The Summer 2016 That Was…

Before taking off to the next chapter of my life in Japan, I made it sure to enjoy my last favorite season in Tokushima – the town where I first learned to live a life alone away from home. Summer is my favorite season no matter how hot it gets, I just love it. Summer breeze and sea shores make up a perfect summer for me. ‘Plus alpha’ as how the Japanese would always express it, the sound of semi (cicada) all-day and the smell of fresh morning dew..hmmmm… feels sooo goood!

宍喰、徳島 (Shishikui, Tokushima)

I said to my self that if I promised something, I should fulfill it. It may be delayed depending on my condition whether because I am lazy or the circumstances don’t allow it but by all means I should fulfill promises to myself. My friends and I planned to go to a beach this summer. Thanks to fate and destiny we were led to a place called Shishikui in Tokushima, just around 10 minutes before crossing the boarder to Kochi Prefecture by train. It is Tokushima’s open sea facing the Pacific Ocean where surfers, beginners and experts go to. It’s been so long since the last time I had my self submerged to the salty waters of the sea. Thanks to Jake who toured us around and introduced us to his friend who owns a villa where we could stay for a night. I burnt my skin and it was the best souvenir I could get from this summer at Shishikui, Tokushima.

If you want to stay at Shishikui over night or for a couple of days and do some surfing adventure, you can check out this website http://www.pavilion-surf.com/

花火大会 at Yoshinogawa Festival and Kitajima

I live in a small town in Tokushima where our fireworks display could not be as spectacular as that of the bigger cities like Tokyo or even the local cities like Naruto or Kochi City. The simplicity of our fireworks display has been enough to bring simple joy as well to the folks of this town. Yoshinogawa Festival is a yearly summer festival held below the Yoshinogawa Bridge. Food, barbeques, family and friends’ get-together parties with musical and dance performance on the stage, and of course a glimpse of the yearly Awa Odori festival. I went to the festival three days in a row with some friends and most of the time alone. I savored every corner of the festival site. Filled and empty chairs and tables, lights and colorful performance. I will miss this simple and native festival.

Sorry for the mediocre fireworks shots. I was too lazy to bring my tripod at the Yoshinogawa Festival so I had to hold my breath in taking photos which took a while in capturing long exposure shots. I learned that no matter how I held my breath, the camera will still shake and it will capture up to the slightest movement (scratching my head).

IMG_7072.JPG

The only handheld long exposure shot of the Yoshinogawa fireworks display I could present in this article out of the many failed shots (scratching my head and peace sign) 🙂

The fireworks display at Kitajima gave me a hard time capturing photos because the the fireworks were too near to the spectators and I don’t have wide angle lens to squeeze them up in my frame.

The following photos were personally taken last 2013 at the same event at the Yoshinogawa Bridge. I was more prepared because my purpose was to try to take really nice photos. I know these are amateur shots for a professional photographer but I am happy with my photos.

Muroto Dolphin Center

The closes to wildlife I have ever been! I would love to swim with them again! Crizelda and I agreed to meet up at Muroto Dolphin Center prior to visiting Kochi. I was glad that she joined me in this adventure. The dolphins were really very endearing creatures. They were so lovable I wanted to hug them tightly! Their skin felt like huge inflatable lifebuoy, so smooth! And indeed they are intelligent creatures! I encourage my friends to visit Muroto Dolphin Center. Here is their website for more information and reservation: http://www.muroto-dc.jp/en/

Kochi Prefecture’s Yosakoi Festival

I visited Kochi to see their biggest festival of the year – Yosakoi Festival. According to Wikipedia, yosakoi is a unique style of dance that originated in Japan combining traditional dance with modern music, which began in 1954. A common prop called bird rattle (naruko) is held as the performers dance in the streets. There is also a competition among the groups and the winner will represent the prefecture on the national level according to my friend. Yosakoi is a very colorful and upbeat event. It is held every year at Kochi prefecture where tourists locally and outside Japan come to visit and witness this huge event only in Kochi prefecture.

I also visited the Kochi Castle too bad it already closed when we arrived there. I just took pictures from the outside which is usually better than indoor shots from the castle. It is the architecture and design which makes it a good souvenir of the castle. I also visited Godaisan, Kochi’s famous mountain park. Here are what you can find at the park and some tourist spots I visited in Kochi City.

I also bathed at Kochi’s pacific shore near my friend’s apartment. I enjoyed the day a lot! We had our breakfast by the beach and had our skins tanned by the pacific sun.

Tokushima’s Awa Odori

Tokushima’s pride is Awa Odori. According to Japan Atlas Festivals (http://web-japan.org/atlas/festivals/fes19.html) Awa Odori has attracted 1.3 million tourists in 1997. It still attracts tourists every year and teams from other parts of Japan have also joined in festival performances. Awa is the old name for Tokushima Prefecture. It was believed that the dance began in 1585 when drunk people started dancing as a way of celebrating the finished construction of a new castle. It was called a “fool’s dance” based from the lyrics of the song accompanying the dance: “Odoru aho ni miru aho; onaji aho nara odoranya son son!” (It’s a fool who dances and a fool who watches; if both are fools, you might as well dance!)

The teams are called ‘ren‘ and the song is played in live traditional musical instruments such as flute, drums, shamisen and bells. Footwear for men are called ‘tabi‘ and ‘geta‘ for women. I have personally experienced dancing both for men and women and to compare, it is much more exhausting for the female part because dancing on geta is very painful while you hold your hands higher than your head and keeping the hand movements consistent. The only tiring part for men is the leg endurance because they have to maintain a low posture on bent knees while dancing. This year, I went to all of the nights of Awa Odori Festival. I really made the most of it.

 

Aizome (Indigo dye)

I brought my friend to Tokushima’s traditional indigo dye museum where we dyed our shirts on our own. What is so special with this dye is that they are made from fermented dye pulps (Ai leaves) through sukumo processing. The leaves go through meticulous processing from planting to drying. It was a prosperous business in Tokushima many many years ago making Tokushima as one of the greatest producers of Indigo in Japan. If you want to try it for yourself, you may call Aizumi Historical Museum at 0886926317 or visit this website: http://www.topia.ne.jp/english/tourism/leisure_experience/eastern_tokushima/e-02.html

Source: Aizumicho Historical Museum

An of course, our side trips at the Otsuka Museum and Naruto Whirlpool 🙂

From June to August, I had the most colorful and beautiful summer! I thank the Lord for encouraging me to fulfill my promises to myself, to enjoy life’s beauty and excitement. He made the weather favorable for me to help bring out my mood bright and gay. This has been an unforgettable summer in Japan. The best remembrance I was able to get was tanned skin and unaccounted liters of sweat! Woohooo!!!

Thanks to Aja, Ervin, Jovy and Criselda for lending some of their photos in this blog. Let’s do this again. 🙂

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