Saturday, August 26, 2006


The test is over! Yay!! :D
It was much harder than I thought. And I’m still regretting the careless mistake I found in my answers at the very last minute but didn’t have time to fix. AHHHHH!!!! You know how it is.

The passing level is 70% correct answers, and honestly, I have no idea how I did. There may be a lot of other mistakes that I’m not aware of. Mmmm… Well, I’ll find out the result in about a month. Until then, I’m going to forget about the test. It’s over now!
posted by obachan, 8/26/2006 06:56:00 PM | link | 0 comments |

Friday, August 25, 2006


I’m taking a test tomorrow, so I should be studying all day today. If I pass this one, I’ll be certified as a clerk who can handle tasks related to elderly care insurance claims. It is an open-book exam, so I’m not too worried or too pressured, but still I should be studying today. The test will be 25 multiple choices about the insurance claims procedure and other issues related to elderly care, and 2 questions of making billing statements(?) using a list of code numbers and a calculator (the task which is actually taken care of by computer software in real life). Oh well. Wish me luck.
posted by obachan, 8/25/2006 11:56:00 AM | link | 3 comments |

Tuesday, August 22, 2006


I spent the weekend in my hometown with my parents, my younger sister’s two kids and her husband. When we spend some time together at my parents’ house like this, all adult members have to share the duty of playing games with the kids. Last year, it was a card game played with the cards with some anime characters printed on, and this year it was shogi (Japanese chess) and othello game.

It’s amazing how fast the kids learn the rules of the games, and how long their enthusiasm can last. Every morning they came to me with stars in their eyes and game boards in their hands to plead me to play a couple of different shogi games and othello. To stay sane, you really need to be able to answer tactfully. I kept saying, “OK, after you finish your homework,” “OK, after I finish helping your mom and grandma cooking lunch,” “Yeah, let’s play after we finish lunch… and dessert… and taking a nap… ” :P And of course, there were other major events such as swimming in the ocean, barbecuing, shopping, fireworks, etc. between cooking and baking which the kids insisted to help with.

After spending eventful days with the kids, my mom always sighs -- with a relief that the little typhoons are gone, and also with a sad prediction that some day they will grow up and quit spending summer with their grandparents.
posted by obachan, 8/22/2006 12:18:00 PM | link | 0 comments |

Monday, August 14, 2006


Yosakoi festival is our big dance festival held annually in Kochi city from Aug 9th to 12th. It is finally over for this year, and now everything is back to normal, except my sunburnt skin, maybe? Both dancers and staff must be suffering from a sever burnout now. (To find out more about Yosakoi festival, click here.)

Last year I wrote about Yosakoi from a dancer's perspective. This year, I didn't participate as a dancer; I was a designated photographer all the time from Aug 10th to 12th. (I couldn’t afford Yosakoi dance because I had to pay a lot to take some classes this summer.) So this post will tell you what it was like to be a beginner photographer at a crazy outdoor dance festival in August when it was above 34 degrees C.

According to a local newspaper, a total of 187 dance teams, approximately 18,000 dancers participated this year. There were 13 dance venues, but I didn’t want to waste my time visiting many of them. It's not easy to move from one place to another during this festival because of the dancers, onlookers and leading trucks occupying the streets. What really helped me was a neat service they offer to visitors. If you want to find out the whereabouts of your favorite team(s), you can access a website with your cell phone and find out.

* Click on photos to enlarge, except this bear photo. (Maybe some of the links could be dead or wrong. Sorry -- I'll fix the problem(s) soon, but not right now...)

And more photos in slideshow HERE!

もし写真に写っている方で、掲載してほしくないという方がおられましたら、kokopelli_sa88 at hotmail dot com までご連絡下さい。

======== OBIYAMACHI ARCADE =============

You know what I found out as soon as I started my mission? It was the fact that I was a tough luck photographer. I am not talking about my digital camera being slow in saving images after shooting several continuous shots. Yes, I got sick of staring at the sand clock icon turning round and round while good looking dancers passed in front of me. But what was more stressful was that every time I was about to take a great shot, someone or something -- a team staff, dancer's family member holding a video camera, a TV crew, etc. -- always came in front of my camera to block my sight! :O

Many people love to watch the dance parade at this shopping arcade because it is relatively cooler there and they can see the dancers really close. What always amazes me is the skill of experienced flag wavers. The guy in the above photo waved this huge flag real big without letting it touch anyone in the audience or any of the signboards of the shops around. It was really breathtaking.

While I was taking photos there in the arcade, one of the teams started throwing rice cakes from their leading truck to the onlookers. Yes, I got one! :D

There seemed to be an unspoken agreement that press photographers and TV crew can shoot from the best locations. They can even walk into the dance parade and shoot close-ups of the dancers. Such privileged professionals, of course, had huge, expensive cameras, and many enthusiastic amateur photographers were also walking around with two or three good cameras hanging from their shoulders, at least one of which being SLR. Mmmm....

=========== KIDS ==========

To me kids are so adorable anytime anywhere, but especially so at this festival. Usually you see kids in the back rows of a dance team, and some of them are given award medals just walking with the team, not dancing at all, only because they are so cute in the costume.

On the other hand, sometimes you see talented kids who are amazingly good at dancing. This girl in red costume was obviously one of those who were kissed by the Muses. Every move she made was not just cute – it was even elegant and more feminine than any other adult female dancers, which almost made me fall in love with her. I’m really happy that I managed to take this shot of her, though its quality is not very good.

============ OTESUJI STREET ===========

Otesuji is a street with zelkova trees in the safety zone in the middle, located near the castle. This is the main dance venue where all the dancers try to show their best performances, because they get to be on TV and the flower medals given there are the most prestigious award.

I always enjoy the colorful scenes with the dancers in bright costumes, gorgeously decorated leading trucks and again, the huge flags waving under the green leaves.

Of course many people do not understand what is so great about dancing in the street in the summer heat, sweating like hell. And often my words are not effective in communicating how beautiful the sweat is on dancers’ faces. So I’ve always wanted to be able to shoot photos that explain what I cannot express well with words.

I hope you get the feel of what I want to communicate through these close-ups of the female dancers posted here.

By the way, rain – actually more like squall – is something you always have to be ready for at Yosakoi festival. I brought a thin rain coat for myself, which I didn't use at all, and a couple of plastic bags for the camera. And as expected, it poured, though not too long. I covered my camera with a plastic bag like some other photographers were doing, but it was soooo uncomfortable, to tell the truth. Out of the several photos I took this way, only one turned out good and it is included in the slideshow (the one with wet street).

========== OTESUJI STREET (NIGHT) ==============

Now, I wasn’t expecting much from this camera when taking night shots. As you see, some of the photos posted here are blurred, but I thought they were kind of interesting in a way.

I’m especially happy with the photos below, because those are the most touching scenes at this dance festival. They show how a team is like at the end of their very last dance of the festival.

The dancers who already finished dancing shout “Come on!” “Come on!” to the rest of the dancers still dancing. Can you imagine what it’s like to see the silhouette of such team mates in the bright lights of the leading truck after you have been dancing, dancing and dancing for a couple of days under the August sun with loud music vibrating through your body? Here I wrote how I felt being in that scene as a dancer last year, and these photos will always remind me of “that moment.”

So this was my experience of Yosakoi 2006. Now I’m feeling so relieved to have shared the images expressing what I couldn't express in words.

And you know what? I’m definitely dancing next year. ;)

* Photos in this post by obachan. All rights reserved.
posted by obachan, 8/14/2006 06:08:00 PM | link | 11 comments |

Tuesday, August 08, 2006


The internet is great. Blogging is wonderful. They bring people together and broaden your horizons. These are the things I have learned in the last couple of years sitting in front of my laptop every day. But when I actually meet people I got acquainted through blogging, those findings seem even more convincing to me.

Yesterday at Hirome in Kochi city, I met Ian, a nice English guy who occasionally visits my blog(s), and his lovely wife, Misa-san. I have been enjoying their blogs, but chatting with them was much more fun! Especially when we chatted sitting on a funny sofa at a café. (Sorry, inside joke.) ;)

They brought me huge boxes of English tea and four jars of marmalade, all of which were the brands we can hardly find in Japan, I suppose. What a privilege! I’m definitely going to make myself a special breakfast pretty soon.
Oh, I love blogging!
posted by obachan, 8/08/2006 11:52:00 PM | link | 5 comments |

Saturday, August 05, 2006


Now, it’s this time of the year again. The whole town is getting ready for the big dance festival and so am I. I bought a used camera about a week ago, and since then I have been playing with it to get used to. What I want to do least is carrying around the instruction manual with me during the dance festival and furiously going through the pages while the dance teams are passing by in front of me. You know what I mean.

The other day I went to Josei Koen (park) to test continuous shooting function with different shutter speeds. The people in the park must have thought I was crazy, shooting the photos of a water fountain forever in the crazy heat. ;P




I even tried to shoot the pigeons flapping, but they didn’t flap when I had the camera ready, and when they did, the camera was not on the continuous shooting mode. Well, that’s life. ;P

These are my photographer’s tools this year. My camera: Fuji Finepix S7000 (used), the model that they don’t make any more. A two-way waist bag to store my purse, keys, camera case, batteries, chapstick, sunscreen and plastic bags. The nice outside-pockets will be good for storing my cell phone and compact digital camera (in case the other camera breaks). A PET bottle holder from 100-yen shop to be attached to the waist bag to protect myself from dehydration. And a hat and a towel to protect myself from heat exhaustion.

See how much I am looking forward to this festival?
posted by obachan, 8/05/2006 02:20:00 PM | link | 2 comments |