Japanese Lantern Lighting Festival 2013

Yes, I made it here two years in a row. I am impressed by how on top of this I was. I finally have it programmed into my calendar: the third Sunday of August (okay, getting it into Google Calendar was a challenge in its own right, but that’s another matter), And to add to the stupendousness, this year I brought the real camera, so the photos are halfway decent (the other half has to do with my lack of photographic wonder skills. Photoshop Elements can only correct so much).

We were lucky enough to have another beautiful, if windy, day this year. The taiko drummers and the children doing traditional dances were fine, but the koto players needed volunteers from the audience to hold the music open.

Taiko drummers.

Kogen Taiko. It’s a lot like the photo I took last year—but this year it’s in focus!

Children doing traditional Japanese dances.

Dancers from Sansei Yonsei Kai. Maybe the color of the kimono depends on the age of the dancer? The one in white was definitely younger than the others.

Koto players.

Sakura Kai (and brave, music-holding volunteers).

I ended up seated under the same tree as last year. If you’re willing to sit on mulch, it’s a great location for viewing the stage. The tree looked much healthier this year, and almost none of its leaves had been devoured. (yay!).

This was a popular kimono design. I have no idea if it signifies something, or if it was being sold on the grounds and was a popular souvenir, but several people, especially children, were wearing it. Note that the woman next to him is holding one too.

kimono_jllf2013

I don’t have much interest in the martial arts generally, but I caught the kyudo (Japanese archery) demonstration. Unfortunately, still photos don’t do it much justice. If I’m remembering archery from high school PE correctly, we held the bow and pulled the bowstring towards our heads. I don’t know exactly what these archers were doing, but it looked as if they held the bowstring steady (it’s caught by a little “hook” on their gloves) and pushed the bow forward.

Archer.

Archer from Minnesota Kyudo Renmei.

The remodeling of the Japanese garden that had been underway during the festival last year was completed this spring. Indeed, much of the reason I went this year was to check out the garden. Which, yes, I could have done for most of this summer, but did I? I need that extra bit of motivation. And now that I’ve seen it, I need to make myself go back and go through it when there aren’t hundreds of other people sharing it with me. Any empty space you see in these photos are a testament to lucky photo timing on my part (quick, while no one’s standing there!) and to the garden’s designers, who made it so easy to hide so many people in such a small space. A koto player and a shakuhachi player were alternating performances on the half hour. I enjoyed their playing, but with nowhere to sit down, I was only able to hear parts of their performances.

Stone slab bridge.

That bridge seemed to be slanted ever-so-slightly towards the water—eep!

jgrdnstatuething_jllf2013 jgrdnwaterfall_jllf2013

Koto player in the Japanese garden.

Fern Davidson, playing the koto in the Japanese Garden.

I couldn’t stay for the lantern lighting ceremony, though. With the taiko performance always scheduled at the beginning of the festival, and the lantern lighting ceremony always the finale, apparently I’m doomed to miss something I like. But the reward for coming early is being able to get steamed pork buns (yum!) before the vendor sells out, so it’s not an utter tragedy.

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