Dec 182012
On Matsuri in Nara

There are very few festivals held in Japan in December, if you count out the Christmas shopping decorations and city light-ups. One remarkable exception is On Matsuri in Nara.

Held every year for almost 900 years, the festival is a peculiar storehouse for old customs and traditions. It is one of a few places where you can see the old forms of art like dengaku or sarugaku – predecessor of noh theater.

Dec 142012
Ako Gishi Festival - commemorating 47 loyal retainers

The story of 47 ronin needs no introduction. Based on real incident in 1701, it is celebrated in every literary form. Spoken stories, books, manga, puppet theater, kabuki theater. Western audience is probably most familiar with movies by famous Japanese directors.

On December 14th, the city of Ako – former domain of Lord Asano – commemorates the vendetta in the form of a festival.

Oct 172012
Sekigahara 2010 – regiment inspection

410 years ago, a decisive for the history of Japan battle took place.

In Sekigahara, on the crossroads of two important routes, armies of Ishida Mitsunari and Tokugawa Ieyasu fought against each other.

The result of the battle has not been determined by force, bravery, nor strategy. The winning factors were personal aversions, political calculations, and betrayal.

Aug 222012
Historical festival in Ichijodani

In 16th century, Japan was in the civil war period called Sengoku Jidai. Central government has lost its power, and provinces were managed by powerful warlords often fighting among themselves, entering and breaking alliances.

Memory about those times is still preserved by organizing historical festivals. One of them is Sengoku Matsuri in the ruins of Asakura clan in Ichijodani, present-day Fukui Prefecture.

Apr 172012
Traditional Japanese archery in Asakusa

On the third weekend of April, in Asakusa, on the bank of Sumida River, two archery events take place. A traditional contest of shooting arrows at the plastic deer and yabusame – horseback archery.

Though closely following the etiquette, both show more competitive side of Japanese archery with judges and public rewarding hits rather than perfect form.