Horseback Archery


This horseback archery event took place in Takadanobaba on Sports Day, October 9. In yabusame demonstrations, the participants gallop a horse at full speed down a track, and try to hit three small targets that are only a hundred meters or so apart.
Here’s a video:

Another good yabusame demonstration is held at the Meiji Shrine in Tokyo on Culture Day, November 3. It’s put on by the Takeda-ryu. According to their homepage, it’s possible to watch one of their practices on Sunday mornings, and they’re also recruiting new members: (Japanese only). Address: Kanagawa-ken, Miuri-shi, Hatsusemachi-koen 1140, Miura Kokusai Joba Kurabu, TEL 0467-22-1929

They have an English page at:


By the way, if you’d like to subscribe to this blog, you can now add it to your RSS feed by clicking on the orange “Subscribe through a reader” button in the top right section of this page. It will update you whenever there’s a new post.

Kingyo Sukui Goldfish Scooping Game

It’s festival season here in Japan, and every matsuri is sure to have at least one kingyo sukui booth. Kids get plastic scoops with paper centers called a “poi” (the yellow circular things in their hands, not the bowls) and they have to use them to scoop up the goldfish. It usually costs around 300 yen a try.

There is even a National Goldfish Scooping Championship held in Yamatokoriyama City in Nara Prefecture. It was held on the 24th of August this year, and was won by Shigetaka Ishizawa in the adult’s division, who managed to scoop up an incredible 46 goldfish (most people are doing well to get just two or three). The contest’s homepage is here, but it’s in Japanese only.

If you think you might like to enter next year’s contest, Wikipedia’s article on “goldfish scooping” has this advice on technique:

-Do not chase a goldfish with the poi.It may be obvious that the paper will easily break if the player moves the poi violently in the water.Put the whole poi into the water softly and slantingly.
-Some people put only a part of it into the water, but it is not right to do. If a player does it, there will be a wet part and the other part on the paper. The boundary of them makes the paper easy to break. Also, water pressure will be greater if the player puts the poi into the water with it parallel with the water. Considering these technique, players should aim at a goldfish which is near the wall and near the surface.
-It is easier to predict the movements of a goldfish near the wall. Moreover, a goldfish has less way to escape from the poi. After a player see these technique, what the player has to do is practice. However, there is advanced technique for people who are familiar with goldfish scooping.
-Make a fixed shadow of yourself in the water.
-In general, goldfish have tendency to escape from a temporary shadow. On the other hand, they flock around a steady shadow. To take advantage of this habit of goldfish, players should be still when scooping them.web analytics

Ueno Snake Shop

I remember hearing about a snake shop in Ueno when I first came to Japan. I went and searched for it, but was never able to find it. Imagine my surprise when I stumbled across it yesterday, almost right beside Matsuzakaya Department Store. My snake phobia prevented me from going in, but it seems to be both a restaurant serving snake dishes, and a pharmacy selling Chinese medicine made from snake products. If you’re curious to see it, the shop’s name is Bunkyuudou, and the address is 4-4-1 Ueno, Taito-ku, Tel. 3831-2770. It’s near Okachimachi Station on the Yamanote Line, but the easiest way to get there is from Ueno Station. Go out the Central Exit and turn right, going past Marui Department Store and Yodobashi Camera on the left and the entrance to Ueno Park on the right. Keep going until you see Matsuzakaya Deprartment Store on the left. The snake shop is about half a block before it on the same side.

By the way, while I was looking for information about this shop, I found out that there are shops selling snake dishes and snake-derived medicine all over Japan. Here’s a Wikipedia page with a list: analytics

Cat Lover

Anti-cat devices based on the urban myth that cats will be scared away by seeing their reflection in water bottles.web analytics

Dead Goldfish

If you ever have a desire to see a bunch of dead and dying goldfish floating in rusty tanks filled with brackish water, look no farther than the Katsushika-ku Kingyo Tenjijo (Katsushika Ward Goldfish Exhibition Area) in Mizumoto Koen. I thought a goldfish exhibition center might be photogenic, and I guess it was, but not quite in the way I expected. This is quite possibly the most depressing tourist attraction I’ve seen in nearly 15 years in Japan, and I write about it here only as a warning not to go. Despite the rather unpleasant smell and the dead fish, it seems quite popular with kids, though.web analytics

Man and Dog

Man and dog by the seawall at Kadena in Okinawa.web analytics

Eating Takako

(Click on the photo to see a larger version)

A month or so ago, I received some Matsuzaka beef as a present, and was surprised to get this certificate of authenticity with our meat. Not only did the certificate have information about the cow (whose name was Takako, by the way), but it also had information on her ancestors, going back to her great-grandfather.

1. Cow registration
2. Inspector’s name: Fukumi Okano
3. Takako’s nose print
4. Takako; birthday: Aug. 2, 2005
5. Father: Shigefuku
6. Mother: Takateru: 79.5 kg
7. Grandfather: Anpei
Grandmother: Fukumi;
8. Grandfather: Takazakura
Grandmother: Teruko
9. Great-grandfather: Yasujuku
Great-grandmother: Fukushige
Great-grandfather: Takami
Great-grandmother: Itohiro IIweb analytics

Gucci Dog

Gucci Dog

70,000 yen dog jacket by Gucchiweb analytics

Space Dolphins

Space Dolphins

Space dolphins! This is at once the best and worst painting I have ever seen in my life. Artistically bad, but great because no matter how many times I see it, it still makes me laugh out loud.web analytics