Kicked off last night at a standing-bar tacked on to an off-license/bottle-shop/liquor-store near a friend’s house. These bars are a lot more popular since the credit crisis, or “Lehman SHOCK!” as it’s more snappily called here.
Go inside, buy booze, drink it in the drive
an old 50's poster... ...but what's this one standing on?
Nicely warmed up for Rounds 2,3 and 4 in Kabukicho
On the surface, Wales may not have much in common with Okinawa, the tropical islands that drip from the far southwest of Japan, except a common love of singing, music and drinking. There is something else though...
In the mid-19th century many Welsh schools used the Welsh Not as a way to discourage the Welsh language. It was basically a large wooden tag with the letters “W.N.” carved into it.
Every day it would be hung around the neck of any child caught speaking Welsh instead of English. The child could only get rid of it by catching another child speaking Welsh and passing it on. Whoever was stuck with the Welsh Not at the end of the day was punished.
Seems you can’t keep a “good idea” down as the same system was used by the Japanese shortly after they annexed the former RyukyuKingdom in 1879 to try and eradicate the native Okinawan language, Ryukyuan.
In schools throughout what was now Okinawa, any child caught using the indigenous language was forced to wear a large wooden tag around their neck, this time called a hogen-fuda.
Once again, the tag would be passed from child to child, to anyone caught not speaking Japanese. Children were taught to report their friends who went against the authorities just to get rid of the tag and avoid punishment.
Worse was to come in Okinawa of course, but despite the initial negative impact on the language, the one lasting impact in both countries has been a heightened passion to preserve the culture.
Finally finished the frame for this excellently-titled print of a painting by Jenny Butt that arrived a few weeks ago, drekly from Cornwall, now proudly decorating the walls of Club 51. Thanks Jenny!
I ordered the print before pricing up the frame and once again realised I’m in the wrong business when the framing shop wanted to charge me four times what I paid for the print!
Sod that! Managed to knock one up with some timber from the local B&Q/Mitre10/Home Depot, some sticky-back plastic and a pair of Val's own knickers at a tenth of what the pros wanted to charge... and had fun doing it.
Back on the bike last weekend for the first time since the big crash of June'09... and no broken bones this time. Went down to the river and came across this guy playing a Balafon some sort of wooden xylophone from Ghana.
A mate of his brought it back for him - nice bit of gourd action.
I first saw the Onbashira festival about 25 years ago on one of those "Crazy World of TV" shows. It happens once every six years near Suwa in Nagano and I managed to get up there in 2004. It's on again this weekend but sadly I can't make it so here's some pics from last time.
The festival is based around replacing the four holy pillars at the Suwa Grand Shrine. The wood for the pillars comes from a divine forest several miles away the other side of town so every six years they choose the best trees, tie huge ropes to them and drag them to the shrine where they'll stand for six years before being replaced again. The catch is that on the way to the shrine there's a very steep hill, so with great ceremony the chosen few get to ride them down. A real badge of honour for those who get to do it.
Some low quality screenshots from my home video of some slightly crazy, pretty brave and very proud men...
Maybe not a big surprise that people have been seriously injured and even killed during this festival but in 2004 everything went smoothly. The log-riding is in April, then in May they have the second stage where they cross a freezing river before finally erecting them at the shrine.
As a bonus, I got to meet the Tokyo Shock Boys (Dengeki Network) who were there making a program for National Geographic Channel. I asked Nambu-san, the one with the shaved head and pink tufts, if they were going to ride and they just shook their heads saying it was too dangerous. If it's too dangerous for these boys, then hats off to the guys who pull it off.