Showing posts from 2011

Santa Samurai - Merry Christmas and Happy Seppuku!

Santa Samurai wishing you and yours a Merry Christmas and a Happy Seppuku! May you find the heads of your enemies gathered underneath your Christmas Bonsai Tree!

With my Candy Cane Katana I deal sweet pepperminty death to my unsavory foes

Remembering The Great War - WWI (Veterans' Day/Armistice Day)

Remembering the ‘Great War’ 
Nov. 11 marks 90th anniversary of WWI’s end
Trench warfare – static and deadly – became the norm for most of World War I “Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs,
And towards our distant rest began to trudge.
Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots,
But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame, all blind;
Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots
Of gas-shells dropping softly behind.”
Wilfred Owen – died 1918 Ninety years ago at the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month the great guns fell silent and Europe experienced a silence it had not known in years. It was the end of the “Great War,” the War to end all Wars. Today, we know that was a hopeful but futile sentiment as the War to end all Wars is now known as World War I. Two bullets and a lost driver set off a powder keg whose explosion engulfed Europe. In the summer of 1914, a dri…

Halloween 2011 Scenes from Tokyo

Some random scenes of Halloween craziness in Tokyo mainly from that notorious den of sin, Roppongi. Lots of great costumes and fun spirit!

Japanese Ghost Stories - The Demon's Arm (The Ogre of Rashomon)

This story is a version of the Ogre of Rashomon as the story is named in Yei Theodora Ozaki’s Japanese Fairy Tales. I however refer to the titular creature as a demon based on the Japanese word “oni” which is demon/devil.

Rashomon is a gate that once stood in Kyoto that lapsed into disrepair and became a place of ill repute. According to legend a demon took up residence there and snatched up passer-bys. Eventually it bit off more than it could chew when it tried to grab a samurai.

The photos were taken by me of the temple gate of Zojo-ji Temple in Tokyo, a shot of a float from the Nebuta festival of Aomori showing a samurai fighting a demon (Raiko and Shuten-doji), and a depiction of the story on a float at the Neputa Festival in Hirosaki, Aomori Prefecture. The other images are 19th Century woodblock (ukiyoe) prints.

Ninja vs Samurai at Japanese Festival (Nagoya Matsuri)

The age-old question of "Ninja vs Samurai - who would win?" was tackled recently at Nagoya Matsuri in a fight between a blue-clad ninja (a Smurf ninja?) and an armor-wearing samurai. The results may surprise you; however with Ninja, things are not always as they seem...

Post-Tsunami view of Ishinomaki in Miyagi Prefecture

Ishinomaki in Miyagi Prefecture is one of the town that was hit hard by the tsunami which followed the earthquake on March 11, 2011. I was passing thru 5 months afterwards and still the stark grim reminders remain of what happened that day.

Later that evening I went to Sendai the capital of Miyagi which had also gotten hit that day. It was the kick-off of their big Tanabata festival which they do with a big fireworks display. It was good to see the people out and about enjoying themselves - they had cancelled some other festivals in previous months. It showed me that the Tohoku area will pull itself through the disaster with their indomitable spirit. Ganebaremasu!

Kemari - Ancient Japanese Soccer/Football

"Kemari is hardly a stately sport, being quite boisterous and rough, but much depends after all on where it is played and who plays it."
- Murasaki Shikibu, The Tale of Genji, 11th Century

Kemari is an ancient Japanese sport originally from China which is a mix of soccer/football and hacky sack. Players try to keep the ball in air by using various parts of their body except the hands. The ball called "mari" is made of deer and horse skin.

The players were a type of clothing reminiscent of the style of the Asuka Period or 6th-7th century Japan when Kemari was first introduced to the country. They wear a specially designed leather shoe which they can even wear on wooden floors where usually normal footwear is removed.
Kemari is a unique sport in that there aren't any winners or losers but rather it's a group activity where the individual players' skill and dexterity adds to the ability of the group to keep the ball aloft as long as they can. Thus kemari is a…