Archive for the ‘Festivals’ Category

New Years can be a dangerous time if you are dumb…

January 2, 2011 11 comments

Click HERE for todays photos.

click here for todays photos

click here for todays photos

(The following is a re-post from my old block that was hacked and deleted.  The original date of this post was 3 January 2003)

A few days before New Years I arrived back from the land of big houses, big cars, big portions, and even bigger people (Those last two seem to be linked…)

I am always a little culture shocked when I take a trip back to America. Everyone is so huge, and they all look so different from each other.

I guess after spending so much time in Japan I have started to see America in much the same way as the Japanese.

Yes, it does feel good to be back in Japan. As much as I do enjoy vacations and going back to see my family, I also always enjoy coming back “home” to Japan.

The photos from today’s journal entry were taken on New Years day around Shimikitazawa, near Tokyo. I had walked to the station to meet some friends and walk with them back to my wife’s parents home for a day of eating, drinking, and being merry.

Empty Shimokitazawa

Empty Shimokitazawa

On the way to the station I was snapping photos of the nearly deserted streets. The only really crowded place I saw was a shrine. Everyone was lining up to get a blessing for the New Year.

Temple hustle and bustle

I continued on to the station and turned a corner to find a person slumped over on the sidewalk. My first though was that he had dropped a contact and was looking for it. Getting a little closer I could see that he was not moving. Were it not for the large pile of vomit that he had his head resting in I would have thought he was praying. Obviously this guy had went on one hell of a binge on New Years eve and was paying the price for it now. Passed out with his head lying in a pool of his own puke. (Gross!!!)

Praying? Sleeping? Dead?

As I was busy documenting the situation for you, my faithful readers, another not so nearly drunk New Years reveler came along. I’m not sure if he knew the passed out guy, but he proceeded to prod him with his foot, trying to get a reaction. No luck. This guy was really out of it. (I can understand his reluctance to get to close to the guy. I myself was using the full telephoto zoom of my camera to get the photos because I am sure this guy smelled even worse than he looked) The guy then got on his cell phone and made a call.

Fire truck rescue

Getting ready to load the "cargo"

Situation under control. Next stop, "stomach pumping".

Feeling that I could do no more good here (I had gotten my photos) I decided to move along to the station.

I ran into an Omochi pounding party along the way. Omochi is basically cooked rice that is pounded into the consistency of old elmers glue, with nearly the same taste. It is then lightly grilled and then wrapped in dried seaweed.

Making Mochi

I’m not sure what the attraction is, but the Japanese go crazy over this stuff each New Years. The stickiness of it does have its dangers though. Each year many people, mostly the elderly, choke to death on Omochi. The stuff is hard to swallow and just this year alone, Six elderly Japanese died and 25 others were hospitalized, 12 in a coma, in Tokyo after choking on these gooey rice cakes over the New Year’s holiday.

Each year the government issues warning about the dangers of eating Omochi and urges citizens to take smaller bites, chew well, and drink plenty of fluids while they are eating.

I have a better plan. Skip the omochi and just carry around a bottle of fresh elmers glue. Just pull a few leaves off of a tree, squirt on a liberal helping of glue and there you have it, instant omochi, in a safer, liquid form!

On the way back from the station I walked the same route so my friends could see that poor passed out guy. Upon getting closer to the scene it became clear to me who that person had called after trying to rouse the passed out guy. The fire department and ambulance had shown up to cart the guy away to the hospital and get him cleaned up so he could sleep it off in comfort. (And maybe get his stomach pumped).

This kind of thing is not that uncommon here in Japan. On more than a few occasions I have seen an ambulance pick up a drunk person and haul them off to the hospital.

Nice to know that someone is looking out for you, even if you are not doing so yourself. In many parts of America, instead of getting a nice cozy ride to the hospital, this guy would have woken up either still on the street, or even worse, in the drunk tank of the local jail, possibly robbed, and most certainly ticketed for drunk and disorderly conduct.

Yes, it’s good to be back in such a fun-filled safe place!

Categories: Festivals, flashback

Cherry Blossom Festival in DC

April 1, 2010 20 comments

Cherry Blossom Festival in DC

Cherry blossoms near the Jefferson memorial

Springtime, perfect for having picnics, wearing shorts and admiring the Cherry Blossom in DC. The National Cherry Blossom Festival is an two-week (per annum) event that celebrates springtime in Washington, DC as well as the 1912 gift of the cherry blossom trees and the enduring friendship between the people of the United States and Japan.

Another view of the Jefferson memorial, framed by cherry blossoms

DC Attractions include multiple festivals, museums, monuments, and more. The National Cherry Blossom Festival, Inc., is a 501(c)(3) organization that coordinates, produces, and supports creative and diverse activities promoting traditional and contemporary arts and culture, natural beauty and the environment, and community spirit and youth education. It’s also begins peak season for an influx of tourists to Washington, also brought in by the thousands of historical landmarks, museums, and other buildings, The National Museum of Crime & Punishment, located in Washington, D.C. is one of those such buildings, with excellent depictions of historically famous crime scenes along detailed information concerning past wars, forensics, organized crime, and more.

(This is a guest posting. Text and photographs are copyright – Erik Braunitzer)

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Tokyo Marathon 2010

February 27, 2010 13 comments
click here for todays photos

click here for todays photos

Tomorrow I will be running the Tokyo Marathon.

The longest race I have previously run is a half marathon, but thanks to  a 12-week marathon training plan that I found on the net I feel I am absolutely ready for it.  I was a bit concerned when I got sick during the first week of the schedule and had to drop most of that weeks runs, but it turned out to not really have a negative impacts on me.

Here is the plan that I followed:

marathon training plan

If you are interested in getting a ground level view of what the course entails, just check out the following link:

During training, my longest run was 35K, so I have not yet run a full marathon distance.  Although when I did that run I felt like I had plenty left in my tank and could have stretched it out for the full 42.2K if I needed to.

I’m planning on taking a Ricoh GR Digital with me so I can take pictures during the race.  The forecast is calling for a 90% chance of rain, so that could kill my plans to take pictures as I don’t want to kill my camera.

Wish me luck!

Categories: Festivals

Butt floss appreciation day

January 23, 2008 Leave a comment

Click HERE for todays photos


It’s not everday that I find myself squatting down to get a better look at a mans butt. Butt, (pun intended) that is exactly what happened last weekend.

Let me explain…

Each year in the latter half of January there is an event that takes place at Enoshima beach. It seems that everyone knows that I will have some free time on that particular weekend, so they are thoughtful enough to stage quite an extravagant production for my benefit.

Officially it is called Winter Mikoshi Training, and the object of the day is for a bunch of people to get liquored up, stripped down, and then vigorously carry a mikoshi into the freezing ocean waters. And to make it a little more exciting, some people ride along on top of the rails that the mikoshi rests upon. (These are the smart ones of the group since they are the only ones that stay dry during the whole affair.)

Yes, Officially it is called “Winter Mikoshi Training“, but I have a better name for it, namely, “Butt floss and body art appreciation day.” You see, a very colorful minority of the mikoshi carriers are full blown Yakuza, and sport the full body suit of beautiful traditional Japanese Irezumi to prove it. And it really is impressive to think about just how much time, pain, and yen goes into getting a skin like that.

Most had the complete work, but there were a few of the younger ones that had works-in-progress with a lot of traced out designs lacking color.

I’m not sure if I myself would ever get a tattoo, but I can understand why some people do it. You see, it’s not just any man that can strip down to butt floss and have photographers going gaga over him, crouching down for a better angle from the rear. No, it takes a special kind of male body to get me to act in such a manner. (female bodies on the other hand need no other special decoration other than what nature has bestowed upon them…)

Not that it is at all related to todays post, but just tonight I upgraded the hard drive in my MacBook from 80GB to 320 GB. I used some great software called Super Duper, andWOW was it easy to do. Now I have gobs of space to store pictures, movies, and music without having to drag an external hard drive along with me.

And while were on the topic of laptops, what do you think about the MacBook Err, opps, I mean “Air”.

I only say this because in order to squeeze the form factor of this laptop down to that of a few sheets of wet washi paper Apple had to leave out a few “extras” as can best be demonstrated by checking out this link.

But, even though these compromises were made, do I still want one? YES. Will I buy one? In all likelyhood not.

My newly upgraded MacBook is serving me just fine. I don’t carry my MacBook with me very oten so shaving off a couple of pounds from my gear bag does not really do much for me. Although, I would then be able to stack an extra lens or two in place of that 2 pounds of saved weight…


Categories: Festivals