On my last trip to Okinawa I visited the relatively new Chura-Sun beach (美らSUNビーチ) right to the south of Naha Airport and saw this group of wedding photographers doing their best to capture a young couple in the classic “groom getting blown away”. If you have ever been to a wedding in Okinawa, you know this pose! I was there in the winter and the beach was quite deserted, not least due to the cold winds. Even Okinawa gets chilly in the winter. I always thought of Okinawa as Japan’s own paradise. It is quite expensive to go there from the mainland but I am sure the locals are happy to keep it that way. I wouldn’t mind spending a few months there in spring or summer!
The last of the photos of the Mizukake Matsuri! As you can see I got way too close for my own good at the final moments here, as the wall of water comes crashing down on us I got caught by a nasty sideways bucket of water and the last photo in this series is the last photo my camera took before promptly shorting and giving up it the ghost. So, by the time I had gotten a replacement body the festival was already over and I had missed the grand finale and the Emperor’s visit! Well, you can get them all. Next time I’ll try to be more careful, but knowing myself, when I see so much fun I can’t stay out of it! Enjoy!
More photos from the great Mizukake Matsuri at Monzennakacho! The first few photos are of the many omikoshi teams representing different neighborhoods around the great shrine of Tomioka Hachimangu, the center of this festival. Along the route there are several two men teams of firefighters volunteering to give the omikoshi bearers a massive hose down, as you can see in the third photo. At this point most other photographers had wisely retreated to a safe distance but I am more like a shark sensing blood in the water, I throw all caution to the wind and charge in with camera blazing when I see something as interesting as this! Absolutely not my smartest move.
I moved closer to the great shrine and saw the first of the mobile swimming pool stations, where one of the omikoshi teams were met with a wall of water as a dozen people emptied buckets of it all over them, it was pretty impressive! And of course I had to move in closer, to check out the kids trying to fight back with their water guns, the cutest and bravest thing I ever saw! More photos to come in the final post on this fantastic festival. Enjoy!
The second installment of pictures on the Mizukake Matsuri, the water festival in Monzennakacho earlier this month. These pictures are from the parade, I wanted to show you the many different costumes worn by people having different roles in the ritual parade. I don’t know the official terms or details, but the ladies in the first and third photos are the pace setters, dragging long metal poles as they pace slowly towards the shrine. These and the banner bearers are often the prettiest girls of the area, but recently you see kids and men do it as well sometimes. No matter what, anyone in that kind costume looks fantastic! The reason they drag the poles is to make the many rings jingle and produce the ritual sound they need. Even if you can’t see their pace, by dragging the poles on the ground anyone can hear them and match their own pace to them.
The fourth picture of the muscular man shows you that he is prepared for what will come, can you spot the water proof cigarette case at his hip? Very clever. In the short while it has been since he was last hosed down with water his clothes have already started to dry in the over 38 degrees, and even hotter out in the open sun like that! Not everyone is a tough though, look at the little on in the sixth photo. The boy in the seventh is armed and ready to fight back. I heard that there was a message doing the rounds on message boards and online forums used by the local kids, to “aim for the cops”! I think that explains why most police were holding a very respectable distance from the parade, leaving security in the hands of the older more sensible locals and the local fire brigades (who are absolutely legitimate targets for the odd water gun)!