The Nishimera Gibier Festival

“You ate what?” Maria-san asked with surprise. “Wild boar and deer.” She scrunched up her nose in disgust, “Urgh…really?” “Yeah, it was delicious!” “Oh no,” she frowned unconvinced, “I’ve never tried it.” Maria is the co-owner-co-chef of one of my favourite restaurants in Miyazaki, which made her reaction that much more amusing. It’s not an uncommon one in Japan though,…

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The Cape Toi Fire Festival

“I don’t see anything.” “Just wait for the next wave. Ok, now go! Move your hand around!” A tiny spec of blue suddenly appeared under the water. “Woah! I see one! There’s another one!” Mermaid fireflies, dancing around our hands and legs. “Holey shit, that’s cool!” It had been a really long day, but I immediately forgot I was tired….

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Nagasaki Lantern Festival

WELCOME TO NAGASAKI!  I fist-bumped the air as we drove across the border into Kyushu’s westernmost prefecture – the only one I had yet to conquer on Japan’s third largest island. Ian, Vidy and I were making our way down for Nagasaki Lantern Festival. The event, now in its 22nd year, draws crowds that make it nearly impossible to find…

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In Pictures: Chiran’s Nebuta Festival

Every year on the third Saturday of July, Chiran holds its own, miniature, version of the famed Nebuta Festival that takes place in Aomori City. Large washi lanterns, decorated with images of legendary warriors, are hand-wheeled up and down the town’s main shopping street, accompanied by drums, flutes and dancing. In the  Chiran adaptation, the performers still wear the traditional haneto…

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A Horse-Blessed Harvest

Here in the inaka, rice fields are woven into the scenery like squares on a patchwork quilt. The need for a calendar is obviated by their narrative of the seasons; glassy strips in early spring, neon sprouts in summer and golden ears by the end of autumn. Kyushu is where paddy cultivation is believed to have begun in Japan some 3,000 years ago. Since…

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Ookawara Gorge and the Firefly Festival

If ajisai is the quintessential flower of tsuyu season, the firefly must be it’s insect. Called hotaru in Japanese, these lightning bugs swarm around streams and rivers in the countryside from late May to June and can be viewed in some places up until August. In Kobayashi, Idenoyama Park hosts a firefly festival every year, and after talking about going for almost a month,…

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