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July 2004
Issue 050

Special 50th Issue!

Gion Festival (Matsuri)

Kyoto July 1-17

This is Kyoto's most renowned summer event, attracting crowds in the thousands. Its origin dates back to the Heian period (869) when an epidemic was sweeping the city. At that time residents erected 66 tall spears (hoko) each representing a province in Japan and prayers were offered to end the illness.
Over the years, the spears have been replaced by giant wheeled floats, each topped by a tall spear-like pole. The grand procession (Yamahoko-junko), is the highlight of this month-long festival when 32 magnificently decorated floats on wheels are steered through the streets of this ancient city, while the musicians on board play music known as, gion-bayashi. The smaller floats known as yama, are carried on the shoulders and have life-size historical or mythical characters in them. Every year a boy is chosen to ride
on the main float that will head the procession.
July 1: Osendo The opening of the festival. Preliminary rituals are performed to pray for the success of Gion Festival. Among those who attend the rite will be the chosen young boy who will wear full make-up and traditional costume. The festival musicians and carpenters who build the floats also attend.

Yasaka Shrine @ 10:00
Getting there: Short walk from Hankyu Kawaramachi Stn.
Tel: 075-561-6155
July 1-5: Kippu-iri Several of Kyoto's communities pray for a safe and successful festival. In certain cases, Shinto priests from Yasaka Shrine go there to offer prayers and tamagushi, sacred tree branches.
Each community has its own schedule.
July 2: Kuji-tori This is when lots are drawn to decide which float will go first, second, third ...
Kyoto City Office in the morning.
July 17: Nine in the morning, the grand procession will proceed along Shijo, Kawaramachi and Oike Street heading west.
Getting there: 3 min. walk from Hankyu Kawaramachi Stn./ Keihan Shijo Stn./bus No: 206 from Kyoto Stn.
Tel: 075-343-6655/ 075-222-4133


Nara July 2

Flamenco is a folk culture indigenous to the province of Anadalusia in Spain. This tripartite art involves the song (cante), the dance (baile) and the guitar (toque) as well as other elements of rhythmic accompaniment, such as hand clapping, finger snapping and tongue clicking. The Miguel Angel Flamenco Ballet Company will captivate the audience by performing Alegrias, Farruca, Fandangos, Rumba and Solea Por Bulerias. Each piece
is defined by its own melodic, rhythmic and harmonic structures. During the dances, performers often shout words of encourage-ment known as, jaleo.
One word you will hear often is, ole! meaning great, wonderful. You can catch them in Nara which is one of the stops on their Japan tour. Ole!

Nara Prefecture Cultural Hall
19:00 • Entry: ¥4,000 (advance), ¥4,500 (at the door)
Getting there: 5 Minutes from Nara Kintetsu station
Tel: 0742-22-0200

Yukata Parade

Osaka July 19

This event starts off at the Nikko Hotel, where hundreds of yukata-clad young ladies, contestants of The Yukata Mode Contest, will strut their stuff just like in the Miss World contest, before parading down Shinsaibashi-suji. Located east of Mido-suji this is one of the best shopping streets in Minami Osaka, famous for its variety of shops and department stores. There will be entertainers and musicians and Miyane, who often appears on Osaka TV, will be the MC.
The yukata is a summer cotton kimono and one person from the parade will be chosen to receive the grand prize which is a trip to Hawaii. The announcement will be made in front of Daimaru department store.

Nikko Hotel, 5F. Shinsaibashi. @ 14:00
The parade time: 16:30
Starting point at Parco, Shinsaibashi proceeding to Opaque Osaka, ending up in front of Daimaru department store.
How to get there: Shinsaibashi station on the Midosuji line
http://www.shinsaibashi.or.jp/ (English page)

Summer Wine Festival


Here's your chance to sample wines from all over the world at this popular annual wine festival. Over 20 import companies, from many countries from Europe, the Americas, Africa, Australia, will display close to 400 different wines for tasting and buying. During the course of the day there will be wine activities to keep you entertained such as the wine tasting contest with prizes for the winners, as well as three wine tasting seminars (in Japanese). At the Thai booth, Mr Chan,
a DJ on FM Cocolo will give a talk about Thailand, and there will be fruit/soap carving demonstrations as well musical performances. That's not all. Your admission ticket could have the lucky number to win you two airline tickets to Thailand. Don't be disappointed if you don't win as there will be lots of other giveaways and 20% off all purchases.
For those of you worried about getting home after fully savouring the delectable delights of the fruit of many vines, why not stay the night. The reasonably priced 'festival' room rate, might tempt you to do just that.

Kobe Bay Sheraton Hotel & Towers, 3F Banquet Room
Time: 12:00 noon - 20:00
Price: ¥2,000. ¥2,500 at the door
(There is a small charge to taste rare, expensive wines.
Wine seminars are free, but reservation required)
Overnight plan: 1 room/double occupancy ¥13,500 to include
entrance to the festival, tax and service.
Getting there: A minute from Island Center Station on the
Rokko Liner, or bus from Sannomiya or Shin Kobe.
Tel: 078-857-7000
[email protected]


Events compiled by Mylene Oishi


Kansai Event Listings

July 2
The New York all-male comic ballet company, full name: Les Ballets Trockar-dero De Monte Carlo, but affectionately called "the Trocks", start off their Kansai tour in Kobe. Men in tutus perform classical ballet with their own humorous and quirky angle.
@ Kobe Kokusai Kaikan
Entry: ¥6,000/¥8,000 Time: 19:00
Getting there: 3-min from Sannomiya Stn.
Tel: 078-231-8162

July 4
Festival to the Wind God
This is the first summer festival in the Yamato region and its origin can be traced back to the time of Emperor Temmu. A ceremony dedicated to the God of Wind to protect the land from typhoon, for safety in the air and for a good harvest. Taiko (drums) will beat to calm the wind, knights will offer their martial art performances to the Gods.
@ Tatsuta Shrine, Nara
Ceremony at 10:00. Fireworks at 21:00
Admission: Free
Getting there: 20min from Horyuji stn.
Tel: 0745-73-1138

July 4
Bolshoi Ballet
The Bolshoi Ballet Academy of Moscow will perform "La Bayadere", and "Swan Lake". Dancers of the academy are the budding ballet stars of the future. The youngest dancers in the troupe are aged 10. Their Kansai tour begins in Hyogo, before moving on to Kobe, Suita & Nara
@ Kagogawa Shimin Kaikan, Hyogo
Time: 14:00. Entry: ¥1,500~
Getting there: Short bus ride from Kakogawa station
Tel: 0749-24-5381

Til July 11
Ice-cream Fair
100 types of ice-cream available.
Among all the usual ices there will be
the unusual. Vegetable flavor and seafood flavor to name but two.
@ Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan, Minato ward. Time: 10:00 - 20:00
Admission: Free
Tel: 06-6576-5501

July 11- 14
Summer Festival
The largest Danjiri festival in Osaka City. Nine ornately decorated Danjiri floats are pulled around the town. These floats are valuable cultural assets, ancient and spectacular, they are the highlight of many festivals.
@ Kumata Shrine, Osaka
Getting there: 10min walk from Hirano station on JR Kansai Line

July 14
Nachi Fire Festival
A major annual festival on Mt. Nachi. 12 portable shrines are carried down from the main shrine. Half way down they meet 12 large and small torches on their way up from the base of the mountain. Amidst a shower of falling sparks,the portable Shrines and torches proceed to the great waterfall. Measuring a whopping 130m, makes it the longest waterfall in Japan.
@ Kumano Nachi Shrine, Wakayama
Getting there: From JR Kiikatsu-ura Stn, 30min bus ride to Jinja-Otera Mae.
Tel: 0735-55-0321

July 16
Emma Service
In Christian tradition, St Peter stands at the gate of heaven allowing the good people in and sending the others away. In Buddhism, the heaven deity who does this is known as, Emma.
@ Byakugo-ji (temple)
Time: 10:00 Admission: ¥400
How to get there: From Nara JR/Kintetsu stations, bus to Wari-ishi Cho
Tel: 0742-26-3392

July 17
A ceremony to protect against diseases during the summer months. It originated during the reign of Empress Komyo, who donated mosquito nets to citizens to protect them from epidemics. Nuns will chant sutras.
@ Hokke-Ji, Time: 17:00
Nearest station: Saidai-ji station.
Tel: 0742-33-2261

July 18
Lunch time concert
Soprano, Kayoko Yamao will delight all by singing those unforgettable songs we all know and love, such as Danny Boy and Summertime.
@ Kita Community Center, ISTA Habataki
Getting there: 10min bus ride from Tomio station. Admission: Free.
Tel: 0743-71-3331

July 24-25
Opera — Der Zigeunerbaron
This Summer Opera Biennale opens with "Der Zigeunerbaron" (The Gipsy Baron) by Johann Strauss II. An opera — though some might call it an operetta — with a splendid mixture of waltzes and drama, directed by Hiroshi Wakasugi.
@ Biwako Hall, Shiga.
Performance: 14:00
Tickets: ¥3,000~.
Getting there: From Otsu station, 5mins bus ride to 'Biwako Hall Mae'.
Tel: 077-523-7133

July 24 to 25
Tenjin Festival
This festival of fire and water is the
most popular summer event in Osaka. Paraders wear traditional costumes and carry exquisite portable shrines from Osaka Temmangu Shrine to Tenjin Bridge. On 25th evening, a magnificent fireworks display lights up the sky.
@Temmangu Shrine, Kita ward, Osaka
Getting there: 5 mins from Osaka Temmangu station on JR Tozai line or Minamimori machi subway station.
Tel: 06-6353-0025

July 27 & 28
Ine Festival
This 300 years old festival is known as Gion Matsuri on the sea. Consists of a parade of boats and dance performanc-es dedicated for safety at sea, a good catch and a good harvest.
@ Ine bay, Kyoto
Getting there: 40 mins from Amanoha-shidate station on Kitakinki Tango Line.



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