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Feb 2005
Issue 057

Out now!


NARA Feb. 3

"Fortune in! Devils out!" Fuku-wa-uchi!
Oni-wa-soto! This is the battle cry that accompanies spectacular pitched battles fought between Buddhist deities and demons with flaming torches. This ritual of driving out demons marks the end of the lunar calendar's winter. It seems the weapon of choice against the oni (demons) is roasted soya beans. Originally the driving out of the oni, representative of driving out evil, was achieved with boisterous bean throwing, and are, of course, driven out by defenders of good. The beans are said to represent sowing seeds and the impregna-tion of the world with new life — and what better time to perform this demon chasing ceremony than at the start of the new lunar calendar? Watch out for the lucky beans thrown into the crowds around Kofuku-ji
in Nara.

If you are staying at home and still want to get into the spirit of Setsubun, you can throw beans in each room of the house with the cry, "Fuku-wa-uchi," then beans out of each window, "Oni-wa-soto!". It is then customary to eat the same number of beans as your age, plus one for the coming year, to ensure health, good luck and prosperity, then complete the custom by eating an uncut sushi roll in silence while facing in the year's lucky direction.

Kofuku-ji, Nara
Time: 18:30 Oni comes out, get there well before
Getting there: Short walk from Kintetsu Nara station toward Nara park — watch out for the five-storied pagoda.
Tel: 0742-22-7755

Chinese New Year

KOBE Feb 9th

Just when you thought you were getting to grips with your new year resolution not to eat or drink too much and to do more exercise, another celebration rears its festive head. Happy Chinese New Year! 2005, the year of the rooster (hen or cock) flies in today and Nanking Machi pulls out all the stops to make this a fire-cracking event. The religious ritual and the opening ceremony are followed by a colourful parade of people dressed as Chinese traditional classical performers.

All shops and stores remain open as various attractions and events are laid on. Many restaurants will serve traditional Chinese New Year set meal for ¥2,500 and to get you in the celebratory mood Chinese alcohol drunk only on New Year day will be available. Finally there is shi-shi-mai, the Lion Dance. Festivities continue the following day too.

Chinatown, Nanking Machi, Kobe
Time: 10:30-17:30
Getting there: South of JR Motomachi Station
Tel: 078-322-2896

Hello Kitty — Valentine World

OSAKA Feb. 11-13

The mouthless cat that roared could be a good description of this cute feline phenomenon that has become a multi-billion dollar industry. Fans will be in their element to participate
in this three-day extravaganza. There will be all kinds of merchandise, or should I say, social communications gifts as Sanrio, the maker of these charming characters would have us call it, to include art, collectibles and games, as well as new items hot off the press waiting to be purchased. Entertainment is also on the agenda. Each day kicks off with a schedule of music, dance, contests and other attractions to promote and market Kitty and other characters.

In May 1994 Hello Kitty was made the child ambassador of UNICEF in Japan, a role taken seriously because in celebration of its 30-year anniversary (Yes, Hello Kitty is 30 in human years!) $150,000 will be donated to the US Fund for UNICEF for girls' education programs. Perhaps she isn't such a dumb cat after all.

Osaka Dome
Time: 10:00-17:00
Getting there: Osaka Dome-Mae Chiosaki Station
Entry: ¥1,700, Elemetary student ¥900
Tel: 06-6947-1912

The Tokyo Ballet — Bejart Gala

SHIGA Feb. 27

Illustrious dancer and Choreographer, Maurice Bejart, who runs the Bejart Ballet Lausanne choreographs The Tokyo Ballet with four famous pieces starting with, Danses Grecques to the music of Greek composer, Mikis Theodorakis. This is followed by Bhakti III, which explores the relationship between the Hindu dieties, Shiva and Shakti. The word Bhakti means devotion and Bejart's fascination with mysticism can be detected when you listen to the traditional Indian music that accompanies this piece. The evening rounds off with Mozart's Don Giovanni
and Bolero by Maurice Ravel. The dances and themes chosen reflect Bejart's globalness and his unique expressionist style which includes all genre of music, nontraditional dance forms and unusual settings. Main dancers are Yukie Iwaki, Shu Nakashima, Mizuka Ueno, Haruo Goto, Mika Yoshioka and Naoki Takagishi.

Biwako Hall
Time: 14:00
Getting there: 5mins from Otsu station
Entry: ¥3,000-¥8,000
Tel: 077-523-7136 • www.biwako-hall.or.jp

Events compiled by Mylene Oishi

Kansai Event Listings

February 1-5
Ya-Ya Festival
An annual festival that features a procession in which the chief priest wears a fake lion head and virtually nude young men encourage the procession with their powerful chants. Archery is another attraction.
Owase Shrine, Mie Prefecture
Getting there: Owase stn. on JR Kise line
Tel: 05972-3-8262

February 2-4
Mibu Kyogen
Setsubun is a traditional ceremony to dispel demons. Mibu Kyogen is an exciting colourful spectacle famous throughout Japan. All the performers wear masks, some of which date back to the 13th century. The stylized movements, the costumes and spectacular scenes make the drama easy to understand. Great entertainment.
Mibu Temple, Kyoto City
Time: 13:00-17:30
Getting there: Bus from Kyoto station to Shijobo-jo
Entry: Adults ¥800
Tel: 075-841-3381

February 3
Also known as Oniyarai or Onioi, an annual event that began during the reign of Emperor Monmu (AD 697-708) to celebrate the start of spring. Seven ogres wielding torches dance to the sound of conches and drums. Five boys act as sword bearers and a dozen stage managers take part in this traditional divine ceremony that celebrates the coming of another spring.
Nagata Shrine, Kobe
Time: 14:00-18:30
Getting there: Kosoku Nagata station
Tel: 078-303-1010

February 3
Lantern Festival
More than 3,000 lanterns either standing in the precincts or hung from the eaves of the building are lit, presenting an enchanting and illuminated sight.
Kasuga Shrine, Nara
Getting there: Bus from JR/Kintetsu Nara stations to Kasuga-taisha-mae
Tel: 0742-22-7788

February 3-6
The sound of music
From Broadway to Osaka, the unforgetta-ble musical that tells the tale of a romance between a nun and a captain with seven children and their plight to escape from the Nazis. Do-Re-Mi and My Favourite Things, to name but two tunes that most people can hum to.
Festival Hall, Osaka
Time: 3rd & 4th: 18:30, 5th & 6th: 13:00 & 18:00
Getting there: Above Higobashi station on the Yotsubashi line
Entry: ¥6,300~¥12,600
Tel: 06-6231-2221 www.festivalhall.jp

February 5-6
Fishing Show Osaka 2005
Exhibition and sale of fishing tackle and leisure items under the theme of, 'Let's Make Fishing More Fun!' Many participa-tory attractions are planned including seminars on fishing techniques. Visitors can actually experience trout fishing. Exciting event for everyone.
Intex Osaka, Venue Hall 3,6AB
Time: 9:00-17:00
Getting there: Nanko Cosmos Square
Entry: ¥1,200
Tel: 06-6531-0987

February 6
Onda Matsuri
This fertility festival attempts to stay true to life. Two masked dancers graphically simulate copulation even getting down to mop up the ground with tissue paper when the act is done. This paper, torn into little bits, is then scattered over the bystand-ers, who fight for the right to a piece.
Asukani-imasu Shrine, Asuka village
Getting there: Kintetsu Asuka
Tel: 0742-22-5595

February 11
Wine Festival
Hundreds of wines from around the world to taste with a 20 percent discount on all purchases. Special events include a Can-adian display of product, Canadian beer tasting, wine tasting contests, live music, a champagne seminar and a lottery.
Kobe Sheraton Hotel, Kobe
Time: Noon - 20:00
Entry: ¥2,000. (¥2,500 at the door)
Wine Seminar: ¥2,000
Getting there: A minute from Island Center station on the Rokko Liner
Tel: 078-857-7000

February 11-13
Osaka Auto Messe 2005
Rediscover the fun of dressing up and tuning up is the theme behind this, the biggest motor event in Kansai. Exhibits include a wide range of tuned-up and dressed-up cars, both domestic and imported, and more custom-made motorbikes than ever. You can't miss this three-day blowout, according to
the organizer.
Intex Osaka
Time; 9.00-18:00 (13th until 17:00)
Entry: ¥2,500 Adults, Children free
Tel: 06-6458-0300

February 13
Osaka born conductor, Seikyo Kim conducts the Orchestra Ensemble Kanazawa through two of Beethoven's great works, opus 36 symphony No.2 and opus 55 symphony No.3. An afternoon concert to get you in the mood for Valentine's day.
Yamato Koriyama-jyo Hall
Time: 16:00
Entry: ¥2,500-¥4,500
Getting there: 7mins from Yamato Koriyama subway stn.
Tel: 0743-54-8000

February 14
While many people celebrate Valentine's day with family, friends or loved ones, hoards will descend on Hase-dera where huge fire torches are lit. The sparks from them are then showered down on the people to chase away devil spirits.
Hase-dera, Sakurai City
Getting there: Subway from Hase-dera stn
Tel: 0744-47-7001

February 25
A tea party hosted by Kyoto maiko
and geiko is held amongst the fragrant blossoming plum trees. Participants enjoy seasonal sweets, tea and a
kaiseki meal.
Kitano Tenmangu Shrine, Kyoto
Getting there: Bus from JR Kyoto station
Tel: 075-461-0005



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