Samurai Dave: The Roving Ronin Report

Rambling Narrative of Travels, Thoughts, and Embellishments

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.

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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

Roller Derby Girls – Nashville Roller Girls: Heart-Takers & Ball-Breakers

Heart-Takers&Ball-Breakers – Nashville RollerGirls are an all-female roller derby flat track league based in Nashville, Tennessee. While I was home in Nashville, I took in a game and though at the time I didn’t have a clue how the game was played I had a good time with all the energy coming from the players and from the fans.

I was surprised to learn that today’s Roller Derby is actually a sport unlike its earlier predecessor which was more like WWF wrestling on roller skates. Since its recent revival, it’s one of the fastest growing female sports. I can’t wait till Japanese girls start doing it!

Nashville RollerGirls

Music by: Meant To Bleed

Meant To Bleed

I also made a video on Meant To Bleed at their live show at the Hard Rock Cafe in Nashville in June 2011

While I was in Nashville, I saw some of my friends play at the HardRock in Nashville so I decided to do a video on them.

From their Facebook: “Meant to Bleed is best described as a Rock band layered with elements of Rock, Metal, Punk and Pop.”

Basically they’re a fun group and I enjoyed the show. The rhythm (yeah I misspelled it in the video! sue me!) guitarist may seem familiar to those who have seen my Blackwood Fields video.

July 29, 2011 Posted by | music, musicians, nashville, rock, rock band, Roller Derby, Sport, Sports News, tennessee, vlog, WTF | , , , , , , , , , , , | 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

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

2010 Japan World Cup Memories

Here is my compilation of videos watching Japan in the 2010 World Cup in various places in Tokyo. Japanese fans are fun to watch and party with and of course lots of cute genki girls makes for lots of fun!

JAPAN VS CAMEROON

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.

JAPAN VS NETHERLANDS

Japan put up a valiant effort against Netherlands on June 19th but eventually lost 0-1. Many people thought Japan would lose anyway because Netherlands is such a strong team but they didn’t score their only goal until the second half. Japan came close to a draw but unfortunately not close enough. Now the big game is against Denmark June 24th which will be at 3:30am the next morning here in Japan.

I went to the artistic haunts of the Design Festa Cafe in Harajuku to watch the game and while there I polled some of the spectators on Japan’s chances. I tried to motivate flagging spirits by singing the “Oh, Nippon” song but some of them didn’t know it.

I also ran into fellow youtuber, Tolokyo, there and got his candid opinion on the game.

JAPAN VS DENMARK

Japanese celebrate going to 2nd Round with World Cup Win against Denmark

Japan vs Denmark for the chance to proceed to the 2nd Round of the World Cup. Both had beat Cameroon and both had lost to Netherlands so it was anyone’s game and a lot was riding on it.

I went to Shibuya on the last train and found fans celebrating more than two hours before the game to get themselves pysched up for the coming match.

I caught the first part of the game not too mention Japan’s first goal on a frizzy muted TV in the notorious meat-market club Gaspanic before moving on to a little under-the-tracks bar that was jam-packed spilling out up to the road. I could hardly see the game but the atmosphere was definitely lively especially when Japan scored its second goal before half-time. After half I went to the Irish bar chain Dubliner’s where I could actually see the game for a change. There Denmark scored goal but a few minutes later Japan scored it’s third and final goal winning the game and going to the 2nd Round. At this point win or lose the next game, it doesn’t really matter. It’s just enough to get through especially when many people’s expectations were so low.

Shibuya Crossing was a madhouse. The police had blocked off the main diagonal crossing for fear the street would be choked with partiers and traffic would never get through. I ended my night or rather early morning with a beer in a small bar before getting some shut-eye.

JAPAN VS PARAGUAY

Ah, Japan lost to Paraguay in the Second Round to that bullshite known as PK (Penalty Kicks) but still they played a good game and can hold their heads high this World Cup.

I went to Shibuya again to watch the game and the festivities. Unfortunately there practically more cops than fans this time around (no one was tazzed though so I have to commend the Japanese police there). Also there was no public viewings despite there being huge TV screens at Shibuya crossing.

After the game despite the loss, Japan team fans still celebrated to the wee hours.

December 31, 2010 Posted by | 2010, Blogroll, event, FIFA, Harajuku, japan, Japanese girls, party, sexy, soccer, Sport, tokyo, Tokyo Design Festa, travel, vlog, World Cup, youtube | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 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

Magome – Old Japanese Post Town in Kiso Valley

Magome is old Japanese Post Town on the old Nakasendo Road which used to connect Tokyo to Kyoto during the Edo Period (1603-1867). Travelers would stop at towns like Magome to stay the night and for checkpoint inspections as travel was highly regulated in those days.

Magome has some really nice old fashion buildings and the main part is closed to vehicle traffic. From Magome there is a two-hour hike to another post town, Tsugamo, but I didn’t have the right winter gear for it. Maybe next time.

February 11, 2010 Posted by | japan, japanese culture, japanese history, nagano, travel, video, vlog | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment