This is the rear of a float in the fall festival parade of the Hachiman Shrine in Morioka. The drummers produce a powerful rhythm on the taiko drums, literally, "large drums." Individual floats are associated with neighborhoods of the city. Late into the night, after the parade of all of the floats on the main street, one can hear chants of celebration as individual floats are pulled through their "home" neighborhoods, which is done for the benefit of sick or elderly who could not leave their homes to attend the festival parade.
The children here are arriving at a shrine in late October for the celebration of Shichigosan -- Seven - five - three Day. On this day, girls who are seven or three years old and boys who are five are brought to their shrine in their best dress or in traditional dress for prayers for their well being, for a blessing. -- This particular Shichigosan celebration was on October 28, 2000, and was at the Hachiman Shrine in Morioka. The Hachiman Shrine is the primary Shinto shrine of Morioka, which is in Iwate Prefecture, on the Pacific side of northern most Honshu.
This float,a portable shrine, is from the Hachiman Shrine in Morioka. It is carried from the shrine through the streets on the shoulders of bearers as seen here and is, obviously, a heavy burden. Of secondary interest is the stone wall / embankment that is seen in the background. This is now a park, but was formerly the site of Morioka Castle, which was ordered destroyed in the Meiji era.
The front of another float from the festival parade in Morioka. The large figure portrayed on the float is probably a representation of Benkei, the legendary warrior - priest retainer of Yoshitsune. Yoshitsune is one of the great underdog heroes of Japanese history. He was the brilliant young general who engineered the victory of his elder brother, Yoritomo, leader of the Minamoto clan and founding shogun of the Kamakura Shogunate. Suspecting treachery after he became shogun, Yoritomo sent an army in pursuit Yoshitsune, who escaped northward under the protection of the leader of the so-called northern branch of the Fujiwara clan, based at Hiraizumi, in southern Iwate prefecture. However, informed by the son of the elder leader of the Fujiwara, Yoritomo's forces descended upon Hiraizumi to capture Yoshitsune. At Hiraizumi, Benkei -- who was at least eight feet tall and indestructible -- single-handedly held off Yoritomo's entire army, giving Yoshitsune and his family time to commit suicide and to be burned in their home, rather than suffer the shame of capture by the forces of Yoritomo. The story of Yoshitsune and Benkei is a great theme of Japanese literature and provided, e.g., the basis for the great Noh play, Ataka, and the very popular Kabuki play, Kanjincho, based on Ataka. Hiraizumi is perhaps one half hour or so south of Morioka by train.
This is a photograph of a typical shopping arcade; such arcades are fairly common in Japanese cities. The arcade is three or four blocks long, is covered by the roof the entire length of the arcade, and, of course, is open only to foot traffic and bicycles. The variety of shops in the arcade is great and includes, in the instance of this specific arcade, the following shops, as well as others --hard ware store, fish market, fruit and vegetable shops, pharmacy / variety store, McDonald's restaurant, beauty shop, clothing stores, tea ware gallery, pachinko parlor, bread bakery shop, Mister Donut shop, and a 100-Yen store (a bargain store). [other images in this colletion will show some of these individual shops]
As described in image 000058, this young boy has been brought to the Hachiman Shrine in Morioka, for the celebration of Shichigosan, Seven-five-three Day, when prayers are offered for the good fortune of girls who are seven or three years old and for boys who are five years old. This young lad, hoping that his father takes the photo quickly, because the sun in his eyes is bright, is dressed in his best formal traditional dress.
This is the computer classroom in a middle school in Japan. The computers are used to complete assignments from other classes, as well as for instruction in computer class, per se, so that the students are learning to employ computers across the curriculum.