Monday, October 17, 2011


From 12th to 16th August, hubby and I had been to his ancestral home in Ichinomiya city for Obon festival. Obon is an annual Buddhist event to commemorate our ancestors. It is believed that each year during Obon, the spirits of ancestors return to this world in order to visit their relatives. Traditionally, lanterns are hung in front of houses to welcome the spirits of ancestors, graves are visited, and food offerings are made at family altars. At the end of Obon, floating lanterns are put into rivers, lakes, and seas so that the spirits can return back into their world. The customs followed vary considerably from region to region. Obon is celebrated from 13th to 15th August every year.

On the afternoon of 12th August, we left Akita by flight and reached hubby’s ancestral home in Ichinomiya city at about 9 pm. We soon retired to bed as we were a bit tired due to the travel. The next morning my hubby, father-in-law, and his wife got up at about 4.45 am, got ready, and left home at 5.30 am to go for playing golf. I preferred to stay at home and relax as I am not much interested in golf. They went to play golf at Springfield Golf Club in Tajimi city of Gifu prefecture. Tajimi was the hottest city in Japan that day but my relatives enjoyed playing golf as they really love the game. Hubby took a few photos and videos of his relatives hitting tee shots. So hubby is not seen in the photos and the compiled video of the game that are uploaded here.
Father-in-law hitting tee shots

Father-in-law’s wife hitting tee shots

Hubby’s uncle hitting tee shots

A compiled video of my relatives playing golf at Springfield Golf Club in Tajimi city

As I wrote in an earlier post, on the morning of 14th August hubby and I visited Kiyosu Castle. The same day in the afternoon we visited my mother-in-law’s grave and offered our prayers. Hubby cleaned the gravestone with water, offered flowers, and lit some candles and incense sticks. We also visited the home of my father-in-law’s eldest brother who lives nearby hubby’s ancestral home. In fact, it is the main ancestral home of ‘Nagata family’. They have an amazingly exotic family altar. We offered some food items at the altar, lit incense sticks, read some sutras, and prayed to welcome the souls of our ancestors. In the evening we went to see Nobi Fireworks Festival about which I have written in the previous post. 14th August was a really busy day for us.
Hubby cleaning his mother’s grave with water

Hubby standing in front of his mother’s grave

Family altar at the home of the eldest uncle of hubby

Food offerings at the altar

On 15th August, hubby, father-in-law, and his wife again went to play golf at Springfield Golf Club in Tajimi city and returned back at about 2 pm. I spent the entire morning lazing around. I read a few pages of a novel and watched television. At about 3 pm hubby’s sister and her family, who live nearby, visited us. It was a very hot and humid day, and the daughters of my sister-in-law wished to play in a pool. So father-in-law and hubby set up an inflatable pool at the front yard of the house. It took about 15 minutes to inflate and almost an hour to fill with water. Father-in-law, hubby, and his nieces had lots of fun playing with water inside the pool.
Father-in-law and daughters of my sister-in-law having fun inside inflatable pool

Hubby holding a parasol sunshade

Hubby too joined the fun

Nieces playing with their uncle

My beautiful sister-in-law

At about 6 pm, we along with my sister-in-law’s family went for dinner at a local Chinese restaurant named Koufukuen. We ordered various kinds of Chinese dishes. The food was really delicious. It was nice to chat with relatives and play with the daughters of my sister-in-law. We had a nice evening and enjoyed having a tasty dinner.
Chinese restaurant Koufukuen

Kids enjoying dinner with grandparents

We all having dinner

Dinner and chatting

Hubby having dinner

We returned back to Akita on 16th August. Every year hubby and I visit his ancestral home during Obon festival. It gives us a sense of fulfillment in carrying out our traditional family duties.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Rotary Club Dinner and Nobi Fireworks Festival

On the evening of 14th August, hubby and I went for dinner with my father-in-law and his wife at a restaurant named Kinpokan located in Ichinomiya city. Later in the evening, we enjoyed watching Nobi Fireworks Festival from the rooftop of the restaurant. The dinner and the fireworks viewing were arranged by Ichinomiya Chuo Rotary Club. My father-in-law is a member of the club and so we as the family members were also invited.

Kinpokan Restaurant is located about four kilometers west of hubby’s ancestral home and it took us fifteen minutes to reach the restaurant by car. We reached the restaurant at about 5.15 pm. Most of the dinner guests wore semi-formal western style dress. But there were quite a few women as well as men in traditional summer kimono named yukata. I wore a traditional Indian dress named salwar kameez. Nowadays I hardly get any opportunity to wear Indian clothes, and so I felt really good to wear salwar kameez that day.
Our table with father-in-law and his wife (in green top) seated

Waiting for the dinner to start

Father-in-law and his wife

Hubby feeling cold as the air-conditioner was right behind him

I am wearing salwar kameez

The dinner started at 5.30 pm. There were 40 guests and when all were seated, a member of the Rotary Club gave a small speech and proposed a toast, and we all raised our glasses and toasted by saying ‘kanpai’ (cheers). There were many brands of beer, sake, and non-alcoholic beverages to choose from. After some time, traditional multicourse Japanese dinner called kaiseki was served by women staff wearing elegant yukata. A predetermined sequence of dishes was served. Each dish was small and had a perfect balance of texture, appearance, and colors of food. Only fresh ingredients were used and the dishes were carefully and artistically arranged on plates that enhanced the appearance and flavor. The dinner included an appetizer, sashimi, a simmered dish, a grilled fish, a steamed fish, sushi, a rice dish made with seasonal ingredients, dessert, and many more items. The food was absolutely wonderful and delicious. In fact I was so busy eating that I took photos of only a few dishes that were served initially and completely forgot to click photos of most of the dishes that were served later. During dinner many guests sang karaoke songs and it was nice to listen to a few popular Japanese songs of yesteryears that the elderly guests sang so beautifully. Several of my father-in-law’s friends came to our table with a bottle of beer, poured for each person, and chatted with everyone around. I especially enjoyed chatting with one of them who told about his experiences of travel to India. The dinner was really nice and enjoyable, and ended at about 7.20 pm.

Dinner served by a woman staff wearing yukata




Grilled fish and a soup having vegetables, fish, and tofu

Another soup with vegetables

Father-in-law and his wife having dinner

Hubby having sushi

Hubby having dessert

A friend of father-in-law pouring beer for him and his wife

Another friend pouring beer for them

Karaoke singing

More karaoke singing

At about 7.25 pm, all the guests went to the rooftop of the restaurant to enjoy Nobi Fireworks Festival (Nobi Daihanabi). Fireworks displays are an important summer event in Japan. Nobi Fireworks Festival is held in Ichinomiya city on the banks of Kiso River, north of Nobi-Ohashi Bridge. This fireworks festival was started by Bisai city in 1892 and was known as Bisai Hanabi Taikai. In 1993 Hashima city of Gifu prefecture, located on the opposite bank of Kiso River, started collaborating in the festival, and the name of the festival was changed to Bisai-shi Hashima-shi Shimin Hanabi Taikai. In 2005, Bisai city merged with Ichinomiya city, and the name of the fireworks festival was changed to Nobi Daihanabi. This year the fireworks festival was held on 14th August from 7.30 pm to 8.45 pm.

Kinpokan Restaurant is located adjacent to Kiso River and the rooftop of the restaurant is a prime spot for a clear view of the display of fireworks. We saw many boats illuminated with lanterns floating down Kiso River. About 5000 fireworks were released on the banks of the river. In addition, six 20-gou warimono (60 centimeters round shell fireworks) were released which blooms up to 500 meters. Details about Japanese fireworks, shapes, and sizes can be found at this homepage (please click here). There was a continuous display of fireworks that lasted for 75 minutes. There were tables arranged on the rooftop and the guests enjoyed having beer or sake while enjoying the fireworks display. It was a wonderful experience. Hubby took a few photos of the various fireworks patterns and I compiled five videos of the fireworks display.
View from the rooftop of the restaurant. Many people are sitting along the bank of Kiso River and two illuminated boats are seen floating on the river.

Fireworks display as viewed from the rooftop

Another display

Fireworks patterns

Fireworks patterns

Fireworks patterns

Fireworks patterns

Fireworks patterns

Compiled video of the fireworks festival - part 1

Compiled video of the fireworks festival - part 2

Compiled video of the fireworks festival - part 3

Compiled video of the fireworks festival - part 4

Compiled video of the fireworks festival - part 5

Hubby and I thoroughly enjoyed the dinner at Kinpokan Restaurant as well as viewing the fireworks display of Nobi Fireworks Festival from the rooftop of the restaurant.