One of the things Japanese culture does amazingly well--and frequently--is
putting on a festival. There is a festival within easy travel
distance pretty much every weekened, no matter where one lives
in Japan. This page is a just a tiny sample.
Plum Blossom Festival (February) - Tachibana Town
Observe the Clueless Gaijin pounding mochi, a sweet, sticky treat
made from rice, and a staple activity of many festivals.
A tea-making demonstration
Hanabi (Fireworks) Festival (August) - Kurume City
Every August or September, Kurume City, in central Fukuoka Prefecture,
puts on the largest fireworks display in southern Japan. Imagine
the half a mile of riverbank crammed with a couple million (yes,
million) people watching a fireworks display that continues for
a solid two-and-a-half hours.
Bunraku Festival - Yame City
Bunraku is a kind of puppetry that originated in Japan during
the Edo Period. It's a very subtle and profound art form, combining
elements of Kabuki Theater with very intricate puppets.
These two kids sitting at either end of the stage is one of cutest
things I have ever seen.
I didn't understand a word of it. Neither did the Japanese woman
sitting beside me. But it was still amazing.
Aside from the puppet show, there was plenty else going on...
...including a local artisan demonstrating how to plate wood
carvings with gold leaf...
... which is a technique used in making buttsudan, Buddhist
shrines for the home.