Archive for the ‘Traditional Culture’ Category



I hope you all had a nice Tanabata weekend and didn’t miss the chance to make a wish :)

Matsuri Games


In my first article as a guest blogger in Tokyo I want to write about one of the most enjoyable things here in Japan: O-matsuri! When I arrived end of May I was told I am just in time for matsuri season – yay, many festivals that offer a fun glimpse on Japanese culture!
Matsuri offer the opportunity to relax, to celebrate, to have a lot of fun – even when you are just watching and eating (like I did) and not actively taking part in carrying a mikoshi. At the shrine-festivals you won’t see any earnest salary men in black suits, no: here people are enjoying themselves and many are dressed in yukata and special matsuri gear. That can look very pretty and sometimes.. uuhm.. quite exciting ;)
What amazes me the most is the array of games for children never seen before somewhere else in that form. Those distinctly Japanese (correct me if I am wrong) kid’s entertainments include many water games, which are thought to be refreshing during hot summerdays. For example fishing rubberballs or other toys out of a swiftly moving water stream, which is enjoyed mostly by the little ones.
Although the animal rights activist in me had to keep both eyes shut, it is great fun for schoolkids to try to catch real goldfish (and I read sometimes even tiny turtles – aaw) with round paper-covered frames. This demands a lot of skill because the paper soaks and rips easily, especially when the victim flounders and struggles not to get caught and the little fisherman keeps his scoop underwater for too long. But some way or the other the kids seem to become experts pretty fast and you can see many of them walking around proudly with their prey in small plastic bags.

Flying fish? Koinobori.

May 5th is called, Kodomono-hi/ Children’ day. A week to few days before this date, households that have boys in the family decorate Koinobori. There is wide range of size, but generally it is 30~50cm long. However, some families decorate large koinobori that are as large as 2m long, such as the picture below.



There are usually three to four koinobori that are father, mother and children and the size follow accordingly. Although this day is called, children’s day, it is a day for celebrating boys in Japan. Girls on the other hand have a day called, Hinamatsuri back in March. However, the day of girls is not a national holiday. I have always wandered why May 5th is called ‘Children’s Day,’ but only boys are celebrated, but also why only boys day is a national holiday, but not for girls. Maybe we can rename it to ‘Boys’ Day’??

Whatever the name is going to be, for adults having Golden Week is definitely a plus. I am just happy to have a break from everything!

Japan: The Best place for Valentine’s

LOVE…. if you’re a man that is. All female relatives give you chocolate, female work colleagues give you chocolate and of course your lovel one(s) give you presents. What does the man have to do? Just eat the chocolate, if you can manage it all.

There is White Day in a month’s time, when you are supposed to give white chocolate back, but Hey, they don’t do that where I’m from; it’s just a commercial creation anyway!
Mari blogged about it. Pity Japanese women today!


Equal Time.

Okay, I took a ride on the Seibu line the other day. You know what stood out? That’s right, I did not hear a single female voice from the rear of the train announcing stations. Not only that, I didn’t see any female drivers. I guess the Chuo line is a bit more progressive than the Seibu line. For what it is worth, I have seen female announcers on the Keio line. This new phenomena of women driving is not a new one.

I am seeing more and more girls doing the pedaling and the guys riding on the back of bikes. I am sorry, but this is just wrong. Call me old-fashioned.

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Maiko Blog

Maiko Blog
. Maiko is a Geiko or Geisha in training. Nowadays there’s even a blog written by a real maiko in Kyoto. It’s in Japanese, written in the geisha dialect, but she has pictures sometimes.

Half-Price Kabuki

Foreign residents in Japan can get half-price tickets for the “February Grand Kabuki”, priced at 7,500Yen instead of 15,000Yen. This gets you entry to all 3 days of the performance, on February 17, 18 & 19 at Kabuki-za Theatre in Tokyo.
Visit the website of the International Theatre Institute (ITI) for more information and to book tickets (deadline is January 28).

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