Thursday, July 10, 2008

JJNN Thursday: Culture - 01

Welcome again to JJNN for Thursday July 10th, 2008. Today is Thursday so I will be talking about Japanese culture.

It's summer time. That means one thing in Japan, the summer festival. Well, actually summer means a lot of things like going to the beach and smashing open watermelons as well as going to the mountains and catching beetles and a lot of other things.

This time I am going to take a look at a summer festival, because I love summer festivals. I used to go to one every summer in a city I lived in up north, and I go to one in the city I live in every year. I will talk about those festivals some other time. Today I am going to talk about the festival in this news story.

The name of that festival is the Gion festival. It is probably the most famous festival in all of Japan and it is held in the city of Kyoto which is located in southern Japan. The festival goes on for the entire month of July, but the best part is the parade which is held every year on July 17th. Thousands of people, both form Kyoto and from far away, come and watch the parade on the 17th.

The preparations for the parade started this morning. They started putting together the giant portable shrines that will be used in parade. You can see a picture of the portable shrines that were being worked on this morning and an example of a finished portable shrine below.

There is not only one portable shrine in the parade. The shrines represent different parts of Kyoto and different parts of the country. This year there will be 32 different shrines taking part in the parade. The workers started working on the first 3 shrines (Naginata-boko, Kanko-boko, and Tsuki-hoko) at 8 this morning. The most amazing thing about this construction work is the fact that they don't use nails to put these shrines together. Everything is tied together with a strong natural rope. The shrines are about 25 meters tall and can weight over 10 tons, but still everything is tied together and nothing falls apart.

I wish I could go and see the parade, but that is not going to happen. I guess I will have to wait for videos on youtube.

Any way, it is now time for the word of the day. Today's word is 祭り(まつり). It is pronounced matsuri and means festival. There are, of course, festivals during other times of the year in Japan, but the most famous ones are in the summer. Plus, you can't dress in a yukata in the winter, so what's the point.

That's it for today. See you next time at JJNN.

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