May 11, 2013

Getting Acquainted with Nanao

A view of my street
The boardwalk
Nanao City Hall
Every weekday morning I take a ten-minute walk to Nanao City Hall where I borrow one of their cars for work. On the way I pass by several elementary school kids strolling along in their round yellow hats and square backpacks. When I say hello to them they giggle amongst their friends before answering back with a shy hello! They always make me smile.
Gravesite in Spring
There are more Shinto shrines and Buddhist temples than I could count. Many of them are very small and tucked away into the neighborhoods. I find it interesting that many Buddhist temples don't actually teach the Dharma, but exist as a place for families to bury their loved ones. I pass by this one on my daily walk. The sakura were just beginning to fall and the area was covered in frail pink petals.
The first stage of building dekayama was putting the base together. Next was building upwards. These floats are the biggest in Japan, yet when I saw the completed frame I felt let down. I thought it would be bigger. Little did I know that this was only the beginning! When the dekayama was complete in all its glory and I was pulling it through the streets of Nanao for four days, it seemed absolutely gigantic.
The Nanao High School Brass Band
Every junior high and high school student is required to join an after-school club. They range from different types of sports, kendo, English club, and musical bands. Rain or shine, they practice everyday. This is why the Nanao High School Brass Band blew me away at their public concert - they honed their skills to the point of professionalism. In the video below, they play the theme from Miyazaki's Princess Mononoke.

And this little guy is Anpanman. Along with another anime character named Doraemon (a robotic blue cat from the future), they are the quintessential Japanese symbol of childhood. They're so popular you can find their likeness on everything.


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