JAPAN PHOTOS by Philbert Ono

*Be sure to wear a mask when in crowds.

Image search results - "tama"
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Held on Dec. 2-3 by Chichibu Shrine, Chichibu Yomatsuri is one of Japan's Big Three Hikiyama Float Festivals. Ornate floats are pulled along the city's main streets until they reach a large plaza at night where they are lit with lanterns. Fireworks then serve as the climax. Photo: Seibu Chichibu Station
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Yasukuni Shrine during the Mitama Matsuri before dark.
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Well-wishers look on as rowers embark for the race taking place at the same venue where the rowing competition was held at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics.
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JR Kawagoe Station 川越駅
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Kawagoe Matsuri is a parade of ornate floats during the day and evening in the city's old town of traditional buildings. Around 15 floats appear during the festival. Held on the third weekend in Oct. Main road where the festival will climax in the evening.
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Entrance to Honmaru Goten palace, Kawagoe Castle.
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Gate to Kitain, a Tendai Buddhist temple.
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One of two giant kitesThis festival has two giant kites and two smaller (but still large) kites. Resting on its side, the kite was scheduled to fly at 2 pm. The kanji characters read "Michi no Eki" in reference to a new train station built in the town.
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Festival's focal pointThis grass hut is at the center of the festival site which is within the Sakitama Tumuli Park. It will be burned later in the evening for the festival's climax.
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In front of Seibu Chichibu Station
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Yasukuni Shrine's main torii during Mitama Matsuri
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Finish line end of the 2000-meter Toda Boat Course.
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JR Kawagoe Station plaza
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One of the picturesque streets of the city.
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Kitain Main hall, Kawagoe
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Offerings
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Main street crowd
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Promenade to the shrine
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End of the Toda Boat Course, near the 2000-meter finish line.
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Hon-Kawagoe Station 本川越駅
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Children lead the way for a float at Kawagoe Festival.
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Garden
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Main hall
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Festival siteIt is a circular site with people sitting along the perimeter.
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Floats parked along the main drag.
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Spotlights create a silhouette of the statue of Omura Masujiro (1824-1869) 大村益次郎, founder of Japan's modern army.
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Housing for visiting rowing teams whose school flags are displayed.
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Toki no Kane, Time Bell Tower, symbol of Kawagoe. 時の鐘
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Pagoda at Kitain temple, Kawagoe
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Lowering the kite
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SpectatorsThese people are sitting in the best area to view the festival.
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Ornate float is pulled along the streets toward Chichibu Shrine.
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A bon dance around the base of the statue.
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Boat landing near finish line.
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There is a bell at the top which is rung 4 times a day. The bell or gong looks like a temple bell.
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EntertainmentAn outdoor stage provides a variety of entertainment during the day.
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Chichibu Yomatsuri. Also see the video at YouTube.
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Hosei Univ. cheering section on the first day (Aug. 24, 2006) of the 33rd All-Japan Intercollegiate Rowing Championships.
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The bell is rung at 6 am, 12 noon, 3 pm, and 6 pm.
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Tekomai geisha lead the way for a float at Kawagoe Festival.
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Festival participantsThey are dressed in the costume of the ancient Kofun (Tumuli) Period of Japan. They will be carrying torches from the nearby tumuli.
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第33回全日本大学選手権大会・第46回オックスフォード盾レガッタ
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Kura-zukuri style architecture. Local merchants built these earthen buildings after the Great Fire of Kawagoe in 1893. 蔵造りの町並み
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Tekomai
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Veranda facing a garden.
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Over 500 stone statues of Rakan Buddhist disciples
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Patch up
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TumulusCherry trees are at the top.
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Stage at Chichibu Shrine
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Spotlights hit the torii.
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Numerous college and corporate rowing clubs have dormitories along the boat course.
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Kurazukuri earthen buildings were fire-resistant, so they built these fire-resistant shops after the Great Fire. "Kura" means warehouse.
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Also see the video at YouTube.
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Carved during the 18th and 19th centuries.
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Shinto ceremonyAt around 6:30 pm, the festival climax starts.
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Chichibu Shrine
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At night, 30,000 lanterns light up. A real summer spectacle.
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Notice board for the race schedule and results.
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Hill where the Fujimi Turret once stood.
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五百羅漢
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Moving the kite to launch point
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Torch bearers enter
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Kawagoe Festival
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Seibu Ikebukuro Line train station entrance at Ikebukuro, Tokyo. It takes about 90 min. from Ikebukuro to Yokoze Station via Tokkyu express train. Cheaper trains take 2 hours.
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Chichibu Shrine offertory bin
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The lanterns are lit by lightbulbs, not candles.
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Saitama Stadium is a large soccer stadium built for the Soccer World Cup in 2002 and now home of the Urawa Reds. Way to Saitama Stadium 2002 from the train station.
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JR Okutama Station 奥多摩駅
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View from the spectator stand, near the finish line.
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Kawagoe Festival Museum (Kawagoe Matsuri Kaikan) 川越まつり会館
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Former castle moat.
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Festival siteThey did not allow people go enter the launch area at all times. Spectators were kept far away.
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Marvelous spectacle
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Kawagoe Festival Museum
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Stage performance at Chichibu Shrine
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Seibu Ikebukuro Line train with shibazakura design.
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These photos were taken during the Vodafone Cup with the Urawa Reds vs. Manchester United on July 30, 2005. Over 58,000 fans attended.
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JR Okutama Station 奥多摩駅
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Rowers reach the finish line after 2,000 meters.
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Psst, wanna know a secret? Kitain Temple, Kawagoe
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Parade aroundThe torch bearers parade around the entire perimeter before they gather around the hut.
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Seibu Ikebukuro Line Yokoze Station. Get off here for an easy walk to Hitsujiyama Park where the Shibazakura moss pink hill is. A tourist info office is on the left. 西武池袋線横瀬駅
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Tanabata streamers festoon the gate.
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Vodafone Cup with the Urawa Reds vs. Manchester United on July 30, 2005.
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JR Okutama Station 奥多摩駅
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When I walked around, my planned 20-min. stay turned into a 2-hour walking tour of this pacifying place, full of mountains and a clear river. A delightful discovery. Suigen Park
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The surroundings are not very scenic, and the water is not so clean.
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Street signs in English
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Oh man, I forgot my glasses!
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No people on the sides either
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Also see the video at YouTube.
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You can buy a park entry ticket (300 yen) at a booth in front of Yokoze Station. Maps also available. Underpass at Yokoze Station.
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Float at Chichibu Shrine
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Stadium entry
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On the side of the road near the bus stop, there is a trail going down to Tama River.
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Completely surrounded by mountains with a clear river running in the middle.
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Okutama Station at night
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Kyoto Univ.
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Shopping street
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Turning the corner
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Boo-hoo! My cat ran away!
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Launch point on a low hill
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Male prince
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The map tells you how to walk to the park, but better to just follow the signs.
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At 6:30 pm, a mikoshi portable shrine was paraded along the promenade.
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A suspension bridge over the river.
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A few bridges span the river.
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2nd floor of Okutama Station has a gallery and soba shop
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Kyoto Univ.
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Closeup of carvings on a float.
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City Museum 市立博物館
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Female princess reigning over the Sakitama Fire Festival in Gyoda, SaitamaShe's 15 years old.
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Bell tower at night
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Entrance to Hitsujiyama Park. Show your ticket or buy it at the booth nearby.
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Float at Chichibu Shrine
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Also see the video at YouTube.
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Okutama Station platform
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Tama River as seen from the bridge.
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Preliminary heats were held on the first day.
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Also see the video at YouTube.
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Residence
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If you go early in the morning, there are fewer people.
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Saitama Stadium 2002
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Tama River
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Tama River, looks very inviting in summer.
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Coach with megaphone
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Moving a float to the starting point.
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Ride'em cowboyAs the kite quickly flew up, the forward kite pullers had to release the rope.
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Torch lightingThe prince and princess light the torch that will ignite the hut.
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Quite spectacular when the flowers are in full bloom.
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Main drag
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Tama River, very quiet and peaceful.
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Upriver as seen from the bridge.
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Kyoto Univ.
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Climax
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These photos were taken in late April 2007. (Copyright year in the images are mistaken.)
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Mini octopus
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Crystal clear water of Tama River
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Exhausted rowers at finish line.
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It is not yet full bloom. A few patches of green.
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Storehouse for a float
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Urawa Reds fans. Also see the video at YouTube.
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Crystal clear water of Tama River with fall leaves.
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Winners of the preliminary heats advanced to the semi-finals held on the 3rd day (Aug. 26).
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Steering the float
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One of the giant spotlights used to accent the mikoshi, torii, and night sky.
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Tamagawa River has a good number of cherry trees in Hamura.
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On sunny days, great for taking pictures.
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Local fire station designed like a float.
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Chichibu Station on the Seibu Ikebukuro Line 西武池袋線 秩父駅
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Koku-Koen Station on the Seibu Shinjuku Line 航空公園駅
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Trout fishing ponds for customers in warmer months.
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Michi no EkiThe kite design is the same every year, but the kanji characters change. They make a new giant kite every year.
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Torch bearers from the tumulus
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Weeping cherry
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Seibu Ikebukuro Line train at Chichibu Station
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In front of Koku-Koen Station. Notice the paper plane sculpture and YS-11 prop plane.
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Attendance number
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These photos were taken in Feb. Probably scenic in fall.
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Riverside fishing ponds
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The race course is filled with boats on the side practicing or rowing to the starting line.
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Getting into a float.
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Stage ceremonyThe torch bearers gathered in front of the stage where there were speeches and cheers.
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The shrine is dedicated to Sarutahiko and Ukano-mitama. Sarutahiko is a god which serves as a pathfinder guide. Deities for land/sea transportation safety. 二見
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After the mikoshi, the Nebuta float and haneto dancers make an appearance.
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Weeping cherry next to the water park.
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Eight varieties of moss pink are planted. This is Autumn Rose. オータムローズ
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How to turn the float.
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Chichibu Station platform on the Seibu Ikebukuro Line
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Paper plane sculpture
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Sea of Red
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Mountain with a patch of green.
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Path to Otaki Waterfalls 雄滝
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Sporty police car.
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FireworksThe festival ended at 7:30 pm.
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The frog is Sarutahiko's messenger. Frog is called "kaeru" in Japanese, which is a homonym for the another word meaning "return home." If you travel a lot, pray here for a safe return. 夫婦岩
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Rassera-rassera!
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Weeping cherries
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Autumn Rose. Moss pink flowers have five petals with notches, looking like miniature cherry blossoms. The flowers are small. オータムローズ
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Children's kabuki
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Nakamise shopping arcade at Chichibu Station 仲見世
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Another sculpture in the Aviation Memorial Park.
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Bus stop. Notice the monkey crossing the road.
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Waterwheel 水車
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The Toda Boat Course is a perfectly straight body of fresh water stretching over 2000 meters.
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Drag marks
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Futami Okitama Shrine does not have a main hall (Honden) like most other shrines. It worships the Okitama Sacred Stone in the ocean beyond the Wedded Rocks. 二見興玉神社
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Floats at night, Kawagoe Festival.
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