Tokyobling's Blog

Tochigi Donkeys

Posted in Animals by tokyobling on December 18, 2014

Going on a long walk in Tochigi Prefecture’s Nasu district I walked past a farm that advertised the feeding of donkeys, naturally I had to investigate. The feeding process was cleverly set up so that even clumsy children could safely pour good things down on the happy beasts. The donkeys shared space with a couple of hungry horses as well. I have a soft spot for animals and donkey are very rare in Japan.

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History Festivals

Posted in Animals, People by tokyobling on October 25, 2014

Not all festivals in and around Tokyo are traditional religious or spiritual, there are also quite a few history festivals that give us a chance to enjoy the old clothes, costumes, arms and armor of the times long gone. Several of these festivals take place around the last weekend of October, throughout Japan, not least being the big parade in Nihonbashi tomorrow morning. I saw these mounted samurai warriors at the Kanda Matsuri a few years ago, just as they were exercising their horses at a local elementary school before the main parade. The rather intense rain was forcing us all to keep out heads down though. If you are in Japan today or tomorrow, I recommend looking around to see if there are any history festivals near you!

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Yuzuchan – Cute Horse in Okutama

Posted in Animals, Places by tokyobling on June 21, 2014

While walking from Sawai Station in Tokyo’s extreme west, Ome City, which is far more wilderness and rural countryside than a city, I came upon this lovely 12 year old Yuzu-chan, who is one of the many animal residents of the Akatonbo Renga, a restaurant/shop that combines a business in antique bricks and barbecuing!

Although I wasn’t a customer, Yuzu-chan was just too cute to resist feeding a little bit of wild grass. I don’t pet animals I haven’t been introduced to, but this one was very tempting indeed!

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Yabusame – Ritual Mounted Archery

Posted in Animals, Japanese Traditions, People, Places by tokyobling on April 26, 2014

Last of the series of Yabusame photographs I got at the Ogano Spring festival in Saitama prefecture just about a week ago. The horses used by the archers were all traditional Japanese breeds, small and hardy requiring little fodder and fearless in battle. All of them came very close to extinction half a century ago when they were deemed to small for the war effort and the government was focusing on stronger breeds.

The speed can be seen in some of the photos: by the time the archer has released the arrow and the splintered boards of the target start flying apart the horse is already well past the target, speeding towards the next one in line. The boards were collected by the judges and marked by a local calligraphist. They were then sold to the audience to be displayed in their private home shrines as a talisman of protection for the family and home.

The photos may look a little dark. I had to dial the exposure way down to get any sort of contrast, the mountain sun and air bathed the sports field where the ceremony took place in a bright even light that seemed to cast few shadows.

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