Tenjin Matsuri 2012

I went to Tenjin Matsuri (天神祭) in Osaka again this year!
This year the festival was on July 24th and 25h. Every year the festival is held around Tenmabashi station area and events are centered around the river and Tenmangu Shrine.

I have been to Tenjin Matsuri in the past, multiple times in fact, but I can’t seem to find any past blog entries about it here on JapanNewbie. Maybe I never got around to blogging it!

Tenjin Matsuri is one of the “big three” festivals in Japan (日本三大祭り). The other two festivals in the big three are Gion Festival (祇園祭) in Kyoto, and Kanda Festival (神田祭) in Tokyo.

Tenjin Maturi 2012

  • Osaka Tenjin Matsuri 2012. Not all Japanese food is healthy.
  • Osaka Tenjin Matsuri 2012. Tenjin Matsuri is one of those festivals that ends in a fireworks display!
  • Osaka Tenjin Matsuri 2012
  • Osaka Tenjin Matsuri 2012
  • Osaka Tenjin Matsuri 2012. These boats filled with drumming and dancing are the main event at this festival.
  • Osaka Tenjin Matsuri 2012
  • Osaka Tenjin Matsuri 2012. The river is lined with food stalls.
  • Osaka Tenjin Matsuri 2012
  • Osaka Tenjin Matsuri 2012. Catch live turtles with a hoop that has a thin sheet of paper in it. You can catch as many as you can until the paper breaks.
  • Osaka Tenjin Matsuri 2012. Cucumber on a stick! With salt! Delicous summer snack.
  • Osaka Tenjin Matsuri 2012. Various fruits covered in sugary goodness.
  • Osaka Tenjin Matsuri 2012
  • Osaka Tenjin Matsuri 2012
  • Osaka Tenjin Matsuri 2012
  • Osaka Tenjin Matsuri 2012

There are lots of festivals in Japan. Lots. Most have a deep cultural history and have been practiced for centuries. According to the Japanese Wikipedia entry for Tenjin Matsuri, this festival started in the year 951 on June 1st.

Most festivals take place during the summer, so if you are ever going to be in Japan between June and August it would be in your best interest to try to figure out where the festivals are happening and try to attend a few.

Festivals are great. Here are some things that you will be able to experience at most Japanese festivals, beyond the cultural and historical aspects!

1. Festivals are a chance to wear your summer yukata and hit the town.

If you go to a festival you’ll be able to see the latest Yukata fashions for both men and women. These days it seems that a particular style of “sexy” yukata is popular among the ladies… Most adults hate it. Basically girls these days wear their yukatas in ways that they were not meant to be worn. Some have them draped off of both shoulders! Too sexy! I mean, I’m not complaining, but it is certainly not the traditional way to wear a summer yukata.

2. Festivals are an excuse to stay out relatively late and drink on the street.

The streets are usually blocked off for festivals and tons of food vendors are out selling their wares. Also, it’s legal to drink on the street in Japan, so you can grab a beer and go about your business. I believe that during some of the larger festivals the train schedules are adjusted in some cities to allow people to get home a little later than normal. Regardless, usually the festivals have some big event with a scheduled end time, and they stick to the schedule. Tenjin Matsuri had a fireworks display that ended promptly at 9pm.

3. A chance to try lots of delicious (yet not cheap) Japanese festival food!

I posted pictures of some of the festival food in that SmugMug gallery. As you can see, not all Japanese food is healthy. It’s a lot of fun though! Some of the typical festival snacks that I did not take photos of include yakisoba, okonomiyaki, also a festival dish called hashimaki, which is basically okonomiyaki wrapped around a pair of chopsticks. They also serve various forms of fruit and meat on a stick. Castela is also popular, which is a sort of bite-sized cake. Gotta love it.

Video Clip, Click to Play
Video Clip, Click to Play

So what are your favorite things about Japanese festivals? Got any favorites?

One festival I have never been to yet really need to try is Neputa Matsuri up north!

Looking forward to the next festival!

Related links:
The official Tenjin Matsuri webpage.
Tenjin Matsuri Japanese Wiki page.
Kishiwada Danjiri Mastsuri from 2007
Handa Matsuri from 2004
Hamamatsu Kite Festival from 2008

And more! Just search the blog for “matsuri” or “festival” and I’m sure more will come up!

By the way, I store all my photos and videos with SMUGMUG now. It’s really great. Unlimited storage. No limits on the size of the files that can be uploaded. Awesome privacy settings and whatnot. I can even embed the stuff into WordPress easily as you can see here. Anyway, if you try it sign up with my introduction link here and I’ll get $10 bucks credit towards my renewal. Yay!

Japanese Craft Beer in Osaka – QBrick

I have a sudden interest in Japanese craft beers. I’m no expert, but I like beer.

Japan has already made an international name for itself with Japanese whiskey, and now it seems that Japanese beer is also getting some attention.

One of my friends in Shanghai mentioned that Japanese craft beer is pretty amazing, and after I arrived in Osaka for this trip one of the first things I noticed was a Kansai Scene article about local craft beer and an upcoming beer festival.

I have a long list of places in Kansai that serve craft beer, but my first stop was QBrick!

QBrick has an amazing list of international beers, but they also have a selection of 8 to 10 local Japanese beers as well. The list of Japanese beers changes depending on what is in stock, so it’s fun to check back from time to time to see if anything new has been added to the menu.

I also went for lunch once and tried their excellent hamburg steak. The price was very reasonable as well!

QBrick is a short walk from the Yodoyabashi subway station. Highly recommended.

Go there!

Related Links:
Osaka Town Clip: QBrick

You can also follow me on Instragram. I’m “JapanNewbie” there too.


My Haphazard list of Kansai Craft Beer Bars

Osaka: Higobashi / Beer bar
Tosabori 1-1-30, Osaka River Building 1F. [on the N (river) side of the little road that runs alongside the river, between Higobashi (bridge) and Chikuzenbashi (bridge), 4 doors E of the latter] Open 5-midnight. Closed Sundays.


Address: Osaka-fu, Sakai-shi, Kita-ku Nakamozucho 2-71 B1F
Phone: 072-255-8317

大阪府大阪市中央区平野町4-6-12 京音ビル,1F
TEL: 06-6203-0690FAX: 06-6203-0690

大阪府大阪市中央区平野町4‐6‐12 京音ビル1F

1-22-12 Kitahorie, Nishi-ku
Osaka, Japan 550-0014 [ print map ]
(06) 6539-7550 
Near Yotsubashi and Nishiohashi

Standing bar 1020
天神橋5-6-23 (一松食品センター), 大阪市北区, 大阪府 530-0041, Japan
Hitotsumatsu Food Center, 5-6-23 Tenjinbashi, Kita-ku
Osaka, Japan

Kyoto has
Tadg’s Irish Bar and Restaurant
Beer Cafe Bakujun
Yamaoka Sakaten

Kasagumo – Umbrella Cloud


New words! More culture!

I recently learned the word “kasagumo.” I think I first heard it when I was visiting a Japanese art museum with a friend (@guideyu) and she was surprised I didn’t know the term. It bothers me when Japanese phrases come up in everyday conversation that I don’t recognize… so I looked it up! Here it is.

After hearing the description of a “kasagumo,” basically a cloud that covers or hovers over the top of a mountian, I thought that the characters would be 傘 (kasa, as in umbrella) 雲 (cloud). It seems that the official characters are 笠雲, but 傘雲 is so widely used you might as well count it.

In fact 笠 is simply another character which also means “umbrella,” so it seems they are interchangeable.

The technical name for this type of cloud is Lenticularis [Wikipedia].

Fujiyama Kasagumo

There are actually different types of Kasagumo.

This informational Japanese website about Mout Fuji has a chart that shows the different types of Kasagumo and their names.

Image from http://fujisan.yamakei.co.jp

You can do a Google Image search for “kasagumo” to see many photos of kasagumo in the wild. You can also search for kasagumo in Japanese for many more.

Here is a YouTube video of a Kasagumo forming and dissipating over Mount Fuji.

Has anyone out there ever seen a Kasagumo in the wild??? I haven’t!

Gion Matsuri 2012

Gion Matsuri is here again! I have been a few times before, in 2004 and in 2005 it seems from my old blog entries… quite some time ago…

Gion Matsuri is a multi-day event. This time I went for Yoiyama. During Yoiyama the floats are all lit up and line the streets of Kyoto. The streets were blocked for vehicle traffic… but the human traffic was insane!

Here is an explanation from KyotoGuide.com.

14th-16th: Yoiyama

On the three nights before the grand parade, the festival’s energy reaches its peak. The streets with people looking at the lit up Yama & Hoko floats. Gion Bayashi music fills the air, and countless stalls are set up along the colorfully decorated streets.

Here are some photos! There are a few days of Gion Festival left, so if you’re in the area see if you can check it out!

Gion Matsuri 2012

  • harvey's photo
  • harvey's photo
  • One of the floats, "Hoko," for Gion matsuri in Kyoto.
  • One of the floats, "Hoko," for Gion matsuri in Kyoto.
  • harvey's photo
  • harvey's photo
  • One of the floats, "Hoko," for Gion matsuri in Kyoto.
  • One of the floats, "Hoko," for Gion matsuri in Kyoto.
  • Thousands of people. Streets closed to vehicle traffic for the festival.
  • A pretty typical Japanese couple heading to the festival. The guy's fan has a picture of one of the Gion Festival floats.
  • Gion Matsuri in Kyoto Japan
  • Gion Matsuri in Kyoto Japan
  • Gion Matsuri in Kyoto Japan
  • Gion Matsuri in Kyoto Japan
  • Gion Matsuri in Kyoto Japan

Related Links:
Gion Festival Prep 2004
Gion Matsuri 2005