Posts Tagged ‘festival’

Mure Gempei Stone Lantern Road in Takamatsu

Friday, October 22nd, 2010

The stone lantern festival takes place on Mure Gempei Road near Yashima in Takamatsu every August and September. In 2010 it was held from July 31st to September 20th.

mure gempei stone lanterns 19

Hundreds of stone lanterns light the street daily from dusk until 10pm. They are mostly outside people’s houses and it is completely free to view them. This is the 2010 English poster.

mure gempei stone lanterns 22

If you can’t read the details the nearest station is Yakuri is on the Kotoden Shido Line. If you are travelling on the JR Kotoku Line you can get off at Furutakamatsu-Minami station, but the walk will be further.

There are a large variety of lanterns, from elaborate to very simple ones like this face.

mure gempei stone lanterns 18

Quite a number of the lanterns had an animal theme. Here is a mouse waiting by some illuminated cheese.

mure gempei stone lanterns 13

Visitors who visited earlier in the month than I did were able to vote on their favourite lanterns and stone sculptures. The first prize was this dog looking up towards the light.

mure gempei stone lanterns 1stprize

Here are the 2nd and 3rd place winners.

mure gempei stone lanterns 2nd3rdprize

And the 4th and 5th placed lanterns. If you are wondering what the connection is between the moon and the rabbit, it is because of a Japanese folklore about a rabbit (Jade Rabbit) that lives on the moon.

mure gempei stone lanterns 4th5thprize

mure gempei stone lanterns 08

This fishing scene contains a real goldfish.

mure gempei stone lanterns 01

Powering all these lights must use a fair bit of electricity so they had some information about what they are doing to reduce the power consumption. They use solar panels to collect power during the day, and the lanterns are lit with LED lights.

mure gempei stone lanterns 09

The lanterns are made out of locally produced Aji stone. You can see some of the stone factories along the route.

mure gempei stone lanterns 10

mure gempei stone lanterns 24

mure gempei stone lanterns 25

If you fancy buying one of these stone lanterns you can. They have brochures that you can pick up listing the lanterns and the prices. Some are very expensive and can go for a several hundred thousand yen. Cheaper ones can be bought for under 50 thousand yen.

mure gempei stone lanterns 23

If that is too expensive for you there are stalls along the route selling smaller lights. There are also food and drink stalls.

mure gempei stone lanterns 17

If you are in Takamatsu during August and September then make sure you visit. You should allow an hour or two to walk along the road and back again. If you aren’t in Takamatsu at this time you can find a number of simpler stone lanterns by Tamamo Castle near the Sunport area of the city. Enjoy the rest of the photos.

mure gempei stone lanterns 12

mure gempei stone lanterns 00

mure gempei stone lanterns 21

mure gempei stone lanterns 14

mure gempei stone lanterns 15

mure gempei stone lanterns 16

mure gempei stone lanterns 20

Here is the link for the official Mure Gempei Road page.

Nagasaki Spirit Boat procession

Wednesday, September 29th, 2010

On the 15th August 2010 I watched the Nagasaki Spirit Boat procession (精霊流し). This event takes place every August, for people to mourn family members who have died in the past year. Despite sounding a bit gloomy it is actually a very lively event with colourful floats, firecrackers, clamouring gongs and shouting!

nagasaki spirit boat procession 3

We weren’t sure exactly where to find it so we asked at the tourist office and they helpfully marked the main locations on a map, and told us it would start at about 6pm, with the floats slowly making their way to the harbour. The below map shows roughly where it is. The red lines are the main routes, and the floats converge in the centre.

View Nagasaki Spirit Boat Procession 精霊流し in a larger map

We made our way to the area, and walked towards Shianbashi station. While walking we started hearing firecrackers. The decided to follow the explosions! Along the road were hundreds of exploded firecracker boxes.

nagasaki spirit boat procession 2

By following the explosions we found our first float, being carried by a group of macho looking men. On the front of most of the floats were photographs of the loved ones whose lives were being remembered. The participants believe that the spirits of the deceased will be sent to Sukhavati (Land of Bliss).

nagasaki spirit boat procession 1

The firecracker explosions were very, very loud. The different floats seemed to be competing with each other to see who could make the most noise.

Some of the floats were very heavy looking so needed a lot of people to carry them. In between carrying the floats and setting of firecrackers the participants took time to rest.

nagasaki spirit boat procession 4

The people setting off the firecrackers were mostly well behaved, but some of them set them off closer to the spectators than they should have. The marshals sometimes gave the participants a telling off.

nagasaki spirit boat procession 5

Some people seemed to take pride in keeping hold of the firecracker while it exploded. Probably not the safest thing to do! Others enjoyed throwing the exploding firecrackers at their fellow participants feet to make them jump up and down.

nagasaki spirit boat procession 6

nagasaki spirit boat procession 7

As we got nearer the harbour more and more floats appeared until there was a massive queue of floats leading to the water front.

nagasaki spirit boat procession 8

In the past people used to be able to release the floats into the water. These days what happens is the people leave their float in what looks like a ‘float car park’. A demolition crusher then picks the float off the ground, crushes it, and dumps it into a skip. A sad end for these floats – they look like they took a long time to build.

This is a fun festival to come and watch. Beware though – it is extremely loud, and the firecrackers and the small aerial fireworks that people were setting off (especially when it gets dark) could be dangerous, so stay on your guard.

Spirit Boat Video

Above is a 6 minute video of the event, you can watch it in up to 480p.