Category Archives: fun

Yabusame – Women’s Horseback Archery Festival

Photo property of NewinNippon

The history of Japanese horseback archery dates back to the 4th century, however, women mounted archers are a modern innovation.

Photo property of NewinNippon

Photo property of NewinNippon

Yabusame (流鏑馬) is a type of mounted archery in traditional Japanese archery. An archer on a running horse shoots three special “turnip-headed” arrows successively at three wooden targets. A red parasol is displayed if the rider hits the target with the arrow.

Photo property of NewinNippon

Traditionally, women were barred from performing in yabusame, but in 1963 female archers participated in a yabusame demonstration for the first time. Every spring in Towada, women from around the area demonstrate their marksmanship while balancing on a galloping horse!

Photo property of NewinNippon

A yabusame archer gallops down a 255-meter-long track at high speed. The archer mainly uses the knees to control the horse and uses both hands to draw and shoot the bow.

Yabusame was designed as a way to please and entertain the myriad of gods that watch over Japan, thus encouraging their blessings for the prosperity of the land, the people, and the harvest.

Photo property of NewinNippon

An arrow finds it’s mark!

Photo property of NewinNippon

A young archer in training.

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Cherry Blossoms in Northern Japan

Photo property of newinnippon.

The cherry blossom have arrived in Misawa Japan. I’m so glad to be home in Japan once again and just in time for spring! Here is a beautiful poem by C. Richard Miles that describes my feelings better than I ever could…
 

Photo property of newinnippon.

 
Cherry Blossom
 
The cherry blossom’s out to brighten city streets
And daffodils all shout that spring is here to greet
The trees, about to burst in bud and leaf and bloom,
That bring us all relief from winter’s hateful gloom.
 
The cherry blossom’s out and scattered in a drift
All down the busy road, a welcome petalled gift
Resembling winter snow, all soft and white and light
But not so cruel and cold, this cheerful, happy sight.
 
The cherry blossom’s out, so simple clean and pure
Before it starts to fall upon the road’s rough floor
But even in the crush of traffic’s trundling wheels
Its bloom brings us a blush of beauty, which appeals.
 
The cherry blossom’s out and floats upon the breeze
Which toys with every branch upon the cherry trees
In cheerful playfulness on this soft, spring-like day
An early splash of white before the buds of May. 
 

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The Year of The Rabbit – 2011

2011 is the year of the rabbit! Everywhere across japan you can find the image of the rabbit on cards, calenders, and stamps. The year is based on the cycles of the Chinese lunar based calendar. Chinese New Year occurs in February 3rd.

According to theholidayspot.com the year ahead should be:

A placid year, very much welcomed and needed after the ferocious year of the Tiger. We should go off to some quiet spot to lick our wounds and get some rest after all the battles of the previous year.

Good taste and refinement will shine on everything and people will acknowledge that persuasion is better than force. A congenial time in which diplomacy, international relations and politics will be given a front seat again. We will act with discretion and make reasonable concessions without too much difficulty.

A time to watch out that we do not become too indulgent. The influence of the Rabbit tends to spoil those who like too much comfort and thus impair their effectiveness and sense of duty.

Law and order will be lax; rules and regulations will not be rigidly enforced. No one seems very inclined to bother with these unpleasant realities. They are busy enjoying themselves, entertaining others or simply taking it easy. The scene is quiet and calm, even deteriorating to the point of somnolence. We will all have a tendency to put off disagreeable tasks as long as possible

Money can be made without too much labor. Our life style will be languid and leisurely as we allow ourselves the luxuries we have always craved for. A temperate year with unhurried pace. For once, it may seem possible for us to be carefree and happy without too many annoyances.

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The flame of Hiroshima and Nagasaki

On our last trip to Tokyo, we were walking through Ueno and happened upon the monument to the flame of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Standing in front of this monument is a very moving experience. The marble slab is surrounded by hundreds of paper cranes, a symbol of peace.

The Origin of “the Flame of Hiroshima and Nagasaki”

“On August 6, 1945, US forces dropped the world’s first atomc bomb on Hiroshima, and another on Nagasaki…Sometime later, Tatsuo Yamamoto went to Hiroshima in search of his uncle, and found a flame of the atomic bomb burning in the ruins of his uncle’s house. He brought it back to Hoshino-mura, his hometown in a memento of his uncle and an expression of his resentment. But years went by, the meaning of the flame turned into a symbol of his desire for abolition of nuclear weapons and for peace. Hoshino-mura built and torch and transferred the flame to it on August 6, 1968. It has been keeping the flame ever since as the flame for peace, with the support of the villagers.

 

“The use of nuclear weapons will destroy the whole human race and civilization. …The elimination of nuclear weapons…has become the most urgent and crucial for the very survival for the whole of humanity. There must never be another Hiroshima anywhere on earth. There must never be another Nagasaki anywhere on earth.” – Appeal from Hiroshima and Nagasaki, issued in February 1951.

In 1988, a flame was taken from the torch and was merged with another flame lit by the friction of broken roofing tiles of Nagasaki. Along with 30 million signatures collected in support of the “Appeal from Hiroshima and Nagasaki”, it was carried to the Third Special Session of the UN General Assembly for Disarmament taking place in New York City.

We hereby pledge to keep burning the A-Bomb flame, convinced that this monument should contribute to strengthening the worldwide people’s movement to abolish nuclear weapons and achieve peace, which is the most urgent task for the people across the borders. – August 1990, Association for the Flame of Hiroshima and Nagasaki Lit at Ueno Toshogu”

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Its Festival Time in Nothern Japan!

July and August are the summer festival months in Northern Japan. Every weekend there are multiple festivals nearby making it difficult to choose which one to attend! If you are in the area, here is a list of upcoming festivals

We attended the Neputa festival in Hirosaki last weekend. The parade of floats lasted for three hours while the crowd cheered them on. The floats are pulled by groups of men and women. Each float had drummers and flute players accompanied by groups of children carrying lanterns. The festival was truly a joyous celebration!

 

On a sad note, my Sony Cybershot DSC W-150 died 30 minutes before the parade ended. As you can see, the camera was taking fantastic night shots right up until the last. R.I.P. my dear little Sony Cybershot. You will be mourned…

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Rice field art near Hirosaki, Japan

Tony and I recently headed to Hirosaki for the Neputa festival and decided that we would stop in Inakadate and see the famous rice art recently featured on CNN. From a ground level view it is nearly impossible to determine the artwork. In order to view the subject depicted, you must view the field from atop a four-storied building across the street.

Amazing! I never knew there were so many color variations among rice plants!

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Wild Horses at Cape Shiriya

This weekend, we drove up to Cape Shiriya to view the wild horses.

“Crossbred with the Tanabu and the French Breton breed, Kandachime horses are tolerant of northern Japan’s brutal winters, have great stamina and exist on a simple diet.”

“In 1970, a local elementary school principal composed a tanka, a 31-syllable Japanese poem, that gave the Kandachime their name — literally “to stand in the cold.””

“On clear days, the northernmost Japanese prefecture of Hokkaido can be seen to the north across the Tsugaru Strait.” Well, it wasn’t a clear day….

You can read the full article from stars and stripes at: http://www.stripes.com/military-life/travel/where-wild-horses-roam-in-northern-japan-1.11331

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35 Things I Have Learned in Thirty-Five Years

My thirty-fifth birthday is just around the bend. Or over the hill. It’s all a matter of perspective. To celebrate this day and to commemorate the last thirty-five years, I want to share a few things I have learned.

1. Never turn down chocolate.

2. Loneliness is not unbearable, but friends are a gift from God.

3. Olive oil is good. Mrs  Tuckers lard is not.

4. Dirt roads can often lead to exciting destinations.

5. Always wash your hands.

6. When you think that you cannot find the strength to go on, you just do.

7. Spending everyday with your best friend is the best part of marriage.

8. Gravity always wins.

9. The toilet paper should go over, not under.

10. Little old ladies tell the ranchiest jokes! Total shocker.

11. Always carry your camera. You never know what moments you may want to capture.

12. Never judge packages by the outside wrapper.

13. Fireflies are magical.

14. Peanut butter and banana sandwiches are delicious. Elvis was right.

15. Nobody can give a hug like your grandmother.

16. It’s a bad thing to put salt on a slug. Or hurt any defenseless thing.

17. Black and white movies are the best.

18. How a guy relates to his Mom is how he will relate to you.

19. Models are photoshopped.

20. Men and women really aren’t that different. Ok, maybe that one is false…

21. Don’t take family for granted.

22. The older I get, the less I remember….start a journal.

23. Travel is the best education.

24. Education is overrated, but not travel.

25. Get a written copy of your granny’s recipes!

26. Spooning is the second best part of marriage.

27. Don’t judge.

28. Do something every so often that scares you!

29. Bowling is not a sport.

30. Listen more, talk less.

31. Art is priceless.

32. Everyone has a story.

33. Grey hair is sexy.

34. The Star Spangled Banner is hard to sing, however, it always gives me goosebumps.

35. Never “kill time”. It is the stuff life is made of.

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Shutter Island? Northern Japan!

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What a Big Buddha!

On a recent road trip to Amori, Tony and I took a side trip to view the thrid largest Buddha in Japan. Yes, it is big, really, really big!

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