Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Ohara Matsuri, 2014

Day 1

Ohara is the big Fall festival in Kagoshima that consists of groups of people dancing in 2- or 4-block long loops along Tram and Izuro streets. There was a national holiday on Monday (Culture Day), so Ohara ran Sunday evening, and most of Monday (Nov. 2 and 3). The evening portion started at 6 PM, with the streets being blocked off and taiko drum groups set up at various intersections. The actual dancing started at 7:20 PM. The taiko groups I saw were kind of amateurish, so I didn't take video this time. But, I had to be home for dinner at 7 PM, and I didn't see every group that was playing.

The free tea and shochu tents. The PA system plays the same songs along the entire event route, and it's up to the dance groups exactly which dances they will perform this year. About every 10-15 minutes, there's a short break when the dancers and spectators can visit the tents for drinks. For some reason, this year there weren't as many spectators, and a lot of the shochu ended up being dumped in the grass when the event ended for the night. I did do my part to save some of that shochu from this fate, anyway.

One of the better taiko groups. Unfortunately, the lighting was wrong, and the performers either turned out too dark, or really washed out. Any movement at all would turn blurry.

Food stalls. They had all of the regular festival food, including okonomiyaki, takoyaki, candied apples and franks on a stick.

There were a few foam head mascots this evening, but not as many as I expected. Most of the groups consisted of employees from various companies in Kagoshima. Lots of hospitals, children's care centers, banks and insurance companies. The one shochu company I'm familiar with (Satsuma Musou) only danced on Monday morning.

Companies generally had specific outfits for their employees to wear, some as simple as just a happi coat to put over regular street clothes, and others in full traditional costumes. However, spectators were encouraged to join in, so some of the groups included strangers in plain street clothes.

Aeon Mall is the big shopping mall at the south end of Kagoshima. It's very similar to malls in the U.S.. The light truck in the background is the primary advertising vehicle for Ohara, and it just sits in one place for both days. During the day, it's a popular photo subject for wandering visitors.

A couple of the dancers actually got into character for the night. The two guys on the right behaved like samurai for the evening, and it makes me wonder if maybe they are actors.

At 9, when things wrapped up, all the employees posed for photos for the companies' internal newspapers, scrapbooks, etc.

Day 1 direct youtube link.

Day 2

The second day was divided up into 4 or 5 segments. The first ran from about 10 AM to noon, and consisted of company groups that hadn't participated the night before, and school marching bands. The second and third segments had more marching bands and cheerleaders. The last segment went until 5 PM and was kind of a free-for-all. Plus, there were satellite stages at a couple points along the route, and another stage in front of the main train station. I got to the train station at about 3 PM, and it was just someone singing karaoke enka. So, I stayed mainly along Tram street in Tenmonkan.

The stage in front of Maruzen bookstore hosted a few pop idol groups, and performances aimed at small children. Here we have the local idol group Southern Cross.

Again, the dance groups could choose to wear traditional costumes if desired.

Miffy led children (and some very old adults) in a song about making friends.

When the groups finished, some of them decided to hang out in Tenmonkan. This one visited the Ichi Ni San soba restaurant.

At the beginning of one of the Monday segments, various representatives, and "Miss" whatevers, led the parade routes to wave at the spectators. I was on the lookout for good taiko groups, but all the drums were packed up and ready for removal when I was there, so I apparently missed out this time. (In the below video, one of the groups belonged to a ballroom dance school. I really liked the drum and dance group at the end of the video.)

Day 2 direct youtube link.

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