JAPAN PHOTOS by Philbert Ono

*Be sure to wear a mask when traveling.


Most viewed - Ogaki 大垣市
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Statue of Lord Toda Ujikane who was the Ogaki Castle lord in 1635.331 views
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From Ogaki Station, a straight shopping road (Eki-dori) goes through the center of the city. A marker shows where you turn to visit Ogaki Castle.301 views
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Sunomata Castle and gourd sculpture. The gourd (hyotan) was Toyotomi Hideyoshi's trademark as well as a symbol of this area.279 views
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Sunomata Castle.245 views
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Ogaki has a city-operated bicycle racetrack called the Ogaki Keirinjo or Ogaki Cycling Stadium. This is the entrance. Admission is 100 yen. 大垣競輪場244 views
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Road to Sunomata Ichiya Castle. "Ichiya" means "one night," referring to how long it took to build the castle according to legend. Phone: 0584-62-3322, Address: 岐阜県大垣市墨俣町墨俣1742-1231 views
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Model of Sunomata which was a post town on the Mino Road between Atsuta in Nagoya and Tarui in Gifu.227 views
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Ogaki Castle's cherry blossoms were more beautiful than I had expected.206 views
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Near Ogaki Station is a small plaza with signs telling you that Haiku poet Matsuo Basho came here and that Ogaki was his last stop on his Oku no Hosomichi journey.205 views
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Explaining the parts of samurai armor.198 views
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Ogaki's biggest festival held on the weekend on or before May 15 has 13 ornate floats called "yama." They are paraded along the streets in central Ogaki. The road leading to Hachiman Shrine is lined with food stalls.198 viewsThere are different types of floats. Mostly karakuri doll floats, but also two floats with a stage for traditional Japanese dances by young kids. The floats were inspired by karakuri floats in Aichi Prefecture and kabuki floats in Nagahama, Shiga Prefecture.
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Site of Ogaki-juku's Waki-Honjin189 views
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Ogaki Castle in April186 views
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Natural spring in Ogaki185 views
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Ogaki Castle and cherry blossoms174 views
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The second floor shows how the castle was built.169 views
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Sunomata Castle was originally built in 1561 by Toyotomi Hideyoshi supposedly overnight as part of Oda Nobunaga's strategy to conquer Mino (Gifu) Province.164 views
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The original Ogaki Castle was said to be built in 1535 by the Toki Clan who ruled Mino Province (now Gifu).161 views
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Sunomata Ichiya Castle was reconstructed in April 1991.158 views
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Sunomata Castle157 views
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Statue of Toyotomi Hideyoshi in front of Sunomata Castle.156 views
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Ogaki manhole, Gifu Pref.154 views
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Graves of those who died building Sunomata Castle.154 views
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When I visited the castle in 1995, the room still had the chairs and table the Crown Prince and Princess used. They have since been removed from the room. This photo was taken in 1995.152 views
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Ogaki Castle tower. In 1600 for the Battle of Sekigahara, Ogaki Castle was the base for Lord Ishida Mitsunari who led the Western Forces.149 views
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Bridge to Sunomata Castle.147 views
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This room was also where Crown Prince Hiro and Crown Princess Masako rested during a visit to the castle in April 1995.145 views
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Sunomata Castle has five floors. The first floor has this room introducing the nature and history of Sunomata.144 views
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Ogaki Matsuri poster142 views
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Rest area.140 views
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Near the castle entrance is this stone gourd pouring water.137 views
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Entrance to Sunomata Castle.137 views
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Rear view of Sunomata Castle.136 views
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The first floor has exhibits related to Ogaki Castle and the Battle of Sekigahara. Samurai armor132 views
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Matchlock guns132 views
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East Gate, now the main gate to Ogaki Castle. 東門131 views
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Site of Ogaki Castle's Omotemon Gate. It's within walking distance from the castle tower, but you'll need a map to find it.131 views
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Main bridge to Sunomata Castle. Gourds are prominent here.131 views
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Sunomata Ichiya Castle is open 9 am to 5 pm, closed Mon. (open if a national holiday and closed on Tue. instead). Admission 200 yen for adult, free for children below age 18.130 views
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Ogaki Castle tower (donjon) is four stories high. Now a museum.129 views
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On the left is the small bag of beans tossed by the Atago-yama float.129 views
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Statue of Toyotomi Hideyoshi in front of Sunomata Castle.129 views
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Side view of Sunomata Castle.129 views
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Ogaki Castle's East Gate (looking from the inside).128 views
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Touch-and-feel samurai weapons. Matchlock gun, bow, and spear (behind).128 views
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Ogaki Castle's East Gate (looking from the inside). This is not the Omotemon front gate which was a distance away from here (photos at bottom).127 views
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Turn here to visit Ogaki Castle.125 views
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Small sculptures on the castle foundation.125 views
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site of Ogaki Castle's Omotemon Gate.124 views
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Shrine at the site of Ogaki Castle's Omotemon Gate.124 views
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Print showing the construction of Sunomata Castle.124 views
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Gate to Sunomatawhich was also a post town along the Mino Road. Sunomata is accessible by Gifu Bus (W65 on Obusa Sunomata Route) from JR Gifu Station and Ogaki Station. Get off at Sunomata bus stop. 122 views
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The castle is small, but nice. The stairway here.122 views
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Video screening area.121 views
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Swords120 views
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Golden pair of shachi atop Sunomata Castle.119 views
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Marker pointing the way to Ogaki Castle, the symbol and main attraction of the city.118 views
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Ogaki manhole, Gifu Pref.118 views
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Way to Sunomata Castle. This path goes along the Nagara River.118 views
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Next to the castle is also this rack of gourds.118 views
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Map of the original Ogaki Castle.117 views
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Toyotomi Hideyoshi117 views
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Deadly spears115 views
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Toda Ujitaka (1854-1936), last lord of Ogaki Castle. (Toda family)115 views
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Stone foundatio.115 views
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Another bridge to Sunomata Castle. More picturesque, but almost useless as it goes to a road with heavy traffic.114 views
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Roof114 views
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Gifu Castle atop Kinkazan as seen from Sunomata Castle. Then called Inabayama Castle, Gifu Castle was one objective for Sunomata Castle and Hideyoshi.113 views
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Range of various weapons: Spear 6 meters, arrow 30 meters, bullet 200 meters, and cannon 1800 meters.112 views
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Site of a castle gate.112 views
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Inside Ogaki Castle tower that is a castle history museum with a good display of samurai stuff.111 views
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The 5th floor is the lookout deck. No veranda, but the windows are open for easy viewing and picture-taking.111 views
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Another gate along the path to Sunomata Castle.110 views
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Ogaki Castle109 views
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The Shiki no Michi Promenade starts near Ogaki Station and follows along a moat or canal for about 2.2 km. There is a nice walking path and some parts have cherry blossoms.109 views
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The 3rd floor shows how Toyotomi Hideyoshi rose to power and prominence.109 views
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Statue of Lord Toda Ujikane who was the castle lord in 1635. The Toda Clan occupied Ogaki Castle until the feudal era ended with Meiji Period.108 views
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West Gate 西門106 views
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Ogaki Castle is within Ogaki Park.106 views
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Writing by Ishida Mitsunari and other allies. (Facsimile)104 views
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View of Sunomata and the main bridge to the castle.104 views
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The fourth floor is a gallery. Pictures by local kids.103 views
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Top 4th floor of Ogaki Castle tower. There is no balcony, only glass windows.102 views
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Toda Kazuaki (1541-1603), first lord of Ogaki Castle. 戸田一西102 views
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Basic layout of the city center. Ogaki Station is on the upper right. Canals used to be the castle moat.102 views
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Ogaki Castle102 views
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Parts of a samurai warrior on horseback.101 views
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Model of a battle101 views
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Portraits of all the lords of Ogaki Castle.101 views
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Entrance to Ogaki Hachiman Shrine. Highlights include karakuri mechanical doll performances atop the floats and the floats lit up at night with paper lanterns. Held by Hachiman Jinja Shrine.101 viewsOn Dec. 1, 2016 (JST), Ogaki Matsuri Festival was inscribed as a UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity as one of 33 "Yama, Hoko, and Yatai float festivals in Japan."
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Even computers for more info.100 views
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View of Nagara River.98 views
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Taiko drum on top floor.97 views
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Inui Turret (not open to the public).97 views
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Small waterfall.97 views
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Ogaki Castle tower. In 1936, Ogaki Castle was designated as a National Treasure. Unfortunately, it was destroyed by fire in July 1945 due to World War II.96 views
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Flower tower and Hachiman Shrine torii.96 views
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Sunomata Castle marker.96 views
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About Ogaki's Honjin95 views
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The site is squeezed into a small space by a big building.94 views
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Some distance away from the main castle tower is the site of Ogaki Castle's Omotemon Gate which was the front gate. Nothing remains today, only a small shrine.94 views
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Hanging on during the tilt...94 views
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About Hokoku Shrine.94 views
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Next to Shirahige Shrine is Hokoku Shrine dedicated to Hideyoshi.94 views
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On a clear day, Mt. Ibuki can be seen.94 views
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Even toward the city center, mostly trees blocking the worthless view.93 views
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Emperor Meiji also once stayed here.93 views
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View of Sunomata-juku post town.93 views
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View from the top floor of Ogaki Castle tower. This faces the adjacent park.92 views
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Hachiman Shrine92 views
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Nagara River and Gifu Castle on Mt. Kinka on the upper left.92 views
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"Hideyoshi" in kanji spelled out with small gourds.92 views
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Hachiman Shrine91 views
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Ebisu-yama float. 恵比須(船町・伝馬町・岐阜町・宮町)91 views
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Tamanoi-yama float. 玉の井 (船町)91 views
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Hachiman Shrine 八幡神社91 views
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Entrance to Ogaki Castle tower. Admission 100 yen. Open 9 am to 5 pm (enter by 4:30 pm). Closed Tue. The castle tower was rebuilt in April 1959.90 views
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Ogaki Castle's Inui Turret90 views
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Hokoku Shrine is called the home of the "God of Success" in reference to Hideyoshi's spectacular rise to power from humble beginnings.90 views
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Shochiku-yama float. 松竹 (伝馬町)89 views
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The first of eleven floats is called Kagura-yama. 神楽 (本町・中町・新町)89 views
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Flood marker88 views
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This float features dancing by children in kimono. The back has a painting of a pine tree.88 views
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The Tamanoi-yama was a crowd pleaser with so many child dancers.88 views
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View of Shirahige Shrine88 views
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In other directions, not much of a view from the Ogaki Castle tower.87 views
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Renjishi lion dance.87 views
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Also see my YouTube video of karakuri puppets here and of children's dances here.87 views
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Looking toward Inui Turret.86 views
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Shirahige Shrine is next to Sunomata Castle. 86 views
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Shochiku-yama also features dances by children in kimono.85 views
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Site of Ogaki-juku's Honjin84 views
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Natural spring in Hachiman Shrine.84 views
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Daikoku-yama float 大黒 (魚屋町・竹島町・俵町)84 views
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After the procession, all the float again visited Hachiman Shrine. Later in the evening, they lit up the floats like the night before.84 views
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Also see my YouTube video of karakuri puppets here and of children's dances here.82 views
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Aioi-yama float. This is the newest float, reconstructed in 1996. 相生 (本町)82 views
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Top of Shochiku-yama is a statue of Benzaiten.82 views
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Castle wall with weapon holes.81 views
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Inui Turret81 views
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Also see my YouTube video of children's dances here.81 views
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Hachiman Shrine81 views
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Marker commemorating the Crown Prince and Princess' visit in April 1995.81 views
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The karakuri doll is actually writing "Ogaki Matsuri" on a piece of paper.80 views
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Namazu-yama float. 鯰 (魚屋町)80 views
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The promenade goes along the Suimon River which used to be Ogaki Castle's Sotobori Outer Moat.79 views
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Namazu means catfish.79 views
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Also see my YouTube video of karakuri puppets here.79 views
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On the first day of May 9 called Shigaku (試楽), the eleven floats first performed in front of Hachiman Shrine, then proceeded to Ogaki City Hall where also performed karakuri.78 views
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In early April when the cherries are in bloom, rides on wooden tub boats (tarai-bune) are offered. The rides sell out quickly.77 views
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Sakaki-yama float. 榊 (竹島町)77 views
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Sakaki-yama at night in front of Hachiman Shrine.77 views
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JR Ogaki Station76 views
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Sneakers76 views
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Tamanoi-yama76 views
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Model of what Ogaki Castle looked like.75 views
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While Ogaki City Hall officials sat comfortably under the shade like nobility, the floats came by one after another to perform katakuri doll stunts. The rest of us sweated under the sun.75 views
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Shojo-yama float. 猩々(宮町)75 views
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Site of Ogaki Castle's Takebashi-guchi Gate74 views
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The tapestry features the Omi-Hakkei scenes.74 views
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The Eki-dori road in front of Ogaki Station was closed to traffic.74 views
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Tamanoi-yama74 views
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Sugawara-yama float. 菅原(新町)74 views
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Near JR Ogaki Station73 views
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Shochiku-yama73 views
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Tamanoi-yama finale73 views
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Cyclists hauled away.72 views
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