Sep 232012
Hounou Taiko at Dazaifu Tenjin Matsuri

Hounou (奉納) means “offering” or “sacrifice” in Japanese. Most shrines and temples have lanterns, sculptures, or torii gates that were funded by followers.

Offerings do not have to be material, however. Artists and artisans often present their skill during religious festivals.

In 2010, on the premises of Dazaifu Tenman-gu Shrine, we could see a kagura ritual dance, shishi-mai—lion’s dance, and a spectacular taiko (Japanese drum) concert.

Aug 242012
Tsumago-juku - Old post town on Nakasendo road

Though Japan is full of historical places, it is difficult to find whole towns preserving old character—without traffic, cobweb of electrical cables or cheap prefabricated buildings.

One of places saved from such an excessive development is a small section of old Nakasendo road in Kiso Valley with two small post-towns of Magome-juku and Tsumago-juku.

Jul 162012
Gion Matsuri Yomiyama – Festival's Eve

Kyoto is in a festive mood a few days before the large parade of floats.

In Yasaka Shrine, traditional kagura theater stages Japanese myths. Shijo street is full of food stalls and art performers. People come to visit the floats and buy good-luck charms chimaki.