Summer Festival Season – Drumming, Shrine, Firework, and Dancing Festivals

July 25th, 2009 by
Category: Events, Report
Taiko Festival 2007 (Photo by J. George)
Taiko Festival 2007 (Photo by J. George)

Now it’s time for exciting summer festivals!
In Matsumoto, today and tomorrow (July 25th-26th), the 22nd Annual Matsumoto Castle Taiko Drumming Festival is being held. It is very popular and features some of the best taiko groups from all over Japan. You can enjoy massive performance of the taiko drums with the beautiful silhouette backdrop of the castle.
Another famous taiko matsuri (festival) will be held in Okaya (near Lake Suwa) on August 13th & 14th. One reason for its popularity is that every year 300 drummers play taiko at the same time.

Also, some traditional shrine festivals are held in summer. Last night (July 24th), I went to Fukashi Shrine to celebrate the eve of Tenjin Festival  in Matsumoto. A great many local people, especially young people and high school students, were visiting the shrine and enjoying walking along the many street stalls set up for the festival. The atmosphere around the shrine was vigorous. I felt as if I had been transported through time to Japan in the 1960s. Read the rest of this entry »

Mt. Shirane in Shigakogen Heights

May 27th, 2009 by
Category: Experience, Onsens (Hot Springs), Outdoor Activities, Report, Sightseeing

090511_145100011I went  yesterday to Shiga Kogen Heights and walked on the top of not active volcano – Mt. Shirane.
It takes around 20min to climb the mount from Parking place. Entrance fee is included in the Parking fee 420yen/car.
It’s good exercise and after you get sweat a bit, the beauty is just right infront of you.
Volcano is full of beautiful light blue/white onsen.  You can take incredible pictures of  the volcano and view of the Shiga
Kogen mountains around.

Kimono Event, Experience, Show

April 16th, 2009 by
Category: Experience, Report

hinafesI attended an event called “Hina Doll Festival for Adults” on April 5th at the Baba Family Residence an old Japanese building in Matsumoto.
The dress code was kimono (or something pink for men), so all the women were wearing kimono.
We enjoyed tea ceremony, To-sen-kyo (a traditional Japanese game), and a concert featuring traditional music.
Read the rest of this entry »

Is Spring Really Coming Earlier than Usual?

March 27th, 2009 by
Category: Report, Seasonal Topics, Sightseeing
chilly day

chilly day

It has been chilly these past few days.

It even snowed here in Kawakami village yesterday, fluffy snow at that!

Honestly, we farmers here have quite mixed feelings toward the coming of Spring. As living creatures like any others, we naturally are delighted to have Spring come.

Yet whenever we greet each other these days, the common phrases are like;

” Darn, Spring has come!”, ” The labor days have come this year, too!”

So these chilly days make us somewhat relieved. Few more days to idle around the Kotatsu, you know.

The Sakura Front

early cherry blossoms in Tokyo last week

early cherry blossoms in Tokyo last week

On the other hand, it was officially announced that the first cherry blossoms in Nagano pref. bloomed on 24th March in Iida region.

It happened to be the same day as the announced first day in Tokyo.

cherry blossom buds in Tokyo last week

cherry blossom buds in Tokyo last week

I admit we Japanese are crazy about cherry blossoms’ blooming.

My son ,who will be a college freshman this April, is lamenting over the too early likely coming of Spring. He wants the cherry blossom petals storming over his head on the starting day of the college.

Now the TV news informs us everyday on “the Cherry Blossoms Front”,

saying it is climbing northwards earlier than usual.

So it is likely that cherry blossoms will be well over their full bloom in the early April, at least in Tokyo.


February 28th, 2009 by
Category: Culture Art, Experience, Report

Fans, Target on the Box

Hi! I happened to have a chance to experience a traditional Japanese indoor game called ‘ To-sen-kyo’ in a neighboring town, Suzaka.

Suzaka is called a town of ‘Kura’ or traditional warehouses, once thrived as a big producer of high-quality silk.


1 What is ‘To-sen-kyo’?

‘To-sen-kyo’ literally means ‘throwing-fan-amusement’.

2 How to play

Put the target called ‘Chou’ (means butterfly) on the wooden box called ‘Makura’ (pillow). You sit on heels at a distance of about 2 meters and toss an open fan called ‘Oogi’ (folding fan)to the target; the primary objective of this game is to knock over the target, but if the fan hits the base, you will lose points.

The scores differ according to the pattern made by the fan and the target, and sometimes the box.

It is said to have become popular in the mid Edo period around 1770s and is still played in some areas.


I tried many times. At first, I did not know how to toss the fan properly, and so it did not even graze the target. BUT under the kind guidance of the staff, I improved a lot in the end!!


Well, it was more amusing than it looked and , what is more, it made me feel as elegant as a court noble in old days.