interested in visiting, please contact me and I can help arrange a visit.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Mizunokuni (inside)


Continuing on from yesterdays post on my favorite museum, today we go inside.


The first room inside the main building is a 4-story deep chamber with a spiral ramp running around the exterior and various openings looking into the space which is a multi-media environment that is a cloud chamber. At the top of the space are chutes and each day lumps of ice are placed in them. As they gradually melt the water falls as "rain" and react with devices on the floor that trigger various lights and sounds.


Just about every aspect of this museum has really nice touches. Even the benches continue with the water theme.


After passing through a couple of galleries we come to the science of water interaction zone, a kind of mini science museum with all kinds of contraptions and devices to explore the properties of water, even a couple of water-powered musical instruments.


At the end of the building is a large dome.

richard5356Align Center

Inside of which is another kinetic light and sound environment with the perfect acoustics of the dome.

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Continuously while walking through the museum and grounds the distinction between inside and outside wavers and often lacks a distinct boundary.

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It's one place in japan I've found where modern architecture and concrete really feels like it has adopted and adapted to traditional Japanese aesthetics, as with the small garden viewable from the cafe.

Museum 104, or its more common name "Mizunokuni" is open from 9 to 5, Thursdays through Mondays. Entrance 400yen per adult, 200yen for kids.

Mizunokuni is located on Rte 261 along the Gonokawa River, about 25 kilometres upstream from Gotsu. There is a Jr station about 2k away at Shikaga.