Samurai Dave: The Roving Ronin Report

Rambling Narrative of Travels, Thoughts, and Embellishments

Dezuiri 2012 – Yokozuna (Sumo Champion) New Year Ring-Entering Ceremony at Meiji Shrine

Every year on January 6th, to celebrate the coming year, the current sumo champion(s), Yokozuna, come to Meiji Shrine and perform a Dohyo-iri or ring-entering ceremony. For Yokozuna there are two styles – Unryu the more common is seen as a defensive stance and Shiranui is a more offensive stance. They are named after Yokozuna by those names – though there is debate that there was a mix up and that each wrestler actually performed the other’s style.

Anyway, Hakuho performs the less common Shiranui style dohyo-iri and wears a Shiranui style rope which has two loops in the bow. I read somewhere there is a superstition that Shiranui has brought bad luck to previous Yokozuna who performed that style. It remains to be seen if Hakuho will escape such a fate.

January 10, 2012 Posted by | 2012, japan, japanese culture, japanese history, Japanese martial arts, martial arts, meiji shrine, sumo, tokyo, video, yokozuna | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

2012 Emperor of Japan’s New Year Address

On January 2 the Japanese Emperor makes 5 appearances with members of the Imperial Household to give a short (emphasis on short) speech welcoming the New Year.

Although the Japanese Imperial system goes back well over a millenia, the tradition of making public addresses to gathered crowds only dates back to after WWII.

I’ve been to the New Years Address about 4-5 times now. The interview footage is from the 2009 and 2010 speeches.

This year however was different than previous years and the Emperor made direct mention to the Earthquake of March 11th and the continual suffering of those directly affected by it.

January 10, 2012 Posted by | akihito, blog, Blogroll, japan, Japan Earthquake, Japan Vlogger, japanese culture, japanese emperor, japanese imperial palace, New Years, tokyo, tokyo imperial palace, video, vlog | , , , , | Leave a comment

Ninja vs Samurai at a Japanese Festival (Nagoya Matsuri)

The age-old question of “Ninja vs Samurai – who would win?” was tackled recently at Nagoya Matsuri in a fight between a blue-clad ninja (a Smurf ninja?) and an armor-wearing samurai. The results may surprise you; however with Ninja, things are not always as they seem…

November 3, 2011 Posted by | japan, japanese culture, Japanese festival, martial arts, matsuri, Nagoya, ninja, Only in Japan, samurai, video | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Ganbaremasu Japan! Support for Japan in the wake of the 3/11 Earthquake and Tsunami

This is a video I made in support of Japan after the earthquake and devastating tsunami which caused much damage and loss of life in northeastern Japan in the Tohoku region.

Over a couple of days I got Japanese and foreign-residents to show their support and togetherness in dealing with the aftermath. I included footage of various Japanese festivals to showcase Japanese spirit and strength. Many of the festival clips were taken at events in the Tohoku area. The singing is from the World Cup celebrations this past summer.

April 26, 2011 Posted by | 2011, culture, earthquake, festival, japan, Japan Earthquake, japanese culture, Japanese festival, tohoku, tokyo, video, vlog | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Ryuhyo – Japanese Drift Ice in Hokkaido

Japanese Drift Ice – Ryuhyo

Ryuhyo is drift ice that appears along the northern coast of Hokkaido (in northern Japan) in the Sea of Okhotsk from about late January to early April. Visitors can take hour-long cruises on ice-breaking ships from northern coastal towns like Abashiri. Drift ice is important to the region’s ecosystem because it helps plankton grow which are the base of the food chain for the region. Unfortunately in recent years Global Warming has reduced the amount of drift ice.

This footage is from about 2 years ago that I just now got around to editing. I was in Hokkaido for the Yuki Matsuri/Snow Festival and decided to go to Abashiri to see the drift ice. This was actually my second time having gone before a few years earlier. I was lucky on both occasions to see the drift ice because some days you can’t see it as it depends on the weather and wind conditions.

March 2, 2011 Posted by | abashiri, drift ice, global warming, japan, nature, Ryuhyo, Sea of Okhotsk, snow, video, winter | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Japanese Firewalking Festival – Akibasan Gongen Hibuse Matsuri

Buddhist Priest prepares to walk over hot coals

This video is from a year or two ago when I caught the tailend of a fire festival out near Odawara an hour or so to the southwest of Tokyo. Buddhist Priests dressed as Yamabushi – mountain hermits – walked over hot coals. Later, participants were allowed to do the same so I kicked off my shoes, waited in the freezing dirt till I got my chance to walk over by-then-not-so-hot coals.

The festival is called Akibasan Gongen Hibuse Matsuri and it’s held in mid-December at Ryokaku-in Temple.

TORCH DANCING

This footage was taken slightly in slo-mo (hence the out-of-focus look) of a torch dance at the fire festival. It’s accompanied by a rather catchy Buddhist chant.

January 7, 2011 Posted by | fire, fire festival, Fire Walking, japan, japanese culture, Japanese festival, matsuri, travel, video, vlog | , , , , | Leave a comment

Happy New Years 2011 From Tokyo!

Happy New Years from Tokyo! Here are a few scenes of me celebrating the new year in a couple of places from one of my old watering holes when I used to live in Otsuka the Black Sheep in Ikebukuro where I did the countdown. Then I moved on to Shinjuku to Decadance Bar which is like a mini-Tokyo Decadance event every weekend.

At the end of the night I ended up in Roppongi fairly hammered before stumbling back home and missing my connection stop. All in all, a good time! Happy New Years!

From some other New Years Activities in the past:

New Years Eve at Zojo-ji Temple in Hamamatsucho

New Years Day Activities at Yasukuni Shrine

January 2, 2011 Posted by | 2010, 2011, culture, drinking, japan, japanese culture, New Year's Eve, New Years, party, tokyo, tokyo decadance, travel, video, vlog, yasakuni shrine, youtube, zojo-ji | , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

2010 Kuroishi Neputa Matsuri

2010 Kuroishi Neputa Matsuri

Kuroishi Neputa Matsuri is a Japanese festival in the small town of Kuroishi in the Aomori prefecture in the northern Japanese region called Tohoku. For the festival, the people of Kuroishi make floats of washi – japanese paper – and paint them with scenes from Japanese and Chinese history and legends. The floats are illuminated from within so it makes for some beautiful artwork.

December 31, 2010 Posted by | culture, festival, japan, japanese culture, Japanese festival, matsuri, neputa, Only in Japan, tohoku, travel, video, vlog | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Japanese Fans Reacting to World Cup Win 6/14

Despite low expectations, Japan beat Cameroon June 14th 1-0. Many expected Japan to lose because they were lower in rank than Cameroon and hadn’t done so hot in the pre-Cup games.

I watched the game at a bar in Tokyo and later walked about and over to a Hub Pub and talked to Japanese and foreigners alike about the game. I forgot my video camera at home so I was forced to rely on the crappy video function of my small digital photo camera so the audio and video are bit rougher than usual.

June 16, 2010 Posted by | 2010, FIFA, japan, soccer, Sport, video, vlog, World Cup | , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Japanese Igloo Festival – Kamakura Matsuri in Yokote

Japanese Igloo Festival
Kamakura Matsuri

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Kamakura Matsuri – Japanese Igloo Festival in the northern Japanese city of Yokote

In the small city of Yokote in northern Japan, the citizens eschew the modern conveniences of warm homes in the middle of February and pile into small snow huts known as Kamakura. It’s the Kamakura Matsuri and they’ve been doing this for over 400 years.

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Sori – old fashion sled for transporting toddlers and supplies

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Kamakura occupants wearing old fashion hanten coats or donbuku in the Akita dialect

These Kamamura-style igloos are two meters in diameter made of piled-up snow which is then later hollowed out. Inside is a charcoal brazier in the middle to keep the place warm. The temporary inhabitants of these Kamakura sit on cushions while cooking sweet mochi which is a type of a chewy rice cake and heating up a type of non-alcoholic sweet-tasting type of sake known as amazake.

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On the far side wall is a makeshift altar to Suijin-sama, the Shinto god of water. One of the origins of the festival is that one time Yokote suffered from a lack of drinking water and the Kamakura were erected to get Suijin-sama’s attention. Suijin-sama’s attention is also requested in the form of rain in order to provide enough water for the coming planting season.

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Visitors are invited to enter the Kamakura and freely partake of the mochi and amazake. Many of the occupants of the Kamakura are rather short. This is due to the fact that many local children play house in the snow huts. They are the hosts and hostesses which explains why it’s hard to find hot sake or beer in many of the Kamakura. The ones with bigger inhabitants will sometimes have the necessary liquid refreshment.

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Cooking mochi

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In addition to the charcoal braziers, the locals stay warm by wearing a straw cape called mino and a traditional winter coat known as a hanten. Hanten is a short winter coat with thick cotton padding which became popular in the 18th Century. In the Akita dialect it is called a donbuku or donbugu by older generations.

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Yokote Castle 

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Most of the Kamakura snow huts can hold up to about 4-6 people but at the end of the evening I ended up in one that held 17 people! These were all full grown people so there was booze a-plenty leaving me very warm that cold night but with a raging headache the next morning.

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The Kamakura Festival is a simple but beautiful festival and it’s very friendly and inviting. The festival is held every year February 15th and 16th from 6pm to 9pm.

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Hundreds of miniature kamakura dot the city of Yokote

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February 27, 2010 Posted by | Akita, festival, japan, japanese culture, Kamakura Matsuri, matsuri, snow, snow festival, tohoku, tradition, travel, video, vlog, winter, Yokote | , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments