Thursday, February 25, 2010

New lunar year parade at Yokohama Chinatown

Yokohama Chinatown
Yokohama celebrated the new lunar year with a colorful parade. Members of Chinese schools in Japan performing Lion, and dragon dances, also community members’ in imperial customs, paraded through the streets of the Chinatown.

chinatown kid's dragon
chinatownThe first groups of dragon and lion dancers were formed by kids of local elementary school. It was probably not the scariest dragon/lions that I ever seen, but surely the cutest.

The kid’s lions were followed by a group of members of the community dressed as period’s imperial royalty, and Chinese theatre costumes.

The crowd favorites were the kids from Chinese secondary schools in groups of lions and dragons.

At the end of the parade a 10m long dragon closed the event.


Monday, February 15, 2010

Takeshiba pier

takeshiba wharf park
The takeshiba pier is one of the passenger ship terminals of the Tokyo port. The ferry to the Izu seven islands departs from this terminal.

takeshiba terminal
takeshiba passanger terminal
takeshiba wharf
The passanger terminal becomes the busiest on weekends when the visitors depart for a weekend trip to the islands.
There are also several luxury cruisers and passenger boats that service the sumida river and Odaiba area .

Sumida river mouth
Sumida river
The takeshiba wharf park has a gorgeous view to the sumida river , and the river mouth, especially at night, when the view is spectacular. The boat ride from Asakusa to takeshiba pier is most enjoyable at cherry blossom time, when the sakura trees along the river are illuminated to provide a majestic boat ride.


Saturday, February 6, 2010

Setsubun at sojo-ji

setsubun at zojo-ji
The setsubun festival is a beginning of season festival, but the term generally refers to the spring’s bean throwing festival celebrated every year on February 3rd. The festival is celebrated around the country to drive away the evils of the previous year.
Temples offer bean throwing ceremonies where celebrities and the toshi otoko/ona or adults born on the same year as the current Chinese year animal, are invited (at a fee) to throw roasted beans to drive away the devils.

I attended this year the zojo-ji ceremony, and arrived early to ensure a good position, close to the ceremony stage.

setsubun pet blessing?
The ceremony started with a parade of the toshi otoko/ona, children from a local school, and toshi pets?.

setsubun beans throwing
Mochitsuki or mochi rice cakes pounding, was the first activity, with some of the previously made mochi thrown to the attendees. Mochi I learned the hard way, once dried can be very hard. The toshi otoko/ona where effectively throwing rocks at us.

setsubun demons
Oni wa soto! Fuku wa uchi!
setsubun battle
Next event was the entrance of the previous year evils, and the children of a local school, throwing beans at them to drive them away, very cute.

bean catching
celebrity bean throwing
After driving the demons away, celebrities and the toshi otoko/ona came out to do the mamemaki or bean throwing to the attendees. Catching one of the bean bags ensure that you will have prosperity through the year. I was not expecting the intensity of the attendees trying to catch one of the bags, this frenzy can only be described as a mix of a moshpitting and the cracking of a candy filled Mexican piñata, fortunately no one was hurt and we all got at least one bag of beans.

closing ceremony
The ceremony was closed by a retired sumo fighter singing a prayer for peace.