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かずみさKazMisa
Aug. 20, 2023
Located in Ugo Town, Akita Prefecture, Nishi Baonnai Bon Odori is a summer festival with a history and tradition of more than 700 years, which is counted as one of the three major Bon Odori dances in Japan along with the Gujo Odori of Gifu Prefecture and the Awa Odori of Tokushima Prefecture. The venue is Nishimaonnai Honmachi Street, which is the central village of Ugo Town, and it is a bon event held for 3 days from August 16th ~ 18th every year. It was mysterious and gorgeous to see dancers dressed in distinctive torioi hats (knitted hats), colorful and beautifully stitched kimonos and yukatas, dancing gracefully to the beating of taiko drums and songs. Especially this year, as it was the first regular event in four years, people from outside the town were able to participate in the dance, and many people from inside and outside the prefecture came to see it. Photos of the festival will continue after this, but I hope you can see it.
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Justin Schultz
May. 14, 2023
Went to Fukushima over the Golden Week holiday. On our first day we took a bus to Ouchi-Juku and had a great time looking at all the buildings and different shops. The negi soba (soba with a large leek) is famous there so my girlfriend ended up ordering that. She said it was a bit difficult to eat, but fun and tasted great. We also ended up trying a variety of different snacks in the area. The Age-Manju (deep fried manju) was really tasty and we actually ended up getting again later. I was able to take a photo from the famous photo spot at Ouchi-Juku as well (photo #4). I only have an iPhone camera, so the quality isn't the best, but I'm happy with how it turned out. On the way back from Ouchi-Juku we returned via Yunokami Onsen Station and so we got to use the footbath that was attached to the station. It was a really great way to rest up after walking for so long. The station itself was also really photogenic, so I snapped a couple photos from the platform and between the railroad tracks. The hotel we were staying at for the night was in Aizu-Wakamatsu and on the way we found a nice little shop with a large akabeko cow outside and the staff was kind enough to take a photo of us with it. For dinner, we went to a place called Sassa (左雨) and had a really great time. We ended up talking to the owners for a bit and they were super nice. It was also the best tonkatsu I've eaten in my entire life. It was cooked tp perfection, and the dressing that came with the salad and cabbage matched perfectly with it. We probably ended up eating way too many fried foods but it was all really tasty. The next day we visited Tsuruga Castle. The castle was quite cool, but it was a bit more crowded than Ouchi-Juku. Considering it was Golden Week, it wasn't much of a surprise. Either way we had a great time. We started off going for a boat ride around the moat (I got my daily exercise in, as I was rowing the whole time lol). After that we went up into the castle and were able to see a view of the city from the top which was pretty cool. There were also live performances going on in the field in front of the castle which were fun to watch. At that point it was about lunch time so we went over to the row of food stalls (photo #16) and grabbed a bite to eat. There were shops selling all sorts of goods as well, so we spent some time window shopping. After Tsuruga Castle, we went to Oyakuen Garden (御薬園). We ended up sharing a green tea by the pond and relaxing for a bit which was nice. There were a lot of koi inside the pond and a variety of birds flying around as well, so the atmosphere was very relaxing. Photo #20 is supposedly the best view in the garden (it was written on a sign) so I snapped a photo of it. The photo doesn't do it justice, but it was a really incredible view. All in all, we had a really amazing time in Fukushima, but we definitely would like to visit again, as there's a lot we didn't get to do still. I really wanted to try an akabeko workshop but we didn't get the chance, which was a bit disappointing, but we still had a lot of fun, so I can't complain. I definitely recommend visiting Aizu-Wakamatsu if you have the chance!
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