JAPAN PHOTOS

By Philbert Ono

Image search results - "bamboo"
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Entrance to the bamboo grove at Takebayashi Park. 竹林公園
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Higashikurume's farming homes used to each have a bamboo grove.
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However, due to urban development, the bamboo groves were fast disappearing. So from 1974, the city decided to preserve this one bamboo grove.
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A nice short trail goes through the bamboo forest.
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Bamboo forest, Higashikurume, Tokyo
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Bamboo grove
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In the bamboo forest is one of Tokyo's 57 Famous Natural Springs.
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One of Tokyo's 57 Famous Natural Springs 竹林公園・東京の名湧水57選
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Clear water, but I could not find any spot where the water was gushing out.
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Bamboo grove
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Takenoko bamboo shoot
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The giant kite was swallowed whole by the bamboo trees. No one was hurt. Also see my YouTube video here. 大凧が竹やぶに落下
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All we could see were the kite strings.
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The sign says "Arigato gozaimasu" (Thank you). I guess the bamboo was hungry for a giant kite.
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This was the 2nd time in three years for the giant kite to meet a major accident. In 2005, the kite broke in half in the sky and crashed into a crowd of people below.
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"So how does it look?" "It looks pretty bad, boss."
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Members of the giant kite preservation society look on as the disappointing and heartbreaking situation is assessed.
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Hanging on to the strings...
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As I expected, they soon started cutting down the bamboo.
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A small clearing was made around the kite.
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No way would this guy be able to pull the kite out of this one...
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How he wished that he could just pull the strings to drag the kite out.
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The kite strings were too tangled in the bamboo.
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A closer look at the accident scene. The kite suffered significant damage, and it took about 20 days to repair.
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Nature trail into bamboo forest.
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As I predicted again, they started disassembling the kite so they could roll (crumple) it up and carry it out. The kite was not flown again for this festival. It was to be its final flight since it will be replaced next year.
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Carrying out bamboo. Many people left the festival after the kite crash.
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Stack of cut bamboo.
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On Aug. 4, two days before the start of Tanabata Festival, the shopping arcades already had these bamboo poles with ropes set up.
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Pieces of bamboo hung from the ropes on bamboo poles.
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Sendai's shopping arcades were obviously designed for tanabata decorations. There are eyelets or hooks for ropes on the ceiling.
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The walls also have eyelets/hooks for ropes to support the bamboo poles.
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This large tanabata bamboo was being set up on Aug. 4.
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Drilling
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Attaching ropes. The decorations will later be attached to these ropes.
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Hoisting up the bamboo support pole.
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On the evening of Aug. 5, the Tanabata Festival Eve, a fireworks display is held at Nishi Koen Park. Here are many girls in yukata waiting for friends at Sendai Station to see the fireworks.
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Nishi Park in Sendai is full of people on fireworks night.
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This road was filled with people as well for the fireworks.
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Also see my YouTube video here.
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Sendai Tanabata Fireworks on Aug. 5, 7:30 pm to 9 pm. It was impressive. The theme was "Ring of Love."
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On the morning of Aug. 6, the first day of Sendai Tanabata, shop owners started to set up their tanabata bamboo decorations from around 8 am to 9 am.
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One bamboo pole has several decorations and each one hangs on a rope.
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Setting up Tanabata bamboo decorations.
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This decoration had little owl-shaped paper balloons. These girls are blowing air into the balloons with a straw. Sendai Tanabata.
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Attaching the ball to the body of the decoration.
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The decorations usually arrive in huge plastic bags, especially the outdoor ones. This is the Fujisaki decoration.
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When the decorations are unpacked or unraveled, they are freshened up.
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These people are spreading the wings of the origami cranes.
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The decorations can cost thousands of dollars or even tens of thousands of dollars (US$). (Hundreds of thousands of yen or a few million yen.)
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After the festival ends, many of these decorations are discarded. But some are donated to a shopping arcade in Fukuoka (Kyushu).
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Many decorations are really advertisements. But others have no ads and they are splendid. Keep in mind that the Tanabata Festival was started by local merchants, so it has commercial roots. It's not a religious event.
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Tanabata Matsuri is held in many parts of Japan, usually in shopping arcades to draw customers. The more famous ones are in Hiratsuka in Kanagawa and Asagaya in Tokyo.
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By 10 am on the first day of Aug. 6, most all of the Tanabata decorations were set up. Large crowds soon followed.
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The shopping arcades on the west side of Sendai Station is where the Tanabata decorations are. The main arcades where you can see the streamers are basically on two arcade roads: Chuo-dori and Ichibancho-dori. They intersect at a T-intersection.
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The Chuo-dori arcade is about 750 meters long. Although this arcade is a straight and continuous road, it is actually consists of three seamless arcades named Hapina Nakakecho (ハピナ名掛丁), Clis Road, and Marble Road Omachi.
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This is the Hapina Nakakecho arcade. "Hapina" stands for "Heartful Amenity Place Interfaced Natural Arcade." It also refers to "happy." When the Japanese create a new name, they love puns.
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This was my second time to see Sendai Tanabata. The first time was quite some time ago. I had high expectations, and I was not disappointed.
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The take-kazari bamboo decorations were marvelous. A myriad of designs and variety. Paper was the main material used to make all these decorations, unlike the predominant plastic found at other Tamabata Festivals in Japan.
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These decorations cannot be massed produced, all one of a kind.
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Also see my YouTube video here.
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During the morning of Aug. 6 the first day, a team of judges wearing a white cap and yellow shirt proceed through the decorations for judging. Dressed in pink is the back is one of the three Sendai Goodwill Ambassadors (not Miss Tanabata).
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The decorations are given awards such as the Gold and Silver Awards. The winners are announced later in the day, and the winning decorations are tagged with the awards. This is the Gold Award.
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Silver Award. Besides awards for individual decorations, awards are given to the shopping arcade as a whole for the bext decorations.
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Extravagant Award
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This one was clearly a crowd favorite, and not surprisingly, it won the Outstanding Award.
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It's nearly impossible to define or describe an outstanding decoration, but you know it when you see it.
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Gold Award + Outstanding Award.
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The crowd take pictures in front of this Outstanding Award decoration.
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Closeups of one of the best take-kazari of 2009.
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Many girls (and kids) dressed in yukata (cotton kimono) came to see the Tanabata Festival. Her facial reaction was typical.
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The streamers can also be quite hypnotizing if not captivating.
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People who wear yukata know how to enjoy each of Japan's seasons.
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The yukata has become quite modern. You no longer have to put your hair up when wearing one.
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Eye-catching trio of yukata-clad girls.
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Kids loved to jump and try to touch the streamers.
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