Category Archives: Festivals

Gion Festival in Yoshiwara, Fuji City (2016) 6): The O-Mikoshi/Portable Shrines!

Every year on the second week-end of June a very old Japanese Festival is held in Yoshiwara/吉原 in Fuji City/富士市 called Yoshiwara Gion Festival/吉原祇園祭り.
Although it is a well-known festival in Our Prefecture, it seems they welcome more visitors from Tokyo than from Shizuoka City!
A great pity indeed!
I was able at last to witness it, that is part of it as I had to unfortunately come back early in the evening missing the floats parade.
I still manage quite a few pictures to give a good idea of what to enjoy next year!
As there are too many photos for a single report I divided them according to their genre or subject.
This sixth one is about the O-Mikoshi!

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Small O-Mikoshi, probably for children to carry along!

O-Mikoshi/御神輿 is an integral part of Japanese Festivals as the latter are usually related to the Shinto religion. They can be roughly translated as portable shrines and they are usually stored inside Shinto Shrines all year long to be taken out on the day of the Shrine Festivals or on other Festivals.

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These can be relatively small or near enormous.
The one used during the Yoshiwara Gion Festival needs at least 20 strong men to carry along the streets of Yoshiwara!

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In other Festivals you will sometimes notice ladies helping with carrying, but in Yoshiwara only men are allowed to!

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The reason to carry and shake an O-Mikoshi around is to wake up the deity inside and make him/her happy enough to dispense his/her benevolence onto worshipers!

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The carrying around of the O-Mikoshi will take all afternoon as all the 21 Districts will take care of it in turns!

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The worshipers bowing in love and respect before carrying their deity around!

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The men may do the carrying but the ladies are always near wit water and sake!

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Smiling under the stress!

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Starting to feel the strain!

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But certainly not giving up!

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The next District team bow to the O-Mikoshi while the Kannushi/神主/Shinto priest goes through his rituals to bless the portable shrine and his bearers!

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Each district will contribute its own gifts and sake! Bear in mind that “sake”‘s original meaning is “Food of the Gods”!

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Very serious about it!

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Sake is then poured onto the shrine!
The “sasa/笹/a kind of bamboo tied to the shrine in the Yoshiwara fashion will be taken off branch by branch by the carriers to stay in their home until the next Festival for luck and prosperity!

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Of late foreigners take part in such festivals and Yoshiwara Gion Festival is no exception. There no less than three of them for this particular district!

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But all the shouting was done in Japanese!

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The bare-chested carriers belong to the local judo club. Others wear shirts mimicking the tattoos of bearers of old!

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Another expat sweating along!

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Grimacing under the effort!

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The last spurt!

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See you again next year!

RECOMMENDED RELATED WEBSITES

So Good Sushi Restaurant in Nice France
Navigating Nagoya by Paige, Shop with Intent by Debbie, BULA KANA in Fiji, Kraemer’s Culinary blog by Frank Kraemer in New York,Tokyo Food File by Robbie Swinnerton, Green Tea Club by Satoshi Nihonyanagi in Shizuoka!, Mind Some by Tina in Taiwan, Le Manger by Camille Oger (French), The Indian Tourist, Masala Herb by Helene Dsouza in Goa, India, Mummy I Can Cook! by Shu Han in London, Pie
rre.Cuisine
, Francescannotwrite, My White Kitchen, Foodhoe, Chucks Eats, Things that Fizz & Stuff, Five Euro Food by Charles,Red Shallot Kitchen by Priscilla,With a Glass, Nami | Just One Cookbook, Peach Farm Studio, Clumsyfingers by Xethia, PepperBento, Hapabento, Kitchen Cow, Lunch In A Box, Susan at Arkonlite, Vegan Lunch Box; Tokyo Tom Baker, Daily Food Porn/Osaka, Only Nature Food Porn, Happy Little Bento, J-Mama’s Kitchen, Cook, Eat, Play, Repeat, Bento Lunch Blog (German), Adventures In Bento, Anna The Red’s Bento Factory, Ohayo Bento,

Must-see tasting websites:

-Sake: Ichi For The Michi by Rebekah Wilson-Lye in Tokyo, Tokyo Through The Drinking Glass, Tokyo Foodcast, Urban Sake, Sake World
-Wine: Palate To Pen, Warren Bobrow, Cellar Tours, Ancient Fire Wines Blog
-Beer: Another Pint, Please!, Beering In Good Mind: All about Craft Beer in Kansai by Nevitt Reagan!
ABRACADABREW, Magical Craftbeer from Japan
-Whisky: Nonjatta: All about whisky in Japan by Stefan Van Eycken
-Japanese Pottery to enjoy your favourite drinks: Yellin Yakimono Gallery

Non gastronomy must-see sites by Shizuoka Residents

HIGHOCTANE/HAIOKU by Nick Itoh in Shizuoka City

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Gion Festival in Yoshiwara, Fuji City (2016) 5): The Floats!

Every year on the second week-end of June a very old Japanese Festival is held in Yoshiwara/吉原 in Fuji City/富士市 called Yoshiwara Gion Festival/吉原祇園祭り.
Although it is a well-known festival in Our Prefecture, it seems they welcome more visitors from Tokyo than from Shizuoka City!
A great pity indeed!
I was able at last to witness it, that is part of it as I had to unfortunately come back early in the evening missing the floats parade.
I still manage quite a few pictures to give a good idea of what to enjoy next year!
As there are too many photos for a single report I divided them according to their genre or subject.
This fifth one is about the floats!

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It was a bit unfortunate I had to leave before the festival floats were due to go out on the streets just before the night set with all the lanterns alight and drummers and revelers riding them.
Well, that will be my goal next year!
At least I walked around to gather some information.
My steps brought me into the Minami/South District where one of them was standing in its hangar.

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I noticed the sake barrel and bottle and I was told that each of the 21 districts parading its float had its own barrel and bottles markd with the name of their district. All sake is honjozo brewed by Makino Brewery in Fujinomiya City (there hasn’t been a sake brewery in the City of Fuji for quite a long time!).

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The Minami District float inside its shelter/hangar!

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Carved Dragon!

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The float from the Moku District San Chome!

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What is that fierce deity?

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The float from the Rokken District!

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Kintaroo, the legendary hero!

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Looking after Mount Fuji!

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Lion guards!

Next year I will concentrate on these floats at night!
Promise!

RECOMMENDED RELATED WEBSITES

So Good Sushi Restaurant in Nice France
Navigating Nagoya by Paige, Shop with Intent by Debbie, BULA KANA in Fiji, Kraemer’s Culinary blog by Frank Kraemer in New York,Tokyo Food File by Robbie Swinnerton, Green Tea Club by Satoshi Nihonyanagi in Shizuoka!, Mind Some by Tina in Taiwan, Le Manger by Camille Oger (French), The Indian Tourist, Masala Herb by Helene Dsouza in Goa, India, Mummy I Can Cook! by Shu Han in London, Pie
rre.Cuisine
, Francescannotwrite, My White Kitchen, Foodhoe, Chucks Eats, Things that Fizz & Stuff, Five Euro Food by Charles,Red Shallot Kitchen by Priscilla,With a Glass, Nami | Just One Cookbook, Peach Farm Studio, Clumsyfingers by Xethia, PepperBento, Hapabento, Kitchen Cow, Lunch In A Box, Susan at Arkonlite, Vegan Lunch Box; Tokyo Tom Baker, Daily Food Porn/Osaka, Only Nature Food Porn, Happy Little Bento, J-Mama’s Kitchen, Cook, Eat, Play, Repeat, Bento Lunch Blog (German), Adventures In Bento, Anna The Red’s Bento Factory, Ohayo Bento,

Must-see tasting websites:

-Sake: Ichi For The Michi by Rebekah Wilson-Lye in Tokyo, Tokyo Through The Drinking Glass, Tokyo Foodcast, Urban Sake, Sake World
-Wine: Palate To Pen, Warren Bobrow, Cellar Tours, Ancient Fire Wines Blog
-Beer: Another Pint, Please!, Beering In Good Mind: All about Craft Beer in Kansai by Nevitt Reagan!
ABRACADABREW, Magical Craftbeer from Japan
-Whisky: Nonjatta: All about whisky in Japan by Stefan Van Eycken
-Japanese Pottery to enjoy your favourite drinks: Yellin Yakimono Gallery

Non gastronomy must-see sites by Shizuoka Residents

HIGHOCTANE/HAIOKU by Nick Itoh in Shizuoka City

Gion Festival in Yoshiwara, Fuji City (2016) 3): The “Faces”!

Every year on the second week-end of June a very old Japanese Festival is held in Yoshiwara/吉原 in Fuji City/富士市 called Yoshiwara Gion Festival/吉原祇園祭り.
Although it is a well-known festival in Our Prefecture, it seems they welcome more visitors from Tokyo than from Shizuoka City!
A great pity indeed!
I was able at last to witness it, that is part of it as I had to unfortunately come back early in the evening missing the floats parade.
I still manage quite a few pictures to give a good idea of what to enjoy next year!
As there are too many photos for a single report I divided them according to their genre or subject.
This third one is about the “Faces”!

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Hefty members of the local judo community!

When you attend a typical Japanese festival it s always a good idea to take photographs working on the theme of the participants’ faces.
40 years or more ago that could have been a bit difficult as disreputable members of the Japanese society were more or less in control of such events, but nowadays Japan is so peaceful and bereft of sinister members that it has to actually mimic the latter whereas traditions are kept intact!

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Some of the senior members of the Festival!
I did ask them politely to look fierce but they just couldn’t help smiling at the notion!
Mind you, this is Shizuoka Prefecture, one of the most peaceful regions of the Japanese Archipelago!
Osaka and Kyushu Island denizens do look fierce there without being asked!

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A local lady ready to serve sake to the participants, especially the o-mikoshi/御神輿/portable shrine bearers!
I found out that each district had its own bottles of sake designed with a different label by Makino Brewery in Fujinomiya City!

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These gentle-looking portable shrine bearers gracefully agreed to pose with their bottle of sake!

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You do not see tattoo-exhibiting revelers any more and the body decorations have to be represented by special garments!
Actually the police these days would automatically apprehend or at least ask questions to people exhibiting tattoos in a provocative manner. Well, at least in Shizuoka Prefecture, following the demise of large underworld groups based in Fujinomiya City and Atami City!
But be somewhat careful in other regions!

RECOMMENDED RELATED WEBSITES

So Good Sushi Restaurant in Nice France
Navigating Nagoya by Paige, Shop with Intent by Debbie, BULA KANA in Fiji, Kraemer’s Culinary blog by Frank Kraemer in New York,Tokyo Food File by Robbie Swinnerton, Green Tea Club by Satoshi Nihonyanagi in Shizuoka!, Mind Some by Tina in Taiwan, Le Manger by Camille Oger (French), The Indian Tourist, Masala Herb by Helene Dsouza in Goa, India, Mummy I Can Cook! by Shu Han in London, Pie
rre.Cuisine
, Francescannotwrite, My White Kitchen, Foodhoe, Chucks Eats, Things that Fizz & Stuff, Five Euro Food by Charles,Red Shallot Kitchen by Priscilla,With a Glass, Nami | Just One Cookbook, Peach Farm Studio, Clumsyfingers by Xethia, PepperBento, Hapabento, Kitchen Cow, Lunch In A Box, Susan at Arkonlite, Vegan Lunch Box; Tokyo Tom Baker, Daily Food Porn/Osaka, Only Nature Food Porn, Happy Little Bento, J-Mama’s Kitchen, Cook, Eat, Play, Repeat, Bento Lunch Blog (German), Adventures In Bento, Anna The Red’s Bento Factory, Ohayo Bento,

Must-see tasting websites:

-Sake: Ichi For The Michi by Rebekah Wilson-Lye in Tokyo, Tokyo Through The Drinking Glass, Tokyo Foodcast, Urban Sake, Sake World
-Wine: Palate To Pen, Warren Bobrow, Cellar Tours, Ancient Fire Wines Blog
-Beer: Another Pint, Please!, Beering In Good Mind: All about Craft Beer in Kansai by Nevitt Reagan!
ABRACADABREW, Magical Craftbeer from Japan
-Whisky: Nonjatta: All about whisky in Japan by Stefan Van Eycken
-Japanese Pottery to enjoy your favourite drinks: Yellin Yakimono Gallery

Non gastronomy must-see sites by Shizuoka Residents

HIGHOCTANE/HAIOKU by Nick Itoh in Shizuoka City

Gion Festival in Yoshiwara, Fuji City (2016) 2): Fire Brigade Parade!

Every year on the second week-end of June a very old Japanese Festival is held in Yoshiwara/吉原 in Fuji City/富士市 called Yoshiwara Gion Festival/吉原祇園祭り.
Although it is a well-known festival in Our Prefecture, it seems they welcome more visitors from Tokyo than from Shizuoka City!
A great pity indeed!
I was able at last to witness it, that is part of it as I had to unfortunately come back early in the evening missing the floats parade.
I still manage quite a few pictures to give a good idea of what to enjoy next year!
As there are too many photos for a single report I divided them according to their genre or subject.
This second one is about the traditional Fire Brigade Parade!

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Firemen with hapi/festival coat emblazoned with “鮫/same/shark” as they represent a district callled “Samejima/Sharks Island” related with the fishing of sharks!

Fires being the scourge of old Japan, firemen were probably the most respected society group in those times, even more than any security or soldiering forces.
Most of them were more or less volunteer but they certainly had their say in the feudal Japanese society!

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The parade is led by two stern looking “officials” holding special metal stick they bang on the ground as they proceed forward!

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Interestingly enough they represent the whole of Fuji City!
I suspect those two officials are real fire brigade officers!
Although there are plenty of professional firemen in Japan, their work is helped by many volunteers!

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Each main secondary/district fire brigade is represented by a pole holder who agitates the “matoi/纏” as it is called up and down and in circles!

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Hard work which has to be regularly relayed!

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This particular matoi represents the whole city of Fuji!

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in spite of the festive occasion participants are all very serious about it!

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Now, these men carry scythes mounted on long poles.
At the time carrying water to a fire site would have taken too long, so the houses on fire were pulled down as soon as possible. Neighboring houses would suffer the same fate as to create a fire void!

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It must have been the most dangerous work of the time!

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And of course the whole important ladder made of two long green bamboo trunks which are practically impossible to burn!

Meet you there again next year!

RECOMMENDED RELATED WEBSITES

So Good Sushi Restaurant in Nice France
Navigating Nagoya by Paige, Shop with Intent by Debbie, BULA KANA in Fiji, Kraemer’s Culinary blog by Frank Kraemer in New York,Tokyo Food File by Robbie Swinnerton, Green Tea Club by Satoshi Nihonyanagi in Shizuoka!, Mind Some by Tina in Taiwan, Le Manger by Camille Oger (French), The Indian Tourist, Masala Herb by Helene Dsouza in Goa, India, Mummy I Can Cook! by Shu Han in London, Pie
rre.Cuisine
, Francescannotwrite, My White Kitchen, Foodhoe, Chucks Eats, Things that Fizz & Stuff, Five Euro Food by Charles,Red Shallot Kitchen by Priscilla,With a Glass, Nami | Just One Cookbook, Peach Farm Studio, Clumsyfingers by Xethia, PepperBento, Hapabento, Kitchen Cow, Lunch In A Box, Susan at Arkonlite, Vegan Lunch Box; Tokyo Tom Baker, Daily Food Porn/Osaka, Only Nature Food Porn, Happy Little Bento, J-Mama’s Kitchen, Cook, Eat, Play, Repeat, Bento Lunch Blog (German), Adventures In Bento, Anna The Red’s Bento Factory, Ohayo Bento,

Must-see tasting websites:

-Sake: Ichi For The Michi by Rebekah Wilson-Lye in Tokyo, Tokyo Through The Drinking Glass, Tokyo Foodcast, Urban Sake, Sake World
-Wine: Palate To Pen, Warren Bobrow, Cellar Tours, Ancient Fire Wines Blog
-Beer: Another Pint, Please!, Beering In Good Mind: All about Craft Beer in Kansai by Nevitt Reagan!
ABRACADABREW, Magical Craftbeer from Japan
-Whisky: Nonjatta: All about whisky in Japan by Stefan Van Eycken
-Japanese Pottery to enjoy your favourite drinks: Yellin Yakimono Gallery

Non gastronomy must-see sites by Shizuoka Residents

HIGHOCTANE/HAIOKU by Nick Itoh in Shizuoka City

Gion Festival in Yoshiwara, Fuji City (2016) 1): Kimono-clad Girls

Every year on the second week-end of June a very old Japanese Festival is held in Yoshiwara/吉原 in Fuji City/富士市 called Yoshiwara Gion Festival/吉原祇園祭り.
Although it is a well-known festival in Our Prefecture, it seems they welcome more visitors from Tokyo than from Shizuoka City!
A great pity indeed!
I was able at last to witness it, that is part of it as I had to unfortunately come back early in the evening missing the floats parade.
I still manage quite a few pictures to give a good idea of what to enjoy next year!
As there are too many photos for a single report I divided them according to their genre or subject.
This first one is about a rare occasion when young girls can enjoy the day wearing kimono, or more exactly yukata for many of them!

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Note the modern footwear!

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Hungry girls enjoying a treat!

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Little ones with a girl wearing traditional geta/下駄/wooden clogs!

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Definitely the more traditional kind!

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Enjoying shaved ice in the heat!

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Cold drinks in the shade!

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The modern kind? LOL

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Note the fans!

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Meet you there again next year!

RECOMMENDED RELATED WEBSITES

So Good Sushi Restaurant in Nice France
Navigating Nagoya by Paige, Shop with Intent by Debbie, BULA KANA in Fiji, Kraemer’s Culinary blog by Frank Kraemer in New York,Tokyo Food File by Robbie Swinnerton, Green Tea Club by Satoshi Nihonyanagi in Shizuoka!, Mind Some by Tina in Taiwan, Le Manger by Camille Oger (French), The Indian Tourist, Masala Herb by Helene Dsouza in Goa, India, Mummy I Can Cook! by Shu Han in London, Pie
rre.Cuisine
, Francescannotwrite, My White Kitchen, Foodhoe, Chucks Eats, Things that Fizz & Stuff, Five Euro Food by Charles,Red Shallot Kitchen by Priscilla,With a Glass, Nami | Just One Cookbook, Peach Farm Studio, Clumsyfingers by Xethia, PepperBento, Hapabento, Kitchen Cow, Lunch In A Box, Susan at Arkonlite, Vegan Lunch Box; Tokyo Tom Baker, Daily Food Porn/Osaka, Only Nature Food Porn, Happy Little Bento, J-Mama’s Kitchen, Cook, Eat, Play, Repeat, Bento Lunch Blog (German), Adventures In Bento, Anna The Red’s Bento Factory, Ohayo Bento,

Must-see tasting websites:

-Sake: Ichi For The Michi by Rebekah Wilson-Lye in Tokyo, Tokyo Through The Drinking Glass, Tokyo Foodcast, Urban Sake, Sake World
-Wine: Palate To Pen, Warren Bobrow, Cellar Tours, Ancient Fire Wines Blog
-Beer: Another Pint, Please!, Beering In Good Mind: All about Craft Beer in Kansai by Nevitt Reagan!
ABRACADABREW, Magical Craftbeer from Japan
-Whisky: Nonjatta: All about whisky in Japan by Stefan Van Eycken
-Japanese Pottery to enjoy your favourite drinks: Yellin Yakimono Gallery

Non gastronomy must-see sites by Shizuoka Residents

HIGHOCTANE/HAIOKU by Nick Itoh in Shizuoka City

Kanaya Tea Festival 2016!

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At last, after a two-year interval, I could enjoy the Tea Festival in Kanaya, Shimada City, although my visit was definitely too short to my taste. In 2018, I will definitely stay there at least a full day and a full night!

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Ladies’ power!

This year I almost reached Kanaya too early, but it gave me time to appreciate that the city and its inhabitants are trying their best every two years!
Let me at least introduce their event in pictures!

THE GROUPS & THE CLANS!

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Taking pictures is an embarrassment of choices, especially considering the universal goodwill and fun-loving spirit!
The rick is probably to sort your pictures according to themes!

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An orange chariot rider team!

The city is basically divided into 6 traditional precincts dating back to Edo Era and each has its own festival chariots manned and introduced by teams residing in their respective areas!

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The third precinct “guard”!

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A white and violet chariot rider team!

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A motley chariot handler team!

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The 6th Precinct “Guard”!

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The younger generation “Guard”!

THE CHARIOTS!

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The Chariots, called “Yatai”, is the main event and performed twice, once at noon and another time after dark!

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Each chariot carried its own drummers and flutists encouraging the handlers and riders!

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Each chariot was ridden by comparatively light men whose role was toe encourage the handlers!

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Naturally the same vocal and whistling encouragements amplified when two chariots got near to each other!

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And all the while the drummers keep drumming, drumming and drumming!

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All chariots seem to barely be able to pass under the telephone cables!

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Actually they had more trouble avoiding the traffic lights than each other!

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Handlers kept smiling all the time!
For all their fierce faces, fights are extremely rare between handlers of different chariots.
Even when it happens especially at night when everyone tends to imbibe as well, older organizers are very quick to handle any troublemakers without the help of policemen who are practically unseen!

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There was still a long day to come and participants were obviously saving some energy!

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Actually most were looking forward to the night when their hand lanterns would be lit!

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Move, move!

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The wheels are actually heavy wood logs that turn slowly and handlers need to push the chariots forward or sideways with long poles while more handlers were pulling the vehicles with heavy ropes!

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All in good humor!

THE FACES!

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All participants have two years to prepare themselves and some @faces@ are really worth photographing!
I actually know the gentleman above who is a truck driver!

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These two are actually senior cadres in the festival!

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Flaming guy!

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Mother and son!

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Always extremely happy to pose, especially with cute foreign ladies!

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The beauties and the beasts?

THE “TEA LADIES/CHA MUSUME”!

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But the Kanaya Tea Festival is known all over Japan for all the ladies of whatever age parading as the “Cha Musume/Tea Ladies”!

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All the members of the so-called “weak gender” are local!

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No age limit!

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Some of them are even carried along!

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No less than a thousand of them!

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See you again in 2018, but at night!

RECOMMENDED RELATED WEBSITES

So Good Sushi Restaurant in Nice France
Navigating Nagoya by Paige, Shop with Intent by Debbie, BULA KANA in Fiji, Kraemer’s Culinary blog by Frank Kraemer in New York,Tokyo Food File by Robbie Swinnerton, Green Tea Club by Satoshi Nihonyanagi in Shizuoka!, Mind Some by Tina in Taiwan, Le Manger by Camille Oger (French), The Indian Tourist, Masala Herb by Helene Dsouza in Goa, India, Mummy I Can Cook! by Shu Han in London, Pie
rre.Cuisine
, Francescannotwrite, My White Kitchen, Foodhoe, Chucks Eats, Things that Fizz & Stuff, Five Euro Food by Charles,Red Shallot Kitchen by Priscilla,With a Glass, Nami | Just One Cookbook, Peach Farm Studio, Clumsyfingers by Xethia, PepperBento, Hapabento, Kitchen Cow, Lunch In A Box, Susan at Arkonlite, Vegan Lunch Box; Tokyo Tom Baker, Daily Food Porn/Osaka, Only Nature Food Porn, Happy Little Bento, J-Mama’s Kitchen, Cook, Eat, Play, Repeat, Bento Lunch Blog (German), Adventures In Bento, Anna The Red’s Bento Factory, Ohayo Bento,

Must-see tasting websites:

-Sake: Ichi For The Michi by Rebekah Wilson-Lye in Tokyo, Tokyo Through The Drinking Glass, Tokyo Foodcast, Urban Sake, Sake World
-Wine: Palate To Pen, Warren Bobrow, Cellar Tours, Ancient Fire Wines Blog
-Beer: Another Pint, Please!, Beering In Good Mind: All about Craft Beer in Kansai by Nevitt Reagan!
ABRACADABREW, Magical Craftbeer from Japan
-Whisky: Nonjatta: All about whisky in Japan by Stefan Van Eycken
-Japanese Pottery to enjoy your favourite drinks: Yellin Yakimono Gallery

Non gastronomy must-see sites by Shizuoka Residents

HIGHOCTANE/HAIOKU by Nick Itoh in Shizuoka City

The 3 Big Shimada City Festivals in 2016 and Beyond 3: Shimada Oo Matsuri-島田大祭

The Shimada Oo Matsuri-島田大祭, also called Shimada Obi Matsuri-島田帯祭, is a rare Festival as it is held only every three years, therefore 2016 will be most important for Festivals in Shimada City when all three big Festivals will be held, an occurrence one can enjoy only every 6 years!

Thanks to the Daimyou Gyouretsu/大名行列/Lord Parade featuring the sash saber dancers, it has been officially named one of the so-called three most unusual festivals in Japan!
It will be held in 2016 on Saturday, October 8th, Sunday October 9th and Monday October 10th (the latter being a national Holiday)!

This also becomes an incredible chance for photographers who will not have enough of the three days that the Festival lasts!
Let me at least give them an introductory guide to expand at will for superb photography!

“Happi/半被” or Festival Coats!

“Happi/半被” could be translated as half coats and which are usually worn at Festivals or special occasions to show to which group you belong!
But there are also purely artistic Happi!

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A classical design with a lion!

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Another classical happi with a prawn motif at the top!

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A more artistic happi with a stylized Kabuki Theater Face Painting!

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Samurai Fight!

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The broken mask of a Goblin/Oni called “Han Ya” in Noh Theater!

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River-crossing Lady! That is the very Ooi River in Shimada City!

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A Phoenix, a Winged Horse/Pegasus and a Turtle in front of a red Mount Fuji!

Faces of Men!

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Behave yourself at Festival or I’ll get at you!

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My good friend Hisatsugu Umehara/梅原詞さん who has been helping the fourth district (there are no less than 7 organizing the whole festival!) for the 7th time in a row! (Multiply by 3=18 years!)

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Don’t touch the sake without my permission!

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One cup of sake per person only! Understood?

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Easy hairstyles?

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This chap would have been a hit with Medieval European ladies!

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When you grow older, whiter and less abundant, sport a beard!

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11 am and already happily drinking!
Great smiles!

Faces of Ladies!

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The cutest ladies at the festival? Definitely the most serious about it!

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Flaming hair!

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These two ladies selling at a food stand were certainly having a good time!

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The color of their hair is a sign of their seriousness!

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We’ll see many more of these with such grand hairstyles!

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Looking after the younger generation.

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My favorite picture!

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Tigerish hairstyle?

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I’m so bleeding tired…..

The Kids!

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The best picture of the day!

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Teaching by example?

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So well-behaved!

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Aren’t we beautiful?

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These are tough kids who had to walk no less than 1.7 km a day for 3 days in a row!
Also very tough for the parents who walked behind in holiday finery!

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Note the mothers following their kids in 30 degrees Celsius heat!

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Horse Lord !

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Horse Lord !

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The festival chariots also served as dancing stages where incredibly clad kids form 4 to 9 years old performed traditional Japanese dances to the sound of instruments and singers’ voices!

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The dancers had to be carried on a strong man’s back up onto and down form the stages!

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Dancing genius!

The Food Stands!

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Brochettes, brochettes, brochettes!

At any Festival worth its salt the Japanese take for granted what becomes nothing less than a giant BBQ!

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Charcoal-grilled “ayame” trouts!

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Naturally, sausages are a must!

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It is also a good time to sample specialties from all over Japan: Oita (Kyushu) style stir-fried chicken!

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Hiroshima-style noodles, pasta, Yaki, Okonmiyaki!

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Yakitori!

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Tai Yaki (seabream-shaped pancakes containing anko/sweet meat beans) for the kids and sweet teeth!

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Spicy stir-fried chicken!

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Osaka-style takoyaki/dumplings containing octopus!

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These particular charcoal-grilled sausages and pork brochetttes stand had a constant 20-people queue stretching in front of it!

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Oden! A shizuoka specialty!

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Kawane green tea!
Shizuoka produces more than 45% of all green tea in Japan!

The “Clash” of the Chariots!

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Make way!

Do come early in the day to watch the clash of the chariots (not real floats) and all its fun!

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Dai Nikai Yatai/Second district Chariot

The Chariots/Yatai seen during the Shimada Obi Festival are chariots more than floats.
Shimada City counts seven districts, Dai/第 Ichi, Ni, san, Yon, Go, Roku and Nana Kai/街.
The first six districts look after their own chariot which is also used as theater platform where plays are enacted by local kids.
The seventh district is in charge of the Lord Parade/Daimyou Gyooretsu!

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The “movers”!

Although the chariots are mounted on wheels, these same wheels are more of wood and metal and are fixed to the frame. They do not roll!
One main reason for that is that a free-wheeling chariot is just too unstable to control.
Hence the armies of “movers”!

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Now, this is tough work to ensure three days in a row!

Each “mover” is armed with a long pole made of a solid tree trunk cut at a slant at its base.
The poles will be used to lift and push the chariots from any side as thick tree trunks are fixed to the bottom frame just above ground!

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Whereas at other times of the day the chariots will become the theater stages, in the morning they are paraded along the main street to the sounds of drum and Japanese fife players sitting inside!

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The rope pullers of the Dai Ni Kai!

On the other hand teams of young men will pull the chariots with long ropes to help move forward.
But when it comes to moving sideways the “movers” will take care of the show!

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The “cheerleaders” standing on the roof, sticks in hands!
Notice that they are all light-weight!

 

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Start the drums!

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The “clash” is beginning!
Actually it is all carefully planned banter.
The two chariots “riders” will scream at each other to leave the way or move aside.
There will be no real fight in spite of the very “serious” faces of the participants.
But in the rare occasion when the chariots do hit each other by accident older members will immediately run between the handlers and shout them away from each other in no uncertain words!
The police is invisible at such times and the citizens handle themselves!

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The “riders” guiding the “pullers” and Movers” sideways to the sounds of sticks and whistles!

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C’mon guys! Let’s go with it!

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Move aside, will ya!

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It is the turn of the riders to frantically scream at each other while directing their respective chariots!

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Very little leeway, I can assure you!

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All the time the fans’ fans in a frenzy!

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Safely through, but look at those “stares”!

Daimyou Gyouretsu-The Lord Parade!

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The Sabres Dancer!

The finale of the day(s)!

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The Daimyou Gyouretsu/大名行列 is the sole responsibility of the Dai Nana Kai/第七街/Seventh District and comes last after all the chariots, stage dancers and parades have come through since 8:30 a.m. They usually start between 13:00 and 14:30 depending on the day.

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They are very strict about the organisation and young members ensure that there isn’t the slightest impediment.

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The “leaders” are extremely proud of their prerogatives, even by Japanese standards.
This is after all the aristocratic part of the festival and in Edo times they were far more obvious about their power and authority as the local Lord and his retainers paraded for real!

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The lancers!

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The Lord’s mark of authority carried inside portable boxes! Heavy stuff actually!

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The archers!

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Kids have also taken the place of the Lord and his sons on horses!
And horse handlers are now ladies!

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At least these kids are not taking it all too seriously!

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The Overlord was pulled along atop a small float.

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Bow to the Lord!

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At last the ones all had been waiting!
The Sabre dancers!
This very feature gives the unique name and fame of this festival in the whole of Japan!
Enormous obi/sashes are wrapped around giant swords secured by sashes around the dancers’ waists.

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All the dancers carry different obi/sashes wrapped around their swords.
The “apron” is also unique.
All are made of expensive silk. They carry a real fortune along which is is displayed only for three days every three years!
The Parade is a very expensive a affair to take charge of. Therefore it has been held every 3 years only for 107 times!

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The dancing is also a tough challenge along the 1.7 km ( 1 mile) main road which takes more than two hours.
To think they go through that three days in a row!

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The Dancers have to hold an umbrella (they certainly need it in the heat!) with one hand, make big waves with the other hand and raised the knees high with every step!

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Tough work to raise your knees under that heavy apron!

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Tough work too to raise your arm above the shoulder and make a circling wave back and forward!

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A well-earned rest!
Mind you, even in such a sitting position it must be tough to carry all that finery along!

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Fortunately an army of handlers is there to give plenty of support, water and encouragements!

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One thing was sure, all had strong legs!
The dancers are basically different every three years as it is a very sought after honor!

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This particular dancer was very popular with the crowd as he took often the time to look and wink at them. Note the whiskers!

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A common feature to top-class Japanese Festivals, the “matoi” or firemen festival pole!

Waiting for you!

RECOMMENDED RELATED WEBSITES

So Good Sushi Restaurant in Nice France
Navigating Nagoya by Paige, Shop with Intent by Debbie, BULA KANA in Fiji, Kraemer’s Culinary blog by Frank Kraemer in New York,Tokyo Food File by Robbie Swinnerton, Green Tea Club by Satoshi Nihonyanagi in Shizuoka!, Mind Some by Tina in Taiwan, Le Manger by Camille Oger (French), The Indian Tourist, Masala Herb by Helene Dsouza in Goa, India, Mummy I Can Cook! by Shu Han in London, Pie
rre.Cuisine
, Francescannotwrite, My White Kitchen, Foodhoe, Chucks Eats, Things that Fizz & Stuff, Five Euro Food by Charles,Red Shallot Kitchen by Priscilla,With a Glass, Nami | Just One Cookbook, Peach Farm Studio, Clumsyfingers by Xethia, PepperBento, Hapabento, Kitchen Cow, Lunch In A Box, Susan at Arkonlite, Vegan Lunch Box; Tokyo Tom Baker, Daily Food Porn/Osaka, Only Nature Food Porn, Happy Little Bento, J-Mama’s Kitchen, Cook, Eat, Play, Repeat, Bento Lunch Blog (German), Adventures In Bento, Anna The Red’s Bento Factory, Ohayo Bento,

Must-see tasting websites:

-Sake: Ichi For The Michi by Rebekah Wilson-Lye in Tokyo, Tokyo Through The Drinking Glass, Tokyo Foodcast, Urban Sake, Sake World
-Wine: Palate To Pen, Warren Bobrow, Cellar Tours, Ancient Fire Wines Blog
-Beer: Another Pint, Please!, Beering In Good Mind: All about Craft Beer in Kansai by Nevitt Reagan!
ABRACADABREW, Magical Craftbeer from Japan
-Whisky: Nonjatta: All about whisky in Japan by Stefan Van Eycken
-Japanese Pottery to enjoy your favourite drinks: Yellin Yakimono Gallery

Non gastronomy must-see sites by Shizuoka Residents

HIGHOCTANE/HAIOKU by Nick Itoh in Shizuoka City