Tag Archives: events

Yasukawa Rafting in Moriyama

Moriyama City held its 33rd annual Yasugawa Adventure Tournament on June 29, 2014. I did not know about the event, but as I was cycling down Yasugawa in the morning I saw dozens of hand-built rafts slowly floating down the river from just above the Shiga Route 48 bridge to a few hundred meters below the Japan Route 477 bridge.

The Moriyama City Fire Department monitored the event, but one of the volunteers, a man about my age, told me that they didn’t have much to do. He’d been worried as it had rained the previous night. The river can grow dramatically after a heavy rain, but today it was very shallow for this season.

The current was very slow. People walking along the riverbank easily kept pace with the rafts. Many of the people on the rafts were paddling, a few were rowing, and some were pushing their rafts as they waded. I heard a lot of talking and laughter, but near the finish line the participants looked pretty tired. About a dozen people were watching from the Japan Route 477 bridge, sometimes waving and shouting encouragement to those who were floating down the river below.

After I got home I found an announcement of the event. It shows the starting point on an embedded map: 第33回野洲川冒険大会~いかだくだり~参加者募集~-新庄大橋上流スタート-.

Hayama Danchi Mochitsuki 2013 video

This short video is an attempt to express the spirit of my neighborhood as we made and ate mochi (sticky rice cakes) on December 22, 2013. I did not shoot or record with a plan, so it’s pretty rough. Also, wanted to use it for teaching, so I used photos in three ways: original 4:3 aspect ratio from the camera (pillarboxed with vertical black mrgains), cropped to 16:9 aspect ratio (same as the video), and cropped with Ken Burns effects (pan, tilt, zoom).

I kept the camera aimed low to avoid shots that might embarrass people or violate their privacy. That worked out well. Other bystanders and I stood side-by-side, looking at the same activities. I quickly discovered that the most visually compelling scenes were of hands: old, middle-aged, and young hands, often close together or touching. I was most impressed by the transmission of manual skills from old to young. Fathers, grandfathers, and other men held the smallest mallet (kine) with small children as they pounded rice together. At tables outdoors grandmothers and mothers guided girls’ hands as they formed the sticky clumps of rice into bite-size pieces of the same size and shape. In the kitchen grandmothers and mothers guided young girls as they prepared and served topping (kinoko) and green tea. In many cases such practice was followed by children doing it themselves. That’s how people keep their traditions alive, and it’s a great way to support young parents who want to raise their children in a healthy and supportive community.

Merry Christmas!

Grass in foreground, tree left middle, river flowing from middle to mid left, low mountain centered in background.

Yasugawa and Bodaiji on Christmas Day 2013.

This year Christmas Day in Ritto City is fairly warm and sunny. In Japan it’s an ordinary work day. Of course in cities, we can see a lot of illumination display, and there are many events, bargain sales, etc., especially for college students and other young folks with money. It’s purely commercial. I suppose I’m just getting old, but to me Christmas Day is a good day to take it easy and count my blessings.

Sounds of Mochitsuki at Hayama Danchi

Neighborhood adults and children are making mochi (Japanese rice cake). We take turns pounding the rice. Adults help and encourage children to keep this winter tradition alive in rural Japan.

Rice pounding

Rice folding

More photos of the event are on Flikr: Hayama Danchi 2013 Mochitsuki.