Friday, May 24, 2013

Kagehashi Japan (Day 4)

National History Museum | Sawara City

Our first full day in Chiba started at the National History Museum. There were 6 parts that covered Japan's history from the Paleolithic era to the present day. Because we had limited time, as usual, I explored Folk Traditions gallery and Japan in the World War eras.  

+ The boats and dragons are part of a summer festival.
+ The creepy looking straw statue is a forest guardian planted to guard against demons
+ In Japan, there are many age related ceremonies such as Hinamaturi, the doll ceremony for girls, to extravagant traditional wedding ceremonies. The one pictured above is a funeral display.
+ Daruma Dolls (bottom right) - These are hollow dolls used for encouragement and good luck. When someone makes a goal, they draw in one eye on the Daruma, and they draw in the other eye once they've completed the task. I should get some of those!

This was the 1900s Japan gallery that covered the 20s through WW2 and ended with pop culture in the 80s.

For lunch, we ate karaage (fried chicken) at a restaurants that's primarily used as a night bar. They keep giving us "westernized" Japanese food to satisfy everyone's palette, but I'm like give me the sushi!

Our next destination was Sawara City, an old town with a few beautiful shrines. There's a huge contrast between peaceful Sawara and bustling Tokyo. I really enjoyed the atmosphere and the old styled houses.

An old Shinto shrine. The white paper tags posted on buildings and trees marks them as sacred and requires special permission to alter.

Sawara City is best known for their giant parade festivals (matsuris) that take place in the summer and fall. The floats pictured behind me were so grand and heavy - many were made in the 1800s and have been maintained/rebuilt since then. During matsuris, the townspeople would drag these heavy floats, one for each district, through the town streets. We're pictured here in traditional festival wear, a.k.a. hapis.

I really loved walking by all the quaint old buildings that have been carefully maintained. During the earthquake in 2011, many of these houses got destroyed but thanks to the government and non-profit aid, they were quickly restored.

Definitely a "mono no aware" moment right here. There was a little river lined with willows that ran through the main street of Sawara. Cute little souvenir shops lined the riverbank.

A small boat that gives tourists a bug's eye view of Sawara. It's ironic that the boar uses a gas engine, but still features a paddler dressed in traditional garb.

After this, we went to a local farmer's market with fresh and precooked food! I tried yakisoba for the first time in Japan!

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