Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Kawara with plaster

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Something Ive only seen a few times, and always on the Pacific Coast, is plaster used, Im guessing, to hold the rooftiles together.

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I'm guessing that it is to prevent damage during typhoons.

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The place I saw it is most was on the island of Iwaishima off the coast of yamaguchi, where all theses photos were taken

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It does make for some interesting patterns though....

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Monday, August 29, 2011

Shichirui

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This is the draincover for the town of Shichirui, now part of Mihonoseki, amalgamated with Matsue.

The design depicts the ferry that runs to the Oki islands.

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The ferry terminal is in a complex designed by Shin Takamatsu, and I will be posting on it shortly.

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The Shimane Peninsular in the area is a really nice stretch of coastline....

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One thing I hadnt seen before, while we were waiting to leave the Okis on the ferry, local people connected themselves to departing friends by streamers...

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Tenjin on the beach

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Starting this weekend and running for 2 weeks is a sand sculpture event on the beach in front of Aquas. The theme is Iwami kagura.

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On Friday evening only 2 sculptures had been completed, the artists were hard at work on a third. It looks like there will be 8 in total.

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To open the event, kagura was performed on friday and saturday night.

Friday night was the group from nearby Arifuku Onsen.

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The first dance was Tenjin, based on the story of Sugawara Michizane who was banished to Kyushu and died there. Posthumously he was raised in rank and became the kami of scholarship. Students preparing for exams will visit a Tenmangu shrine.

The first part of the dance consists of Sugawara and an aide waffling on about how unfair it all is.

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The second part is a sword battle with Fujiwara Tokihira, the man responsible for Sugawaras banishment. Tokihira is of course killed.

It was a very competent performance, very tight, which is not surprising as the Arifuku Onsen group play once a week....

Friday, August 26, 2011

Inside Grin Grin

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Grin Grin, or Gurin Gurin, or Green Green is a park and greenhouse complex on Island City, a man-made island in Hakata Bay.

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Its planned to be a city of the future, with residnetial, business, education, and leisure facilities.

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When I was there a few years ago there was no-one else there other than me

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It was designed by Toyo Ito, and while it was certainly pleasant enough I dont think it deserves all the accolades it has received.

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A previous post on Grin Grin can be found here

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Thursday, August 25, 2011

Vacation 2011 Day 5 Jardin Marjorelle

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In the afternoon the weather brightened up a bit and we went to the Majorelle Gardens.

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Jacques Majorelle was a French painter who moved to Marrakesh in 1919 and it was he who designed and created the garden.

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Following his death the garden and house was bought by Yves Saint-laurent, and when he died he had his ashes scattered in the garden.

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The shade of Cobalt blue used is named after Majorelle.

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I'm a sucker for cactii, and there are lots of them in the garden..

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Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Imbara Obon Matsuri

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For Obon we went upriver a little ways to Imbara, part of Kawamoto Town, to check out their matsuri. There was kagura performed by the local kagura group who play in Hiroshima style. First dance was Jimmu, a 4 person dance depicting the final subjugation of the Yamato area by Jimmus invading force.

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Next up was a performance of Zeni Daiko, a "dance" using 2 tubes decorated with tassles. Traditionally the tubes are bamboo and strung inside them are old coins, but nowadays plastic is not unusual. The tubes are waved, shaken, tapped on the floor, spun, and flipped from hand to hand in time to the music and provide a percussive accompaniment. The dance seems to be very popular in local villages.

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Then some traditional dancing.....

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The second kagura dance was one I had not seen before. Yamanba, based on a Noh story is popular with Hiroshima style groups, and I was pleased to see a mask that was new to me.

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The "mountain hag" of the story transforms into her evil form...

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... and a final battle puts paid to her and her accomplice....

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Then there was the Bon Odori itself, and unusually it only lasted about 40 minutes..... other Bon Odoris Ive been to have gone on for hours. Also unusually a few of the villagers wore costumes for the dance....

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The finale was a firework display..... not big by city standards, but nice that there were no barriers and huge crowds....

Monday, August 22, 2011

Soreisha Tsuwano

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A soreisha is usually a small shrine dedicated to the ancestral spirits of parishioners who have received a shinto rather than buddhist funeral.

Until 1868 shinto funerals were extremely rare, and only really came into existence with the separation of the buddhas and kamis in 1868.

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Soresha were usually small and located in the grounds of the local shrines, and sometimes in private homes.

The daimyo of Tsuwano, however, decreed in 1868 that all of his subjects would receive shinto funerals.

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From 1886 to 1945, soreisha became illegal within the grounds of regular shrines as they were deemed private and shrines were supposed to be public. Possibly this one in Tsuwano did not as everybody had to have shinto funerals, therefore the soresiha was public.

I have heard that to this day a large percentage of people in Tsuwano still have shinto funberals.

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The daimyo of Tsuwano, and several other scholars of National Learning from Tsuwano were instrumental in creating the national policy of shinbutsu bunri as well as the persecution of buddhism. Anti-christian thought was also strong which is probably why "hidden christians" were sent here for "re-education"

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Sunday, August 14, 2011

Kuromatsu Matsuri

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A couple of weekends ago was one of my favorite matsuris at Kuromatsu, a fishing village on the coast not far from here.

I usually experience the matsuri from one of the flotilla of boats that take part, so this year for a change I thought I would see it from the land.

The matsuri takes place on the beach in front of the local shrine....

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Around 5 in the evening the mikoshi is brought down to the beach......

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It needs to be taken out to a small uninhabited island offshore where the honden of the shrine is located so that the goddess can be transferred into it and brought back to the beach for the matsuri.....

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The boat used to carry the mikoshi, priests, and musicians, is a purpose built boat just used for this annual trip.

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Once all are onboard the boat joins a flotilla of fishing boats that will escort it out to the island and back....

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but first all the boats do three circuits of a small outcropping of rocks a few hundred meters offshore on which have been placed 2 small pine trees with a bamboo crosspiece to for a natural torii...

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Then everyone heads out to the island to pick up the goddess....

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