JAPAN PHOTOS by Philbert Ono

*Be sure to wear a mask when traveling.

Image search results - "dashi"
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Thank goodness for telephoto lenses.
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We waited for the log scheduled to come down at 3 pm, but it was delayed by 2 hours...
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We sat there for hours.
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Finally, people pulling the log appeared.
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The log pullers split into two.
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Then came the log, and a lotta dust which made it difficult to see what was going on.
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This was Log No. 1 for Shimo-sha's Harunomiya Shrine.
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But my camera captured the log going down, even though I could hardly see it. Onbashira Festival, Shimosuwa, Nagano. 木落とし坂 春宮一之柱
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It was over after a few seconds. We walked for an hour from the train station and waited hours for just a few seconds of mostly dust.
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Now we walked back together with hundreds of thousands of people...
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The Ax Man. He cuts the rope which sets the log loose down the slope.
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The log heading to the Shimekake resting place. If you don't like crowds, don't see this festival. Also see photos of Shimo-sha Satobiki.
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The Onbashira Festival's main event takes place at four different times in early April and early May, centering on Chino city and Shimosuwa town. It is the festival of Suwa Taisha Shrine consisting of the Kami-sha Shrine and Shimo-sha Shrine.
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Both the Kami-sha Shrine (in Chino and Suwa cities) and Shimo-sha Shrine (in Shimosuwa town) consist of a pair of shrines. So there are actually a total of four shrines involved in the festival.
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Held every 6 years (1998, 2004, 2010, etc.), this festival brings new logs from the mountain forest to all four shrines where they are erected. Each shrine receives four logs, so a total of 16 logs are cut and hauled to the shrines.Only a rope keeps the log from going down.
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The hauling of the logs from the forest to a resting place near the shrine is called Yamadashi. The hauling route and schedule for the Kami-sha and Shimo-sha Shrines are different.
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The Yamadashi log hauling for the Kami-sha Shrine was held during April 2-4, 2004. Along the hauling route is a slope where the log is slid down while men ride on it.
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These photos show the slope for the Ki-otoshi (Log Drop) along the log-hauling route to Kami-sha Shrine in Chino and Suwa.
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This log drop is one of the highlights of the festival.
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This is one log about to go down the slope. A total of 8 logs will go down this slope.
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The log is dragged to the edge of the top of the slope.
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The log is tilted upward.
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At the bottom of the slope is a huge crowd watching the spectacle, Ki-otoshi or Log Drop, Onbashira-sai Festival.
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Ki-otoshi or Log Drop, Onbashira-sai Festival.
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The slope is near the train tracks.
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Each log is preceded by flag bearers.
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Another log coming to the slope.
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The ax man is ready to cut the rope.
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In one swing, he cuts the rope.
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The rope snaps and the log slides down the slope.
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Another log comes to the slope.
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A total of 8 logs are slid down this slope.
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Everything is very ceremonial.
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Another obstacle along the route to the Kami-sha Shrine is this river.
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This river crossing, called Kawa-koshi, is another highlight of the festival. 川越し
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川越し
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Hairdo. Also see photos of Shimo-sha Yamadashi.
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The Handa Dashi Matsuri is a huge festival of 31 ornate wooden floats held only once every five years (in years ending in "2" and "7") on the first weekend in Oct. It is a non-religious festival that started in 1979. It has been held only eight times since 1979. The floats are first parked and paraded on the streets near JR Handa Station before they all proceed and gather at a large parking lot. Handa is not far from Nagoya and Toyota. The headquarters of Mizkan vinegar is in Handa. These photos were taken on Oct. 7, 2017.
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The unique thing about the Handa Dashi Matsuri is that although all the floats are religious, it's not a religious festival. It's just a tourist event started in 1979. The local Junior Chamber of Commerce started the festival to mark its 15th anniversary. From 1987, they decided to hold it every 5 years. So it is held on years ending with a "2" or "7."
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The 31 floats are religious because they come from 10 neighborhoods in Handa and each belong to a Shinto shrine in their respective neighborhoods. They hold their own religious festival every spring. And every 5 years, they all line up in a large parking lot for this Handa Dashi Matsuri.
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They had to overcome many problems (mostly egotistical, financial, and logistical) before they could get all 31 floats to agree to gather together every five years.It's a grand festival held only eight times so far. The one in 2012 attracted over 500,000 spectators. I believe it, there was a lot of people in this otherwise sleepy city.
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Intricate woodcarvings on a float. They all tell a story, but I haven't had time to learn about it.
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In the morning, they pull and park the floats along the streets near JR Handa Station.
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Clacity
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Streets near JR Handa Station.
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Police box koban
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Handa manhole, Aichi.
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Map of float locations and parade route.
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This group of float pullers sat and sang in a circle. They were half-drunk.
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Some float pullers had distinctive hairstyles.
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From 12:30 pm on Oct. 17, 2017, the floats started to gather at this large parking lot with bleachers (¥4,000 paid seating). Too bad the bleachers were all sold out for this day.Otherwise, it would've provided a great vantage point to photograph all the floats line
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For about 90 min., the 31 floats arrived at the parking lot one after another like clockwork in the specified order. Each float was introduced over the PA system as they arrived. Except for the bleachers, spectators were not allowed to enter the parking lot while the floats were arriving.
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The parking lot gradually filled up with the 31 floats. Seeing as many as 31 floats gathered in one place was a spectacle I couldn't miss.Especially when it happens only once every 5 years. The vast majority of traditional float festivals in Japan have no more than 10 floats or so.
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By 2:10 pm, all 31 floats gathered here. They would remain here here until 4 pm. Floats with karakuri mechanical puppets would perform during this time.
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After the last float was parked here, there were brief fireworks and much applause. Spectators were then allowed onto the parking lot to see the floats up close.
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One highlight of this great gathering was the performance of karakuri mechanical puppets on several of the floats.
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There was a great variety of karakuri mechanical puppets including swinging monkeys. Very entertaining with amusing theatrics.
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The 31 floats would be gathered here for only 2 hours until 4 pm. I rushed to photograph each float.
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I didn't have time to learn about the story behind each puppet performance, but it's usually based on Chinese or local legends.
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