Monday, March 23, 2009

Culture Note #4: What is Hanami or Sakura Season?

This is by far is the most beautiful sight you will ever see. No photograph can ever do it justice. When it is that time of year, all time seems to stand still. The endless white and pink pedals fluttering down makes you feel blessed that you are alive. You see it in movies and you hear about it but this is a once in a life time MUST SEE! So for all those in should feel blessed.

Sakura Season varies from location to locatio
n. For Tokyo it is blossoming right now! There is actually an adventure called Sakura Chasing. Because of the change in climate from north to south, spring hits at a different time. You can thus travel from North to South chasing blossoming sakura for about a month and a half. You can imagine that it is an expensive endeavor. However, I hope to one day do it myself

Hanami (花見) - It literally means "Flower Watching". It is when Sakura Season comes, and you pretty much go get drunk with your friends all day long. People will spend the night in the cold to reserve the best hanami spots through out the park!

When I say drunk..I don't mean a little tipsy... People get PLASTERED! They do CRAZY things. The norm is dancing, singing songs, play instruments, doing homoerotic dares...o_O like the boys in this photo...--->

Preparation: Bring a tarp, blanket, alcohol, TONS of s
nacks, and a Camera!(you never know what your gonna see!) I saw some guys go swimming in the public pond!

Warning: The line to go to the bathroom is going to be if you need to go start waiting in line early, and don't wait till that absolute LAST MINUTE!!!

There are Hanami Spots Everywhere, but
These Were My Favorite:
(If you aren't sure how to read maps please read my older post)

Inokashira Park:

5 min walk from Kichijoji (JR Chuo Line)
1 min walk from Inokashira Kōen (Keio Line)
...Just follow the signs that say Inokashira Park.

Shinjuku Gyoen National Park:(MAP)

JR・KEIO・ODAKYU Lines:Shinjuku sta. "south exit" 10min. walk
SEIBU SHINJUKU Line: Seibu shinjuku sta. 15min. walk
Marunouchi Line(Subway): Shinjuku gyoen mae sta. "Exhit1" 5min. walk
Toei Shinjuku Line(Subway): Shinjuku 3 chome sta.: "C1&C5exit" 5min. walk

Don't know where to go? Just follow the trail of Japanese people! TAKE SOME GREAT PICTURES!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Culture Note #3: What is Kanamura matsuri (aka the penis festival!)

Hey all,

Sorry for the delay in recent posts. It's mid-terms time, and I can't write as many posts as I would like. I will be moving this blog to soon, so look forward to it! For now, please enjoy and attend the Kanamura festival.^_^ I attended it last year and it was great!

Warning: there will be 70%+ gaijin attending.


What: Kanamara Matsuri (Festival of the Steel Phallus)
When: April 5 (Sunday)
Where: Kawasaki, Kanagawa

Start time: 10:30AM(it is best to go earlier)
End time: 4:30PM

Nearest station: Kawasakidaishi (Keikyu line)
Direction: Take the south exit and follow the Gaijin crowd. Kanayama shrine is just a minute walk from the station.

The Kanamara Matsuri, also called Festival of the Steel Phallus, or in layman's term "Penis festival", is an annual Shinto fertility festival held in Kawasaki, Japan in spring. The penis is the central theme of the event, and it decorated in every aspect of the festival; in illustrations, candy, carved vegetables, decoration, a parade of mikoshis, etc.

There is a huge 4 foot tall penis permanently at the shrine year round.

The best part about this festival is that it is right next to a kindergarten school o_o

Note: Not too many Japanese people know about this festival, it is more popular in foreign countries, so be careful who you speak to this about this wild festival. You might still get odd looks if you flaunt your pictures. ENJOY!

Check URL's for:
* Train times & connections
* Weather forecast
* Kanamara festival
* Photos

(some of this information was copied from a Tokyo Gaijin e-mail)