Samurai Dave: The Roving Ronin Report

Rambling Narrative of Travels, Thoughts, and Embellishments

Nishimonai Bon Odori – Japanese Dance for the Dead Video

In the small town of Nishimonai in the northern prefecture of Akita, the locals perform a Bon Odori – a special dance for Obon which is a time for honoring the ancestors.

The Nishimonai Bon Odori is unique in that some of the dancers were a black hood to represents the spirits of the deceased. Other dancers wear a patchwork kimono of silk fabric known as hanui and a woven straw hat called a amigasa.

You can’t see the faces of the dancers which gives the whole dance a kind of surreal quality.

For those practicing Japanese, take the challenge in seeing if you can comprehend the Akita-ben (dialect) of the singers.

September 24, 2009 Posted by | Akita, Bon Odori, culture, dance, festival, japan, japanese culture, Nishimonai, Nishimonai Bon Odori, Obon, tohoku, tradition, travel, video, vlog, youtube | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Funekko Nagashi – Japanese Boat-Burning Festival Video

Here’s a video on a Japanese Boat-Burning festival known as Funekko Nagashi which takes place in the northern city of Morioka. The festival is part of the Obon tradition, a time when many Japanese travel to their hometowns to pray at their ancestors’ graves.

Here they contruct makeshift boats, pack them with fireworks, and set fire to them as they float down the river.

September 10, 2009 Posted by | festival, fireworks, Funekko Nagashi, iwate, japan, japanese culture, matsuri, morioka, Obon, Only in Japan, tohoku, tradition, travel, video, vlog, youtube | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Look at the Northern Japanese City of Morioka

Morioka in northern Japan is the capital of the Iwate Prefecture. I went there recently for a festival where they burn makeshift boats for Obon – the festival for honoring their ancestors’ spirits.

In this video I take a look at the city of Morioka itself and talk a little about its past and some of its sites.

September 9, 2009 Posted by | history, iwate, japan, japanese culture, japanese history, morioka, tohoku, travel, video, vlog, youtube | Leave a comment

Japanese Ghost Stories – The Tree Spirit

Stories of ghosts, monsters, and things that go bump in the night were the favorite past time of Japanese in olden days as a way to cool down on hot summer nights.

This story is about a greedy woodcutter who encounters a tree spirit.

Trees are or were believed to become alive after a thousand years or so.

September 9, 2009 Posted by | folklore, Ghost Stories, Ghosts, japan, japanese culture, japanese folklore, japanese ghost stories, Japanese Ghosts, nature, Storytelling, trees, video, vlog, weird, youtube | Leave a comment

Ghost Stories – the Flute in the Wilderness

When it comes to Ghost Stories, there are two basic types: the traditional type which is often based in folklore and deal with themes like revenge, love, sadness, etc… These stories serve a purpose to teach a lesson or just to provide a scare.

The other type is the “true” ghost story which have no rhyme or reason because the incident is often unexplainable to those who witness it. This is the kind of story where something strange has happened to the teller or someone they know. This type borders on urban legend but it is in that gray area between the real world and that “other” world.

Here I recall a story that happened to one of my uncles when they went camping in the wilderness.

September 9, 2009 Posted by | Ghost Stories, Ghosts, Storytelling, true ghost stories, video, vlog, weird, youtube | , , , , | Leave a comment

Japanese Samba Carnival in Tokyo 2009 Photos

Japanese Samba Carnival in Tokyo 2009 Photos

The summer ended in Tokyo with its usual steaminess of humidity and sexy samba. Alright calendarally-speaking, summer’s not over till Sept 21st but many Japanese view the end of August as the end of summer as most school kids in the States do as well. Anyway, in the Asakusa district of Tokyo they held their annual samba carnival with their usual array of scantily-clad girls samba-ing away to the delight and lust of photographers.

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A Samba Dancer and an appreciative old timer admiring the view

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A leaking walking water faucet

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Dancing Water Drops

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The Plucky Piranha Make a Splash at the Carnival

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Goth Samba

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I have “Thriller” playing thru my head for some reason

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Marie Antoinette meets Bride of Frankenstein?

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Samba Vikings Taking a Break

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I almost didn’t go BUT something made me change my mind

September 1, 2009 Posted by | brazil, carnival, dance, japan, samba, sexy, tokyo, travel, video, youtube | 3 Comments

14 Meter Tall Gundam Float and more Giant Gundam in Odaiba

This is a short follow-up to my Gundam vid. Here I talk about a 14 meter tall Gundam float made of Japanese paper – washi – that I saw at a festival in Aomori, the “Gundam Gap” in my Japanese Anime experience, my video game experience with Gundam: Federation vs. Zeon, and a little bit more about this Gundam’s “secret” potential.

June 26, 2009 Posted by | Anime, festival, goshogawara, Gundam, japan, Japanese Anime, japanese culture, matsuri, nebuta, neputa, Only in Japan, pop culture, tachi neputa, tohoku, tokyo, travel, vlog, weird, WTF, youtube | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Giant Gundam Robot Model in Tokyo – Video

Embrace your inner geek – in Tokyo a life-size Gundam almost 60 feet tall has been revealed in all its glory. Gundam for those not up on their anime nostalgia was an animated show which started in 1979 about a future where robots or mecha piloted by humans battle for supremacy or something like that (I never saw the show). 

Tokyo’s Gundam is currently in Odaiba. The big ceremony will be July 10th and it will remain throughout the summer. The Gundam model has 50 points of light, emits steams, and its head revolves left to right and up.

Music by The Exotic Ones:
http://www.myspace.com/exoticones

June 26, 2009 Posted by | Anime, Gundam, japan, Japanese Anime, japanese culture, tokyo, travel, video, vlog, weird, WTF, youtube | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Japanese Goldfish Catching Game – Kingyo Sukui

If you come to Japan, you might come across this bizarre festival game that mixes gambling and pet shopping with a little bit of fishing too.

Kingyo Sukui is the Japanese game of goldfish scooping where you can win a pet goldfish should you so desire.

The game goes back to the late Edo Period around the early 19th Century. You can always find Kingyo Sukui stalls at Japanese festivals and other events like hanami (cherry blossom viewing).

You have a bowl and small net scope which has very thin paper. The object is to scoop the goldfish into the bowl without breaking the paper. You can continue scooping up goldfish as long as the paper doesn’t break — even if there is only a thin corner left.

The game stall owner told me that Japanese people like Kingyo Sukui because it’s a form of gambling that requires luck, skill, and patience. Originally it was for children but the popularity of Kingyo Sukui caught on and now there is even a national championship of goldfish scooping for all ages.

The Nintendo Wii has a video game based Japanese Festival games and events in which one of the mini-games is a virtual Kingyo Sukui.

June 10, 2009 Posted by | japan, japanese culture, japanese goldfish scooping, kingyo sukui, travel, video, vlog, weird, WTF, youtube | , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Modern Deadly Arts of the Samurai – JPOP

The samurai were Japan’s elite warrior class of long ago – masters of many deadly weapons and stern possessors of martial fighting skills.

In Tokyo’s modern mecca of electronics and anime, Akihabara, the samurai have re-emerged as masters of a new deadly art.

Also check out my earlier video on the secret desire of the ninja:

These stealthy assassins of yore…what lurks deep in their hearts? 

Their whole lives are dedicated to their craft…to stealth, to sabotage, to espionage, to theft, and to assassination. 

But what do they dream of when they allow themselves to succumb to sleep’s gentle embrace? 

What is it that they secretly yearn to do? 

Watch this video and learn “The Secret Desire of the Ninja”

April 7, 2009 Posted by | akihabara, comedy, dance, humor, j-pop, j-rock, japan, japanese culture, jpop, music, ninja, rock band, samurai, tokyo, travel, video, vlog, weird, WTF, youtube | , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments