Japan

Nanbu Parade

It's coming to the end of the summer festival season in Japan. We journeyed down to Nanbu this year to check out their little town festival that we'd never seen and pick up some farm fresh peaches. Peaches in Japan are really amazing. The flesh is white and the taste is out of this world. They take such good care of them. Putting them in little foam nets to keep them from bruising.

The Nanbu festival was a mini version of everything that a late summer festival but it has a historical reenactment of a procession of the local late 17th century daimyo. The husband and I are history buffs and I couldn't resist the costumes.

The first part of the parade were a giant group of female traditional dancers. Then came two shrines carried by  groups of guys. These guys are completely drunk. You could smell the booze ten feet away. They are followed by kegs in carts held by assistants. The fun of carrying the shrines is you get to drink as much as you want and throw water and ice on each other. It was funny watching the older sober pullers yelling at them to stop clowning around and get back to hauling.

The interesting bit: look at the fabrics that they are wearing! The patterns of manly Japanese fabrics are intriguing. I so rarely find any in the fabric stores. Mostly I think they just wear them for festivals. But it's still neat right? 

Then came the large Neputa floats. The ones in Aomori are made of paper and light up, but every other town has wooden ones that are brightly colored with little scenes on them. They are pulled by a whole host of people. I love looking at the festival garb. Especially the teenager's yukatas. It's always interesting how they pair their obi and kimono.

Then there were traditional dancers in costume. I love their outfits so much! The colors! I pulled out some of the colors for a practice for my endemic color study.

They all were wearing little carrying pouches on their obi. I dreamed of seeing  some finely carved netsuke. I believe the hats are a tohoku  tradition or even native to Hachinohe/Nanbu region.

The precession of the lady and her ladies in waiting was a little sad. They kept their heads down and took these tiny shuffling steps because of their geta and kimono. Different cultural beauty standards. These girls must have been hot. Not only is an obi as rigid and suffocating as a corset but they were also wearing outer jackets. over all their layers of kimono. The spear wielding lady guards had my favorite costume of the parade.

Some day, I too will have a shade boy, or maybe just that umbrella.

Here's a little botanical and neighborhood inspiration from the walk back to the car.

Festival Inspiration

I'm pretty sure that every festival in Tohoku happened this weekend. Or at least it felt like it.

Saturday we went out to Cape Shiriya to see the light house and the wild horses. We didn't get to see any of the free roaming horses. They must have been back up in the woods where it's cooler. But we did get to have some fun on beaches and I got some really interesting pictures of ocean and beach stuff.

Get ready to be inspired by these colors and textures:

Then on Sunday we went to the Nebuta festival in Aomori. It's the largest Nebuta festival in Japan. I've been dancing around the house hearing the drums and "Rasse Rasse Ra" in my head. Every time I see these floats I want to drop everything and make some. Or at least incorporate lights and armatures into my work. My hubby was manning the camera this time and he surprised me by getting a bunch of inspirational detail shots.

I'm working on this idea of a endemic color study of northern Japan. I took this online class about color and one of the professors mentioned someone that had done studies into why some colors are more prevalent in cultures than others. Her example was turquoise in Cuba. I've noticed that there are certain colors in and around Misawa that are just iconic Japan and now I want to go collect them all. I have a list already started in my head. Business and far too much summer sunlight have thwarted my efforts. But some day!

Or I should just find the time to go through all the photos I have already.