Sunday, November 3, 2019

Ohara Matsuri 2019

Ohara is one of the two really big festivals in Kagoshima (the other is Ogionsa in the summer). Ogionsa got cancelled this year due to rain, so a lot of people apparently were pinning their hopes on Ohara this time. It's a two-day event, with companies and hospitals fielding dance teams Saturday evening, and schools and cheerleader groups parading around Sunday afternoon. The more interesting stuff tends to happen Saturday, because shochu (alcohol) is involved. I had to work Saturday, as usual, but my lessons at the school are getting more scrambled for various reasons. I ended up getting out of the school at 6 PM, and the taiko warm-up troupes began playing at the major intersections at 6:30 PM or so. (See the video below).

The first group was ok, but I preferred the second one, which was located a couple blocks away.

Unfortunately, this group is right in front of the announcer's booth, and the two announcers (in green in the white stand to the back) would NOT stop talking over the music. Sigh. (Side note: The announcers added NOTHING useful to the event.)

The rest of the dancing finally started a little after 7 PM (after a LOT of unnecessary blathering by the event guests (either politicians or company owners; I don't try listening to them). Each dance group has their own outfits, some of which tends to the comic. They all do the same dances, though.

A few mascots. Not a lot, though.

I ended up meeting two dancers that I knew (one I knew was going to be there, and the other that recognized me as a surprise).

Some of the characters liked posing for the camera more than others did.

I've seen this guy at past festivals. He just seems to like wearing kimono outside.

Also scheduled for the same weekend, very blatantly, was Shochu Street. The basic idea is that the Association of Shochu Distillers hosts all of the distillers in Kagoshima prefecture to come in and sell their new batches for the year. Maybe 20 different companies, from Amami up to Ijuin. 5 tickets for 500 yen ($4.80 USD). The area was extremely crowded (much more-so than Streetcar Street with Ohara), made worse with the live stage in the middle of the main intersection in Tenmonkan. While I was waiting for the Ohara dancing to resume during a break, I ran over here to get my five glasses of shochu on the rocks. They are all from different regions, and all good. Unfortunately, the problem was with a small group of people that insisted on stopping in the middle of the walkways to watch the stage stuff. Personally, I was bored with the music and dancing here, and had no interest in taking photos of it. So, it was annoying being stuck behind the people that blocked the only paths out of the event area, and refused to move. Sigh.

Shochu Street ran Friday-Sunday. I was busy Friday night, and I got all the shochu I wanted on Saturday. I did return to the area to take photos of Ohara on Sunday, but skipped drinking shochu again, partly because I still angry with the behavior of a very small group of the audience members the night before.

On Sunday, one of the major side streets running off of Streetcar Street was also closed off, hosting a second stage and a whole bunch of food, and nursing care booths. I debated getting something to eat, but I didn't like the prices. The stage had Southern Cross, a children's group featuring Miffy, and some other stuff. Here, we have Miffy and her "angels."

Different dance groups along the Streetcar Street route.

This one put on what looked like a traditional harvest or fishing performance (not sure which).

There was about an hour-long break between the actual Ohara dances (which is when the taiko and traditional stuff ran), so most people just stood around and killed time. There was a third live stage, down at City Hall, which largely had school kids performing. Nothing worth recording.

Back at the Miffy stage, they had "Idol Carnival." I got back just as Southern Cross left the stage. I don't know who these two were, but they were just doing the regular karaoke to some CD.

Very popular with the fanboys (otaku).

Finally, the real dancing started again.

At least someone had fun.

I went up to Amu Plaza, where nothing was happening (just some car dealer showing off high-end cars). I got some coffee at Seattle's Best and read up on cryptography before returning home. I guess Ohara officially ended around 4-5 PM. I spent the rest of the evening processing photos and video, had dinner, and went back to the cryptography stuff. The only thing to look forward to now is just one or two bands playing at Amu Plaza for Christmas. Otherwise, nothing much I know of.

Direct youtube link

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