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Thursday, July 27, 2006
Honjo Matsuri: Our Last Look
Every summer, most cities in Japan are merrier with festival they call Matsuri. Honjo is no exception. Each year Honjo has two matsuri(s): the first one is in Summer and the second is in Fall. This year's Honjo Natsu Matsuri or Honjo Summer Festival was held on July 22 and 23. This year's matsuri is also our last matsuri in Honjo :-<.

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Stories say that a long long time ago the now-Honjo region was divided into 8 (more or less) smaller areas. Each area belonged to a certain community, group, family, or landlord. Each group had their own symbol in the form of Mikoshi, a miniature of building symbolizing a Shinto shrine. During festival, this mikoshi was carried on the shoulders around the neighborhood that worship the same shrine. The people carrying the Mikoshi would chant some interesting yells to boost the spirit. Later on, the procession is continued to these days.

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Honjo is a very small city, especially compared to Tokyo, Kyoto, or even other cities clustered around the big cities. Honjo Matsuri, logically, is also a small festival compared to the cities mentioned before. But still, on the Matsuri days, the streets are always crowded with people and the procession is always merry. Most Honjo citizens will flock along the festival area. On the festival area we can see local people wearing their traditional custom (in different colors and symbols). We can also see different Mikoshi(s) from different areas in Honjo. And, another unique feature of a matsuri is the lines of street shops on the left and right sides of the street. These shops only open on Matsuri days and they sell many kinds of 'small' things ranging from omocha (toys), goldfish, food (takoyaki= fried octopus, yakisoba=fried noodle, sweets, chicken karaage, etc), drinks, and many others.

Hikari and me were trying to catch a Kinjyo (goldfish) using a paper-net. This catching-Kinjyo thing is not our first time, yet we never seem to master it...
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See the custom the people are wearing! Do you see some butts? :D
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Tired. We were waiting for the festival to begin. It was summer afternoon after all. #:-S
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Hikari and Okasan in the middle of Yoi-yoi yell.
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They didn't forget about the logistics :D. Behind every group there was the group supporters bringing cold drinks.
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Carrying the Mikoshi is a hard job. Teamwork is needed. This festival is not merely about having fun. It teaches other important values also: teamwork, hardwork, harmony, what else?
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While there were people carrying the poles to go forward, there were also other people in front to hold the poles and the movement.
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I shot the picture to aim at one guy for particular reasons. Do you know which guy? ;)) And why? ;))
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Girls also joined the group.
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Another Mikoshi from another group.
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Tiring but fun.
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Another group.
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Another Mikoshi, another... butt? :-$
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Children participated too!
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The children were dancing on top of the poles.
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After the Matsuri. Hikari enjoyed 'ice cream' with his friends.
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We had fun. We want some more, pleaseeeeeee......... ;;)
posted by Me-Reza @ 12:53 PM   1 comments
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Wednesday, July 26, 2006
Hokkaido
Hokkaido, the northernmost of Japan's four main islands. I had a chance to visit it last week. Too bad it was not for pleasure, nor could it be mixed with pleasure. I was there for a conference and I didn't have much time to explore the city of Sapporo.
Hokkaido is harsh in winter, and in summer it is not as hot as other Japan's regions. When I was there, the weather was nice. Not too cold and not too hot (like Tokyo in the mid of summer nowadays).
On the day before departure day, I rented a bike and spent two hours exploring Sapporo, the capital city. I wish I had more time to take more pictures.

The hotel where I stayed:
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The old government building, built of red bricks:
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The clock tower:
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The Clock Tower or Tokeidai is the symbol of Sapporo and constructed in 1878. The US made clock was added in 1881. The Clock Tower now houses a small museum.
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The clock tower and the Hokkaido tower.
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The birdman... I saw this man in the park. He just returned from work and stopped by the park to feed the birds. It is indeed relaxing.
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posted by Me-Reza @ 10:15 PM   0 comments
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My Campus
This is the place where I spent 2.5 years of my life. Mostly staring at the computer monitor.
But, actually, it is a nice campus full with facilities. It even has a massage-chair!
Waseda GITS - Honjo campus, of course in Honjo city. Surrounded by forest and next to a small lake.
<--My wife and cousin Ita are posing in front of the building... The campus and its compound can be used not only for studying but also for having a picnic hehehe...
The lab! My work station. My messy cube.
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The lounge where you can satisfy your thirst. As long as you have the coin.
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Da CHAIR!
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posted by Me-Reza @ 7:02 PM   0 comments
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The Doer

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REZA? SAYA!
Eja? Anca? Reza? Ring any bells? Yup! That's me!

A Brief Overview
  • A master student of the Graduate School of Global Information and Telecommunication Studies at Waseda University, Japan.
  • A fellow of the 2004 Japanese Grant Aid for Human Resource Development Scholarship (JDS) Program.
  • An employee of one of state-owned Indonesian banks.
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