Niwamise in Hana no Machi

Nagasaki is pretty much the party town of Japan. During the persecution of Christianity across Japan, the city had money coming in from two directions. Nagasaki was still making quite a bit of money from the Chinese, since they were the premiere Trading city of Japan. Nagasaki also got quite a bit of money from the Japanese Government, to simply NOT be christian and go about your daily life being Japanese.

So many shogun and lords became so rich, that they didn't know what to do with the money. They began having festivals all the time to spend their money on, and the tradition continues to this day.

This weekend is the Kunchi festival, which is basically the festivel of festivals. For the festival, certain neighborhoods across Nagasaki, before a song and dance act to display at the Kunchi festival. Last night was Niwamise, the showcase of the neighborhoods costumes and equipment for their performance this coming weekend. During this time, the group performing the act was receive gifts from all the neighborhood's residents in appreciation of their hardwork, dedication, and spirit.

Our history professor is participating is the Whale dance, so he advertised it a bit downtown. He's from britain and his wife is from this neighborhood, so through that connection he was able to participate. He'll be the first non-japanese descent person to participate in the dance. It's rather exciting.

Brian and I took off from the dorm around 7pm and went downtown to check it out. ^_^

As we got downtown, All those lanterns in China town were lit up, so we stopped off there first.

Sebastian, our history professor, said that we wouldn't be able to miss his niwamise. "Just follow the crowds..." and he was certainly right about that. Hana no Machi was packed with all kinds of people. Not only japanese people, but i hadn't seen that many Westerners around nagasaki either.

The first thing we came across was the whale:

For the whale dance, the game will move this whale around in circles, lift it up, move it back and forth. Inside the whale, two men will pump water so that water fires out from it's spout.

The next prop on display was a Kasaboku. Kasa meaning umbrella.

Here is the inside

This is carried around by one guy during the Kunchi festival. The also had a Doshimono on display after that Kasaboku

This is carried around by several guys holding long poles of bamboo. In the doshimono are some children playing instruments. During the doshimono, the guy's will spin around and toss it up into the air. Quality of the performance is judged on how high it is tossed and how level it is during the airtime.

We ventured forth to try and find Seb and his kimono's which were on display. By the way, traditionally the niwamise takes place in the people's homes; however, the city is a bit crowded these days and most people rent out apartments. For some neighborhoods, you can rent out stores that have contributed to your performance to display your kimono and gifts for the Niwamise. Seb rented out his store for about $1500.

We wandered around a bit and asked someone where we could find Seb. This nice lady helped us out. ^_^ Seb's niwamise had the biggest line and the most stuff inside as well. I think a bunch of the group pitched in and shared the store.

In fact, the store wasn't big enough to hold all the gifts they had received. some of the boxes spilled outdoors:

Inside was rather amazing

Check it out... LIVE lobsters:

There were so many gifts. The kimonos that the group would be wearing during the Kunchi festival are displayed on the wall. Underneath is the name of the person who would be wearing it. Each of these Kimono's are custom made and woven by hand by someone in the neighborhood. Each one cost about the same amount as a Car to create.

In the back was some more whale memoriabilia to show their respects to the whale. I was pretty packed inside. That's brian, by the way. We said "good luck" to Seb and began walking around a bit more.

People really go nuts for festivals over here in Japan.

About halfway through our trip, my camera ran out of batteries, so i had to find a convience store to get some more. While we were at it, Brian and I bought some beer since public drunken-ness in Japan is A-OK! We downed the beer pretty quick since japan has a severe lack of random garbage cans around. After talking a few more pictures, we ventured forth to try and find some more Niwamise across Nagasaki.

We found ourselves at Dejima Wharf around 9:30pm.

Dejima Wharf is such a swanky place.. Beautiful music playing in the background.. oh hey, check that out. It's live music:

The guitar nodded his head towards me, as i walked in the room. "oh dude, there's that hot american dude. i shall nod to his favor."

Brian and I continued to Harbor to look for some Niwamise, but no luck. We came across some japanese floozies though. "hallo..," they said as we walked by. We checked out the park:

ugh.. that's a bad photo. oh well.

We went back towards the department store to purchase some beer, when the floozies came up to us. "hi. where are you from?" I'm pretty sure that's how ever conversation with a foreign begins here in japan. We talked back and forth a bit, and asked them where we could find some Niwamise. They directed us towards Glover Garden. :shrugs:

Anywho.. we went into the department store and picked up some more cheap Beer (by japanese standards). We downed that pretty quick and took off towards Glover Garden. The grocery store in the department store had some baby ham loafs:

We eventually got to Glover Garden where there was NOTHING. nothing but darkness... what a waste. Glover Garden is rather beautiful, but not during the night with everything closed. :/

We stopped off at another convience store for some more cheap beer, and took off towards home. The street car was amazingly packed at this time at night. I should've taken a picture. We arrived at Sumiyoshi and began the hour long walk back to the dorm. I found some engrish!

We also thought it was a pretty good idea to start harassing this lone nerdy-looking japanese guy that was in front of us. We were making alot of noise, laughing at each other, and he turned around to look at us. After one look, he faced forward and began walking faster. So we began walking a bit faster to mess with him.

He looked back again, and now we were closer before. ZOMG, he increased his pace. Therefore we krept up ever quicker. We stopped playing around though, because we didn't want the police to get involved or something weird. The kid took off across the street to get away from us. ^_^ MAuahahahaha.. we scared the crap out of him.

We were rather amused with ourselves. This helped pass the time.

When we finally reached home, and i went straight to bed. Drinking and Walking is quite tiring. Kunchi is going to freakin' rock. Prepare your beers.

By the way... i think the best beer i've found here is this little 12 oz can of Asahi for 125 yen a can. It's pretty delicious and it's cheap. That's the best combo one can hope for.

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