Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Nariakira Rokugatsu-gou 2012

It's that time of the year again, and Kagoshima celebrated the anniversary of the death of Shimdzu lord Nariakira on July 15.  I'd written up an entry last year, and there's really very little difference in the event from one year to the next.  Vendors set up stalls along the road leading up to the entrance of the Terakuni shrine, with more in Central Park a block away.  A performance stage is set up on the grounds for karaoke or traditional dance groups, and lanterns line the main grounds up to the main shrine.  People come out from a 25 mile radius to hang out, eat, drink, pray and walk around in yukata or plain street clothes.

The primary reason for taking pictures this time is that I finally got a new camera - a discounted Canon Powershot SX230 HS, and I wanted to see how it handled night shots.  I'd dropped my old camera close to 2 years ago, damaging part of the screen.  Initally, only 20% had gone black, but it's now up to 60% unviewable, and I didn't really have much choice any longer.  Additionally, it wasn't taking the kinds of shots I wanted, so I was looking at the replacement as some kind of an upgrade.  I'm finding that the Canon has some interesting, but unnecessary special features (like fish eye and toy camera effects) and that the auto mode tends to over saturate areas that have too much light.  So, I need to start using the manual controls to get better daytime shots.  But, the night shots here came out a lot better than they would have with the old camera.

I arrived close to 9 PM, when the stalls were preparing to tear down, and the crowds had thinned out.  Still lots of people lounging around and chatting with friends, though.  The performance stage was already dark, and the tables displaying bonsai and ikebana were also closed.

The big overhead banners at the front of the shrine grounds are commercially sponsored, adversing local businesses or big corporations.  The rest are handmade by students or local clubs.  The majority of the smaller lanterns are drawn by children and look pretty amateurish.  But there are a few that are worth taking pictures of.

The front of the main shrine.  Note the shelves of sake bottles in the background. Normally, companies donate the large straw-wrapped barrels of sake to the temple to ask for good business in the future.  I haven't seen a display of smaller bottles like this before.

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