Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Ohara, 2012

Every so often, I'll write about events that I stumble across by accident. There are others, though, that I'm fully aware of that I just can't attend for one reason or another, no matter how much I want to.  In October, there were two such activities, Kagoshima Asian and the Myouenji Walk. I'd seen both of these last year. The Asian event consists of groups from other Asian countries that converge on Kagoshima to perform music or to dance. The Indonesian group last year was really good and I was looking forward to watching them again, but I had to work that Saturday. The second half of the 2011 two-day event had been an outdoor performance in Central Park, but the park was scheduled for a different event this time and I ended up missing Asian entirely. (There was also Halloween, but except for a couple company parties the week before, there didn't seem to be anyone really dressing up for it or handing out candy to kids at the Tenmonkan shops.)

The Myouenji Walk is a 20 km (12 mile) trek from Kagoshima out to Kami Ijuin. I really wanted to do this one again this year to see how my foot would hold up. It's a SAGged event, meaning that there are rest areas set up along the way and drivers to rescue participants that need it. I was thinking that it was in November, and hadn't given too much thought to the fact that I wasn't seeing posters advertising it. Turns out that it's actually the fourth Sunday of October. Doesn't matter, because I was given a last-minute translation clean-up job that started that Sunday morning and was due Monday morning. So I ended up working through this one, too.  Sigh.

And so my string of luck continues. The really big annual festival in Kagoshima is Ohara Matsuri. I knew it was coming up, and I'd seen it last year as well. Essentially, it's a 4-hour slow walk from one end of Tenmonkan down to City Hall and back, with the dancers performing to music playing over the PA system the entire way. Most dance groups are employees of specific companies, especially Friday night when the companies provide free shochu, juice and tea at various rest stations.  On Saturday, the event runs from morning to afternoon, then the streets are opened up again around 5 PM. The second day features female taiko drum groups, and school kids.

I say that my string continues because I thought Ohara was Saturday and Sunday. I missed the really big dance (and free shochu) Friday night, and I had to work Saturday afternoon., I left the apartment early to watch some of the event on my way in to work, and when I got out, things were breaking up.  These photos represent about 15 minutes of my walk towards City Hall.

The Ohara truck. The sign on top says "61st Ohara Festival, Nov. 2nd and 3rd".

Generally, the music will play for 2 or 3 dances, and then there'll be a short break for people to get tea. Every two hours, the streets will clear to let the drummers set up to perform in the intersections for 5-10 minutes. Most, if not all of the drummers are female, some as young as 7 years old.

Not that many company mascots this time.

The picture above and the one below are for Kuro Neko (black cat) shipping (similar to UPS or FedEx).

I'm not sure what company he represents, but that's symbolic of the Sakurajima volcano.

The older guy on the right was practicing a particular dance pattern, and the women were trying to keep up with him. The jackets read "Kagoshima university".

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