JAPAN PHOTOS by Philbert Ono

*Be sure to wear a mask when traveling.


Most viewed - Moriyama 守山市
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Katsube Fire Festival: Men dance in rings in front of the fire. Also see the video at YouTube.343 views
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Giant torches in Katsube Shrine, Moriyama, Shiga Pref.238 views
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Moriyama firefly manhole, Shiga Pref.228 views
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One of the six torches carried into the shrine.227 views
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Nagisa Park in Moriyama, Shiga has this beautiful field of nano-hana rape blossoms blooming in winter from early-Jan. to mid-March at this lakeside park. なぎさ公園 MAP226 views
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Moriyama Station, west side. The west side of the station (toward the lake) is the main side. The east side is mainly residential. This building also has the Moriyama tourist info office to obtain maps and info. 守山駅212 views
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Kaeru frog to wish you a safe return. 東門院189 views
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Held annually on May 5 by Ozu Jinja Shrine, the festival consists of dances and music by children, taiko drumming, a naginata dance and acrobatics by boys using a pole sword, and a roundtrip procession. Ozu Jinja Shrine torii. 小津神社184 views
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Shimoniikawa Shrine, site of the Sushikiri (sushi-cutting) Festival on May 5. The shrine is a 20-min. bus ride from Moriyama Station. 下新川神社 MAP173 views
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Moriyama manhole, Shiga Pref.164 views
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The fire at its peak was very hot to the skin. Sumiyoshi Shrine Fire Festival, Moriyama, Shiga in late Jan.160 views
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Sumiyoshi Shrine Fire Festival, Moriyama, Shiga Pref. on the second Sat. of January.160 views
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The torches burn within seconds.153 views
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This was my favorite part of the festival. Funa-zushi was offered to everyone at the festival. Some people refused though. I love it. It was salty. Goes great with alcohol.147 views
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Flower hat dancers at Naginata Matsuri, Moriyama, Shiga Prefecture.145 views
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Sushikiri Matsuri (sushi-cutting festival) in Moriyama, Shiga Prefecture.134 views
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Shimoniikawa Shrine worships a god named Toyoki-iribiko-no-Mikoto who was the first son of Emperor Sujin 崇神天皇, Japan's tenth emperor. 豊城入彦命130 views
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Boy drummers.123 views
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At 6 pm, half-naked young men wearing loincloths march to the shrine. They are 15-34 years old. 迎え118 views
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Fire truck and hydrant right outside the shrine.114 views
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Taiko drum procession. Three taiko drums are carried around the neighborhood.109 views
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It gets very hot...109 views
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My video of the Katsube Shrine Fire Festival on Jan. 12, 2013. Three Japanese kids report in English.109 views
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All fires totally fizzled out.108 views
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They turned off all the lights and lit the torches all at once! Torch lighting! (たいまつ ほうか 松明奉火)107 views
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Taking a sip of sacred sake. They soon get pretty drunk with sacred sake as they walk around the neighborhood beating the taiko drum.106 views
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After a few minutes and before it gets unbearably hot, the fire peters out.104 views
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Rain never dampens the spirit of the people carrying a mikoshi.104 views
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Biwako Ohashi Bridge as seen from Mt. Hiei.102 views
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Moriyama Driver's License Center, where many people in Shiga got their driver's license. MAP101 views
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Withdrawing the burnt-out torch100 views
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Prayer ceremony at Katsube Shrine before they start parading with three taiko drums. 修祓式(しゅっぱつしき)99 views
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Katsube Shrine was founded in 649 and originally dedicated to a warrior god by the Mononobe clan.97 views
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Local firemen96 views
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Rear view of torches.94 views
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Inside Pieri Moriyama. It was in financial trouble due to competing megamalls in southern and eastern Shiga. Many stores closed. MAP94 viewsThe mall is being revived.
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You can take home a branch of the torch for family safety.92 views
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Shrine worshippers92 views
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One torch enters the shrine. At around 8 pm, the young men start hauling in the giant torches that were displayed in the neighborhood.91 views
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Marker indicating a boat landing at this street corner across from the shrine.91 views
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At around 8 pm, the three taiko drums return to Katsube Shrine (たいこ みやいり 太鼓宮入り)90 views
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Snuffing out the last flames90 views
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The waiting crowd.89 views
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A total of 12 torches are then in the shrine.89 views
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Withdrawing the burnt-out torch88 views
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Amid rain, the procession going back to Ozu Shrine.88 views
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The giant torches burnt out within 10 minutes.87 views
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Biwako Ohashi Bridge spanning Lake Biwa from Moriyama to Katata.83 views
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Portable shrine81 views
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Unfortunately, it later rained in the afternoon.81 views
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The Katsube Shrine Fire Festival is held annually on the second Sat. of January. They light 12 giant straw torches with young men dancing around. The shrine is near JR Moriyama Station (JR Tokaido/Biwako Line). 80 viewsThis is the shrine's main o-torii gate. MAP
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Road marker. Established in 1642, Moriyama-juku was the sixty-seventh of the sixty-nine stations or shukuba post towns on the Nakasendo Road. It is the eighth Nakasendo station in Shiga (following Musa-juku in Omi-Hachiman).79 views
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They also danced in front of the shrine. For more info about the festival, call the shrine at 077-585-3380 (in Japanese).79 views
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Unoke is the former home of the late Prime Minister Uno Sosuke. Now owned by the city, it has been renovated as an exhibition space and restaurant/cafe.77 views
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Pieri Moriyama, a new shopping mall near the lake shore.73 views
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Naginata odori dance in Moriyama, Shiga. Also see my YouTube video here.73 views
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The taiko men parade around the neighborhood from about 6:15 pm to 7:50 pm. (たいこ わたり 太鼓渡り)72 views
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According to legend, 800 years ago during the Kamakura Period, Emperor Tsuchikado fell ill. A fortune-teller said that it was due to a monster orochi dragon in the marsh in the area of present-day Moriyama.71 views
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The older men wear red loincloths and the younger ones wear white.71 views
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In the foreground are torch stands, partially burnt.70 views
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Sumiyoshi Shrine is on the west side of JR Moriyama Station. This side has an area called "Fuke" written with the same kanji for "uwaki" (cheating on your partner).69 viewsI wonder what married couples think of living in this area...
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Fire truck and burnt torch.69 views
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Katsube Shrine and giant torches. Six torches were laid within the shrine grounds. I saw the festival twice, in 2006 and 2013.69 views
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Poster recruiting torch/taiko drum men aged 13-34 to carry the taiko drums and giant torches on the day of the fire festival.69 views
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The men receive sacred sake and a good-luck charm from a shrine priest. The ceremony is called, Shushi-mairi (しゅうしまいり 牛玉参り).69 views
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Rear view of burning torches.69 views
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Katsube Shrine in Moriyama, Shiga Prefecture. The Honden main hall behind the building you see here is an Important Cultural Property.68 views
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Both Katsube Shrine and Sumiyoshi Shrine hold a fire festival on the same day and same time so you cannot see both fire festivals on the same day.68 views
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These little pieces of wood symbolize the scales of the orochi dragon.68 views
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Some 400 bundles of rapeseed hulls are used for the 12 torch heads. The torch head smells like tatami mat.68 views
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They all carry a shushi stick imprinted with "Prayer for family safety and health" (奉納勝部神社 家内安全 かない あんぜん).68 views
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The festival got its start when the legendary Toyoki-iribiko-no-Mikoto crossed Lake Biwa from the west shore to Moriyama on a log raft to subjugate the eastern provinces. A local villager then offered him pickled carp caught in Lake Biwa as an offering.67 views
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How spectacular can a pair of boys be, cutting up a fish? This festival always receives a lot of publicity on TV and newspapers, but I didn't see that many people attending. Not so many photographers either, although NHK TV was standing next to me.67 views
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The emperor sent hunters to kill the dragon which they finally did and burned the body. The emperor then recovered from his illness. When the dragon was burned, the body fell on Katsube Shrine while the head fell on Sumiyoshi Shrine.67 views
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Six more torches were right outside Katsube Shrine. They will be carried into the shrine one by one to be burned.67 views
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A total of 12 giant torches would be lit up for the festival. In the old days, they had more torches, but the number has decreased due to the difficulty of procuring materials.67 views
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Katsube Shrine torii.67 views
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The lantern bearers lead the way as the taiko drum bearers exit the shrine.67 views
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Photographers stake their place hours before the festival started. The prime viewing spots were already taken by 4 pm.66 views
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The torches are made of tree branches, bamboo, and straw from rapeseed hulls. Many people are involved in gathering the materials and making the torches.66 views
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Another Katsube Shrine torii.66 views
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All the Torch and taiko drum bearers (たいまつぐみ 松明組) and helpers (せわかた 世話方) now line up in front of the shrine to receive sacred sake (おみき お神酒) and a good-luck charm (おふだ お札).66 views
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Old Nakasendo Road and Dobashi Bridge. Supposedly, this is the bridge from where Hiroshige drew his print of Moriyama-juku.65 views
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The torches are about 5 meters long and weigh over 400 kg.64 views
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The festival is also called Naginata Matsuri (festival) and Naginata-furi held in Moriyama, Shiga. 長刀振り63 views
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About 12,000 flower plants carpet the area in yellow. Free admission. 61 views
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Pieri Moriyama's own boat dock.61 views
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Not a spectacular view, but the lake can be seen.60 views
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The festival ended quickly. A lot faster than the Katsube Shrine's Fire Festival held at the same time.59 views
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Tenmangu Shrine57 views
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Fire hydrant and hose just in case.57 views
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Moriyama Ginza shopping street near Moriyama Station57 views
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Dobashi Bridge56 views
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Taming the firre.56 views
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Mayor of Moriyama drinks the sake as Uno Osamu, one of Shiga's National Diet members, looks on.56 views
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Mikoshi56 views
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This Lake View room is a rest place.56 views
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On the balcony of Pieri Moriyama.56 views
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Accessible by bus from Moriyama Station.55 views
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These boys are carrying a long sword called naginata. Later they will perform acrobatics (dance) with the naginata.55 views
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Road marker. Go right for the Nakasendo Road. MAP54 views
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Tenmangu Shrine54 views
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Biwako Ohashi Bridge as seen from Pieri Moriyama.54 views
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Delighted to find free Internet connection terminals if you have a your own computer.54 views
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Naginata odori dance54 views
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Opened in 1998 to mark the 40th anniversary of the company's founding. Highly recommended. Museum has a Shinto shrine architecture. Built on the company's former truck depot.54 views
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Stone for safe childbirth53 views
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Child musicians53 views
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Tomon-in temple built by Buddhist Priest Saicho (Dengyo Daishi) to protect his Enryakuji temple on Mt. Hiei from demons from the east. 東門院52 views
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Within the shrine grounds is this monument indicating that legendary Emperor Jimmu worshipped here. 神武天皇遥拝52 views
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Plaza in front of Moriyama Station, west side. MAP52 views
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Rainbow52 views
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Mt. Ibuki as seen from Nagisa Park.52 views
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樹下神社51 views
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First they moved the fish to the left side in unison. 51 views
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Monument indicating that Emperor Meiji worshipped here. 明治天皇遥拝51 views
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Marker for the Kabuto-ya inn50 views
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Men in loincloths beat the wall in a building, then came out with small torches.50 views
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Glad that this isn't a summer festival when all the flies would flock to this stink fish.50 views
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More men light the torches. The straw ignited almosty immediateely and no kerosene was used.49 views
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Great way to warm up.49 views
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Kanko-no-Mai dance, a kind of lion dance. かんこの舞49 views
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Rear of road marker48 views
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Sumiyoshi Shrine torii. Notice the torches inside the shrine. 住吉神社 MAP48 viewsEvery Jan., both this shrine and Katsube Shrine light giant torches for the festival's climax. Unfortunately, you cannot see the festival at both shrines since they are held around the same time. Sumiyoshi Shrine's fire festival is smaller with fewer (six) torches which represent the head of the slain dragon.
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All the while, the boys were heckled by men (mikoshi bearers) sitting on the steps in front. I didn't realize it then, but the heckling was part of the ceremony.48 views
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At times, the priest would give advice to the boy. 48 views
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The first cut. The knife is about 45 cm long and the chopsticks over 40 cm long.48 views
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Sumiyoshi Shrine and the six giant torches.47 views
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The shrine priest gives advice. Also see my YouTube video here.47 views
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Wearing hanagasa flower hats, the dancers performed here near the shrine before proceeding to Ozu Shrine. MAP47 views
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Mikoshi starts to leave.47 views
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Before the torches burnt out completely, the men hauled away each torch one by one.46 views
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Flute players pose for a picture.46 views
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Gate to Sagawa Art Museum. Admission 1000 yen for adults. Operated by the Sagawa Kyubin door-to-door courier company. 25-min. bus ride from JR Moriyama Station. MAP46 views
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Sumiyoshi Shrine Fire Festival45 views
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First the two men are served various food and drink for a meal. Two young lads will cut funa-zushi fermented fish (crucian carp native to Lake Biwa) as an offering. The festival prays for abundant harvests and good health.45 views
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A red sake bowl is brought.45 views
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Local dignitaries attending the event. 45 views
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Plaza in front of Moriyama Station, west side.45 views
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Flower hat girls pose for a picture.45 views
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Before leaving Ozu Wakamiya Shrine, the boys performed their naginata dance which were more acrobatic than a dance.45 views
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Sushikiri Matsuri festival started about 400 years ago.44 views
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Inside Shimoniikawa Shrine setup for the Sushikiri Matsuri held on May 4-5, but May 5 is the main event. The formal name of the festival is Omi-no-Kenketo Matsuri. 近江のケンケト祭.44 views
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Sacred sake is served.44 views
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Also see my YouTube video here.44 views
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Then very stylishly, they wield their long metal chopsticks and a large knife to start cutting. Everything was done in unison between the two boys.44 views
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Sitting in the front were the shrine priest, in red, and the man in black who was the chairman of the local neighborhood board 自治会長. The ceremony started at 12:30 pm.43 views
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The two local boys (age 14 and 15) arrive for the sushi-cutting ceremony.43 views
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Oh yummy! Looks delicious. There are ten fish, but the boys cut only three fish during the ceremony. We could readily smell the fermented fish.43 views
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It takes 3 or 4 years to ferment the fish with salt and rice. It's Shiga's most famous delicacy. In the old days, it was common for people to make their own funa-zushi. Today, few make their own. Most buy it at the supermarket, fish shop, etc.43 views
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Wiping off their sweat.43 views
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The smell of the fish wafted through the air.43 views
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The shrne priest refuses another round of sake.43 views
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The Sushikiri ceremony was over after about an hour. Then was the Naginata procession.43 views
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Other side of the lake as seen from Moriyama. The giant and rusting ferris wheel is at the defunct Biwako Tower amusement park.43 views
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View from Biwako Ohashi Bridge. The bus ride over the bridge from Moriyama to Katata takes about 36 min.43 views
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Sagawa Art Museum has twin buildings housing works by painter Hirayama Ikuo, sculpture by Sato Churyo, and tea bowls by potter Raku Kichizaemon. 43 views
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Sumiyoshi Shrine and the six giant torches.42 views
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Torch stem42 views
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Sumiyoshi Shrine42 views
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A wooden cutting board with 10 funa-zushi each.42 views
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Finally the main dish.42 views
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Bus in Moriyama42 views
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Crossing the Biwako Ohashi Bridge by bus which shuttles between Moriyama Station and Katata Station on the other side of the lake in Otsu. There's a sidewalk for pedestrians and bicycles. MAP42 views
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Head of torch. Different shape from Katsube Shrine's torches.41 views
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Sake poured high for the mayor of Moriyama, one of the dignitaries watching the festival.41 views
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Torches are bunched together.40 views
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Back of the torch heads.40 views
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Sake poured for the shrine priest.40 views
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Also see my YouTube video here.40 views
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While ringing a bell, he provided the dance beat for the flower hat girls.40 views
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Side view of torches.39 views
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Naginata boys39 views
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Hiroshige's woodblock print of Moriyama-juku (68th post town on the Nakasendo) from his Kisokaido series. Tea houses in spring.39 views
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Straw-covered torches.38 views
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First man lights the giant torches. This was around 7:45 pm.38 views
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