September 20, 2010

Festival at Nakamura Shrine in Moka There are many reasons why we love the city of Moka. Last week showed yet again that the people of Moka are truly exceptional. In fact, they are so exceptional, they deserve a special blog post to show you just how much we love them. And yes, such a post will indeed be coming up soon. In the meantime, let me tell you about yet another reason why we love Moka - the festival at Nakamura Hachimangu. Last year I had to be dragged there kicking and screaming. I wanted to stay home, or at the very least - in the car and read a book. This year, September couldn't come soon enough. And today, I willingly woke up at an ungodly hour ready to head to Moka at the crack of dawn. The festival itself is nothing special. There is yabusame (traditional archery on horseback), there is batto embu taikai (where people wave swords and show off their mad katana skillz), there is a traditional stage play for those with impaired mobility (a very cool feature, I wish more events had something like that!), and there is a mikoshi parade. What makes this event special is the heart that the organizers put in its preparation and execution. People are friendly, accommodating, cheerful and well-meaning. In other words - typical Mokans. I'll be boring you with this festival all week, so get ready. Today, let's start with yabusame. That's the bit where guys (and a gal - there was one girl doing it as well) in traditional costumes get to ride horses and shoot arrows. Not indiscriminately though. There is a path, and there are set targets. Still, it's quite exciting to watch. Turned out he was the captain of a local riding club. No wonder! This older guy ruled the course - I don't think he missed a shot at all. The girl was decent. I remember her performance last year, and this year her skill has visibly improved. And she was kinda pretty too. The boys in the audience really enjoyed her performance. But the other guy (not pictured here), ohmygod. Missed every single shot. In his defense, he did wear very thick glasses. Still, it was sad to watch... To be continued...

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