Festival of the traditional performing arts

The 876th "Kasuga-Wakamiya-Onmaturi"( Kasuga-Wakamiya -Shrine 's festival) was held on 15th to 18th in December in Nara city. This festival was started to pray saving people from hunger by heavy rain,flood or plagues and stability of the country. 
Kasuga-Wakamiya-Shrine is near Kasuga-Shrine and Gods of those two Shrines are  relative.

Ichi-no-torii...this is the first gate of the Kasuga-Shrine and parade or horse racing or yabusame are taken place on this approach to  Kasuga-shrine

 People with torches and scent purify the road in the dark on the 17th zero hour and the God of Wakamiya moves to the Otabisyo(a temporary place) from Wakamiya-shrine . I heard this is a mysterious ceremony.

Otabisho....the temporary palace of God of Kasuga-Wakamiya

From the noon, maidens in the service of a Shinto shrine or kids on horses or people wearing costume of various periods  parade in the city and go to the Otabisho. Yabusame (horseback archery) by kids or horse racing are taken place  at the approach to the shrine.

Maidens in the service of a Shinto shrine on horses

They(kids) performed Yabusame

Chigo...children take part in a festival of a shrine

Horse racing...they raced to the Otabisho.

They are players of traditional musical instruments maybe.

Attendants of the procession of daimyo(Japanese feudal lord)
Yabusame by a kid...he shot an arrow toward the target and the target of the board was broken into two perfectly.

This is also the ceremony of the old traditional performing arts.
There is a lawn stage in front of the temporary palace at Otabisho. Maidens in the service of a Shinto shrine dance Kagura( a kind of dance) or people who paraded dance Dengaku,Seino,Sarugaku,Bugaku(these are a kind of dance) on the lawn stage outside.
 These  old traditional performing arts are dedicated to the God Wakamiya for about 8hours.

There were the big earthquake and tunami of the eastern Japan and also the heavy flood in Oku-Yoshino-Kumano in this year. So they dedicated also another two dances to the God to pray their quick recovery .   Those two dances were performed  after an interval of 300 years.

Sarugaku...this developed into Noh or Kyougen

Big drum


They danced very slowly with gagaku

While I was watching it's getting colder and colder. Though I had a kairo(pocket body warmer), I gave up to see them around 8:00 PM. I heard it continues till around 10:30PM. I wanted to see this.( this was taken with youtube in 2008)

After all performance were over, God of Wakamiya goes back to the Kasuga-Wakamiya-Shrine by on the 18th zero hour.
People in Yamato (Nara prefecture) get together and take place this festival,wishing that God of Wakamiya is pleased to see their performances . And they pray the rich harvest of rice and people's happiness.

According to Kiyomizu-temple in Kyoto, a word reflects social condition in this year in Japan was 絆(ties, bond ). Big earthquake and tunami or radioactive contamination brought big harm. We saw  the people's ties, cordiality, love in the mess.
Though there are a lot of difficult problems in Japan, I wish they would be resolved faster and well.

and also I wish you have a merry Christmas and a happy new year.

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Indian Summer at Nara Park

I walked around Nara Park on one day of Indian summer. Nara park is a World Heritage Site and it takes about 20 minutes from my house by car. I met some children wearing kimono at Kasuga Shrine.  In Japan when boys are three years old and five years old and girls are three years old and seven years old, parents take them to a shrine to pray their happy growth on 15th in November. We call this custom 7.5.3.( Shichi-Go-San in Japanese) I also have taken my child to this Kasuga Shrine once.

a shrine gives Titose-ame( a rock candy)put in a paper bag that a left person is holding

As it's warmer this year than previous years, it's a bit earlier for colored leaves of maple or ginkgo.

There were ginkgo nuts in the tree. They ripened and smell.

Cherry trees  already have buds  with red leaves.

It has white nuts.


Persimmon is a specialty of Nara

Around there, many members of a painting club were sweeping their brushes across canvases or a lot of students for school trip and many foreigners were enjoying sightseeing or walking or feeding deers rice bran  crackers.
They leave about 1100 deers at large in Nara Park.

He can't have his lunch box as deers pressing food.

Deers gather to rice bran crackers

Syuriken were sold at a souvenir shop. This is a kind of sword.

Going though the Wood of Kasuga, I went in Todaiji Temple area.
Todaiji temple was build in A.D.745 by the emperor Syomu and it's the biggest wooden architecture in the world. The huge Buddha(14.7m in height) is sitting inside。
The Imperial Household Agency keeps many treasures in the storehouses that's called Syosoin in  Todaiji temple site. The treasures include paintings, calligraphies, carpentries, gold works, lacquer works, swords, potteries, glass works, musical instruments, masks etc. ancient arts. Nara is said the terminal of the Silk Road. So the treasures brought from the Silk Road are also included. A Japanese lute has mother-of-pearl work or a sword red jewels are embedded are very beautiful.
I saw a big ginkgo tree near Syosoin.

Snake gourd

A big ginkgo tree

Reflection of red leaves

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My Autumn trip in Prague, Cesky Krumlov, Vienna, Budapest

This time I traveled at Prague and Cesky Krumlov in the Czech Republic and Vienna in Austria and Budapest in Hungary.

The airport in Helsinki   We changed planes here.

Cesky Krumlov    The World Heritage Site
The view from the  Cesky Krumlov Castle

many marionettes were sold at the shops

The central square of Cesky Krumlov

Cesky krumlov Castle

Prague is said that it has 100 towers. Almost  roofs are dark orange that look lovely. Among  orange roofs  many towers,spires,steeples grow to sky and The Prague Castle soars over them. It's gorgeous view. Buildings built in a Gothic style,Baroque style, Art nouveau etc brought down and  the medieval remnant is seen here and there.

The Prague Castle

The City of Prague and the Karluv Bridge

The clock tower --- The two doors open and some kind of figures appear at the fixed time.

Cathedral Vita  It's inside  the wall of the Prague castle.

The St.Vaclav Crown This was used at the coronation ceremony of  Rudolf the Second of the Holy Roman Empire or Maria Theresia etc.  It's decorated by big sapphires or rubies  or pearls etc.

I met works by Mucha for the first time. I was interested in the mood his works have, especially "Princess Hyacinth"
I'm easy to get drunk even light beers but I didn't get drunk here. So I enjoyed them much.
Many shops of bohemian glasses or garnet jewels were observable.
Illumination in the night was a bit dark, I think. It's for energy saving like Japan?

"Princess hyacinth"

We got on a shuttle bus bound for the central station from the airport. There were no customer without us. So I asked to the driver to take us our hotel because the bus was supposed to pass near our hotel and go to the central station. The driver rejected at first but the place he stopped was in front of our hotel.
He was a kind person. But I didn't have proper money for tip, so I handed him all coins I had. But maybe it's small amount. As in Japan we don't have custom of tip, I get confused about the amount of money.
Powder tower

Prague at night

When I visited Vienna last summer, it was not opera season. But this time we could enjoyed an opera "La Traviata" at Wiener Staatsoper(Vienna State Opera House), Mozart piano concerto, Mahler at Musikverein( the concert hall) and an opera "La Tosca" at Magyar Allami Operhay( Budapest state opera theater).
Vivid voice of  Natalie Dessay( this is her voice but her voice on that day was better than this) in La Traviata was marvelous coloratura soprano I heard for the first time. It's  superb. It's so wonderful that  even I could understand its goodness.
We stayed Hotel Sacher for two nights. It's famous hotel for the movie " The third man" I heard  and cosy gorgeous ,in addition it is built opposite the Wiener Staatsoper( Vienna State Opera House). So it's convenient to visit   each other   after or before an opera.
Speaking to Sacher, it's famous for Sacher Torte ( chocolate torte),too. There was a struggle for original of chocolate torte  between Sacher and Demel. And the judgment was Sacher's winning. So we visited some cafes to taste tortes including Demel or Sacher. They all were delicious and delicious.

Vienna from  top of the  St.Stephansdom

Wiener Staatsoper

Karlsplatz Station

Musikverein( the concert hall of home of the Wiener Philharmonic Orchestra) The New Year concert by the Wiener Phil is held here.

Inside of the hall.  A lot of beautiful flowers are decorated at the New Year Concert.

 A cafe inside the art museum  The torte here was delicious,too.

The dome celling of the art museum there is a cafe on this celling

I appreciated Klimt's works in Belvedere Palace or other places closely. Many small flowers in the paintings casually fascinated me though much gold were used in his paintings.

Budapest is called " a pearl of Danube"
In Budapest, the grand Danube and illuminations of the Royal Palace or the Diet Building standing both side of Danube river and the Chain Bridge between both banks are highlight. So we booked a hotel room of Danube view.

Matyas temple in the morning

Budapest  and the Danube

The central market

The royal Palace lit up

The chain bridge over the tram station

The chain bridge from a night cruise

There were abundant farm products in the Central Market. Cans of foie gras were sold with reasonable price,too. Hungary gets publicity foie gras next to France. We were glad that the exchange rate is 10 Ft(hungary forint)=4 yen
So a cuisine of real foie gras, not pate is about 2000 yen or Herend-made chinas were about half price of Japans'.

 The foie gras sandwiched by baked  apples. The garnish is also potato.

The Diet Building

Many trams run in these three cities and as we got free pass ticket, it was very convenient . Why don't we Nara city take this system?

I was surprised to the coldness of three countries. It has  already fallen till 5 degrees Celsius( it's between 15 and 24 degrees in Japan).  I couldn't  do anything  without my down coat.

Dear friends,
 After travel, my computer broke but only just I could post this. Thank you for reading.