Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Ogionsa 2015, Day 1

Gion is a district in Kyoto. Gion-sa is a huge festival where portable shrines are carried through the Gion district. Kagoshima wanted to have their own version of this, which they call "Ogionsa". I've seen this event before, and in fact I had a lot of fun watching the Chinese acrobat performing last year. Unfortunately, the opening events for Ogionsa were on the 18th, and I had to work almost all day on Saturday (from 1 PM to 9 PM, with a short break between 3 and 4 PM). This meant that I completely missed everything at Tenmonkan Park (where the juggling and acrobat performances were held) and in front of Lotteria. All that was left was a traditional wooden stick dance, and a clown-juggler. Both videos are at the bottom of the blog. The stick dance was interesting, but the performers were a bit young and inexperienced. The clown could have been a lot better if he'd tightened his act up by 10 minutes. As it was, he spent a lot of time not actually doing much beyond shuffling around. It didn't help that one of his juggling props broke just as he was starting to use it.

There were small and big shrines set up all around the city for several weeks leading up to the main event on Sunday. For Saturday, there was a kind of purification ritual in the evening, so the shrines were prepped with the red and white cloth and made ready to be carried around in a short practice parade.

I decided to see if I could get artsy, taking close-up shots with the big camera. I'm not too dissatisfied with the results.

One of the soba noodle restaurants had a large block of ice set up outside to try to cool people down. It hasn't been excessively hot and humid so far this summer, but the temps are starting to get up into the 90's. In part, we've been getting semi-mild hot days because it's almost always overcast and/or raining. The only time the skies are clear is when the next typhoon comes up the coast and blows out the clouds a day before hitting us with the next heavy thunderstorm. Anyway, you can play with the ice and plastic balls for 100 yen (80 cents US).

The guy in the brown jumpsuit to the left has been a regular fixture sitting on the ground in Tenmonkan for months now. He keeps moving around depending on which shops are shuttered for the day. He's kind of a street performer, making Japanese-style calligraphy paintings for the passersby. Generally, the only people with him are friends that want to talk. But, during Ogionsa he was actually getting customers.

Examples of some of his work. Two of the cards have the characters for "mother" and "father", plus some kind of text beneath them.

Direct youtube link for the stick dances

Direct youtube link for clown/juggler

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