Sunday, June 29, 2008

Whelp it was time for a break and time to get out of the Tsubame/Yahiko area. So Bridget and I left on the train to go norht to Shibata. We had a two hour lay over in Niitsu which means next time we go we can sleep in and catch the next train with out a rush. But we enjoyed catching up and honestly it's just really nice to get some gab time in.
Finally we made it to Shibata, it's a pretty city. We got out our maps and despite several gaijin moments and making several cirlces we finally got to the Ayami family castles in Shibata! I'll let the pamphlets tell you a little about it.
"Shibata city flourished as a castle town in the Edo Period and still has many cultural heritages...."
"Construction of Shibata Castle was started in 1598 by the first clan leader, Mizoguchi Hidekatsu, and was completed in 1654. After that, Shibata's plitics, economy and culture flourished. The Omote mon gate and Sumi yagura turret remain from the old days are are disgnates as important national properties. Th wall outside the turrets, called Namako kabe, is waterproof. The stone wall is made of regular piled stones in the manner of Kirimoihagi. In recent years, requests to restore Shibata castle to its original state increased. As a result, the Tatsumi yagura turret and Sangai yagura turret were restored in 2004".
After that we went to an amazing museum: Fukiya Koji Memorial Museum, I loved the work! It was so rad and just the time period in illustration that I love as well.
"Fukiya Koji was born in Shibata in 1898. He was a famous lyrical painter and he was also an active as an illustrator and poet".(His illustrations where sooo rad!)

There are also really neet gardens and a bunch of other stuff to see but we got pretty worn out walking all over trying to find some of the stuff. We'll just have to go back again...oh darn. YAY!

Saturday, June 14, 2008

This is the Maki Summer festival.
Briget and I decided to have our selves a little roam around and check out the parade. It started with kids from the surrounding middle schools playing their band instruments, then went to different children's groups of traditional dancing, on to adult traditional Japanese dancing. All the dances where neet. My favorite where the two guys that makes the head of the dragon dance, those are always amazing! There's an illustrative story that seems to unfold as he dances the head of the dragon.

When it came time for the fireworks a darling little old lady helped us, rather led us to the prime seating for the show. She's 80 years old, just as sweet as kittens! We talked for a little while but she left. She noticed that it was getting cold and neither of us had brought our jackets or coats. So she went back to her house and brought us two coats each, one to put on and one to cover our legs like a blanket! She was just the sweetest little lady ever! I love little old Japanese ladies!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Sports Day

Today was totally sugoi! It was sports day so the students get to compete in different activities for the sports day title. It's like field day in elem. school but more crazy. What's really cool is that it isn't just judged on sports alone. Here are a few categories to give you an idea.
Tug of War, Costumes, Relays(running), Performance (team dance), Battle Horse, Conquerer, Obstacles courses, Storyboarding and some others. So Sports Day isn't just about Sports, it meets a wider group of interests and interestingly a huge amount of team cooperation and cordination. I was very impressed. The genk level was through the roof (I wish Sanjo could somehow pass on some of that genk to my other schools)
OK, so I won't bore you with all the details but I want to give a littler overview of my two favorite games that we are not so familiar with here in the US.

Battle Horse: This game is only for the girls on the teams. Just for the Ladies. Basically, Three girls are holding up one girl about to their shoulders. The three girls are the "horse". The one being held up by the horse is the rider of course and each rider has a bandana. There are about 6-7 horses per team a long with a captain. The horses ride toward the others and the riders try to take the bandanas from the other girl riders. Who ever has the most after a certai amount of time are the winners. However if the Captain's bandana is taken the game imediatley ends. So a blank is shot and all the horses charge across the field and the riders have at it with the other players. Talk about girl fight(cat fight) I mean arms winging and flailing and screaming and squeeling and pushing and shoving and all sorts of chaos it was absolutely fantastic. It made me want to play really badly. (But if I play I want to include mud somewhere in the game, like it's ok the throw it and try to distract other riders) Anyhooo it was sooooo hilarious to watch all the girls go seriously at it with their little white gloves on and all. I totally think we need to adopt this game.
Conquerer: This is a boys only game. It gets a little too violent for the ladies however from the looks of Battle Horse I bet they'd be a pretty fair competition integrated into the male teams. ANYHOOo. It's a boys only game. Which means that for Japanese guys you strip down to your little sport shorts and get fierce. Across maybe one half of a football field are the teams polls. A huge, thick wooden pole is held up by half the members of one team. At the top of this huge, tall pole is a flag. The other team is trying to get this down. So half of the team will try to protect their flag by protecting the pole and keeping it up and the other half will try to get the opposing teams flag. So again the shot is fired and they run at each other and straight into the grounds of the opposing team. But these guys are jumping on each other and literally crawling on each other to climb up the pole to get the flag. Some are so good at keeping the pole up that despite some one climbing the pole and trying to pull it down, the pole stays standing. Holy Cow this game was insane and the amount of injuries that came out of it where too many to count. I mean brutal, it was fascinating to watch the all out brawl and climbing and jumping on eachothers backs to get high enough over the opposing team to get to the pole and thus on to take the flag. Whaoo, it was really cool to watch. We should adopt this as well.
These where my two favorite to watch. There where tons of really cool things all day. The students did an amazing job and worked sooooo hard at putting it all together. Sports Day is completely and independently put together by the students and they did amazing. I had a blast today.

Plus I get to go to another Sports Day on Thursday, whoot. I'll bet Sanjo's the best though, nothing like a hardy game of reality like "Conquerer" and "Battle Horse".

Saturday, June 7, 2008

This is some of the cute fabric and ribbon-strip things that I got recently. Today I went with Tanabe and to visit another lady from church and she just so happens to be an ace of a semstress and has an two sewing machines in her studio in Higashi Sanjo. She said I could come by any time and use the machine!!! DUDE!! I'm sooo stoked. But I'll need to look into the stores in Niigata because there is only one here and it's pretty dang small, I may need a few more options. PLUS! I saw on display at the craft store here (Tokai) a cute little change purse basically make from a zipper and ribbon so I really want to try one of those out but heck no on my severe over priced ribbon with the pink elephants and bubbles (that is my ultimate favorite one, next to the houses and nesting dolls) Anyhoo I'm soo dang stoked I want to sew sooo bad!

Plus here's a little peak at my other little "activity" I've picked up with the spray paint. It's not necessarily good or anything just really fun and enjoyable. I don't really know what do to with them yet but I'm making a book out of a couple. It's just really fun.
Also this lady, is the prelim for a comic idea I have. I've got a basic little story planned out but the end is not really clear. I guess it's along the lines of Beatrice Potter if she where Japanese and me. That just got wierd, plus I might just throw some Khalo in there too because who does love Frida to death like me!