Hello, my name is Remco and I will be reporting once in while from Hirado, located in the north of Nagasaki Prefecture.
I am originally from the Netherlands but I have been working and living in Hirado for 7 years now. Nagasaki city is famous for having a long relation with the Netherlands, after all the Dejima Network is called after the Dutch Trading Post in Nagasaki, Dejima.
But did you know that both the Chinese, Portuguese and the Dutch traded in Hirado long before they moved to Nagasaki city? The head of a Chinese trading network established his base in Hirado and brought the Portuguese (1550) and later the Dutch (1609) to Hirado. Eventually the English also set up a trading post in Hirado, exactly 400 years ago actually, in 1613!
Those who have been to Hirado probably know that you can still see many signs of this international history. Two years ago a reconstruction of a warehouse of the Dutch Trading Post was rebuilt in its original style. It’s a beautiful building and it is said it was originally the first real western style building in Japan, built in 1639.
It is now open as a museum where you can read all about the international trading that was going on in Hirado. They are English explanations throughout the museum and they have a free Tablets on loan with app that include all the information about what is on display and about items in the archives.
The Portuguese, Dutch and English introduced many different things to Japan while they were in Hirado. For example Bread, Refined Sugar, Paint, Tabacco, Beer but also paint and new building techniques, such as stone arch technique which they used for the doors of the warehouse. Therefore the old stone bridge that you can find in Hirado is nicknamed `The Dutch Bridge` because it uses that building method.
So if you ever come to Hirado, come and visit the Dutch Trading Post, you can learn all about how the first western nations traded in Japan.
The Hirado Dutch Trading Post is beautifully located at the entrance of Hirado harbour so you also have a beautiful view over the Straight of Hirado, where still many ships pass through. You can imagine how the old Gallions sailed here 400 to 450 years ago!
On November 23d 2012, in the Bunkyo campus, the main campus of Nagasaki university, was held the Nagasaki university festival, 23 and 24th, at the same day of friday 23, The NUFSA organized his 10th International culture day.
At this evet event many people, japanese, nagasaki citizen and foreign people living in Nagasaki, gathered to taste the special menu offered by international students: Korean food, Indonesian menu, Bangladesh menu, Tacos taste from Mexican master with El latin american students. Kenyan donut and Benin-Nigerian Gombo menu.
People could breath to the rythm of Japanese traditional dance, Chinese mask dance performance, Korean student dance withGangnam style, Indonesian and Bangladesh song, the Belly dancers , Street dance performance and african dance.
Tthanks to all could attend to this event and great acknowledgement to the Dejima network for the promotion of this culture day, where we could meet the nice and warm Yamaguchi san.
Next time never miss the NUFSA activities and programmes, you will have great opportunity to meet various peole and culture while enjoying your stay in Nagasaki.
Just feel Good
Chinese mask performance
Japanese traditional dance performed by international students of NU
street dance performance
Naru is a tiny island off the coast of Japan which has a festival where the local men throw mochi from boats to the women and children of the village. Mochi is a special kind of food from Japan. Its festival happens every year in October, and this year I was lucky enough to be able to follow the men all day covering the event.
Flags decorate the boats for the festival
Naru is located amoungst a cluster of islands off the coast of Nagasaki called Goto. It has a low population, and I get the impression the town on the island is a fishing town. There are few shops, but Naru has a great karaoke bar, and a great Okunchi festival.
The festival starts at a shrine near one of the ports, and the men, dressed in white traditional clothing carry a miniature shrine from the main building of a shrine, to a boat waiting for them at the port, chanting as they go. They load the shrine and drums onto the boat, and then they, along with a bunch of other boats sail to a cave about 25 minutes away, to pray and throw mochi. Sometimes they make the mochi with coins inside, to increase the offering to the God. From what I understood, the belief is that the God resides in the cave, and the men go to pray and offer the mochi to it, but my Japanese can be a bit wobbly when talking to older men from an island in Japan. They then sail to the main port, where the women and children (and some men) are waiting for them, and they proceed to throw bags of mochi at the crowd. Once this is complete, they unload the boat, and carry the miniature shrine around the town, stopping at local shops where they are offered beer, sake, and snacks! The local shopkeepers also have a chance to pray to the shrine. The shrine is returned to the main shrine at the end of the festival.
Below are the photos from the festival, along with captions to explain what is happening. I had a great day, I hope you enjoy the photos and have found this informative! Please, leave a comment below!
The shrine where the festival started and finished
A quick cigarette before the hard work begins
Final preparations for the shrine
The men walk carrying the shrine. Everyone is in close quarters
The shrine is carried on the men’s shoulders
Everyone arrives at the boat, ready to load it
Ready to load the shrine onto the boat
The men load the boat
Pushing the shrine up onto the boat
Waiting for the boat to sail, preparations complete
Boats go in convoy to the cave
The boats line up in front of the cave before the men pray to the God.
Heading to the main port of Naru to throw Mochi at the women
A boy prepares the mochi
The mochi is ready. Waiting to arrive at the port.
Children try to get as much mochi as they can from the boat
Crowds of people receive mochi from the men on the boats
When all the mochi is gone, the men unload the boat.
Beer, sake, snacks are offered to all the men of the festival.
After a quick beer, the men prepare to take the shrine around the town
Setting off around town
Making their way to the first shop
Taking a quick rest at one of the shops in town.
And the men are about to go again
At each shop the shrine stops at, the men lift the heavy shrine many times over. It looked dangerous.
The leader waits in front of the shrine
The shrine being carried through the streets
Men of the festival.
Occasionally some of the men are forced to down some beers while the others cheer them on!
Pushing the shrine
A taiko drummer keeps all the chants in time
Enjoying more beer!
By PAUL COATES PHOTO ( www.PaulCoatesPhoto.com/blog )
On the 23rd of this month the INTERNATIONAL CULTURE DAY will be held at Nagasaki Unversity,presented by the Nagasaki Unversity Foreign Students Association (NUFSA). Bring your friends, come on down and say hello :-)we’re looking forward to meeting lots of you on the day!!
Suwa Shrine’s huge autumn festival “Nagasaki Kunchi” is starting just around the corner!!
Click here for an English guide to Nagasaki Kunchi ^^
Those of you who live in Nagasaki should definitely come to see this festival!