Sea Memorial Holiday
In Tsuyama, on the "Sea Memorial/Festival" the people of Tsuyama go to Yokono Falls to celebrate and pay homage to the sea. This holiday was on July 21. There are no special rituals to perform at Yokono Falls, so it's not a "celebration" like a party, it is simply customary to visit the falls and perhaps eat at the restaurant.
Great Memories from My First Stay in Tsuyama
This is the gateway to the Shinto shrine very close to my host families house.
This is the Shinto Shrine that the gateway above will take you to. On the steps leading up to this shrine, my host brothers and I played "Guriko", which is a game of rock, paper, scissors in which you move up 6 or 3 steps upward. (I am unsure as to how it is determined whether the winner moves up 3 or 6!) In any case, I lost every time! It was fun though!
"The First Emperor of Tsuyama"
The first emperor/ruler of Tsuyama is buried here. This grave site is behind one of Tsuyama's Buddhist Temples. It was quite amazing to see it! It is always humbling to see monuments and artifacts that were around before my country (the United States) ever existed! This can happen quite often in Japan, since it has such a greater span of fascinating history!
"A Fuzzy Image of an Altar"
This is the altar inside a Buddhist Temple (the same temple that the first emperor is buried behind). Here, I was able to do Buddhist meditation, and a tea ceremony. Before and after meditating, we sang Buddhist chants. The meditation lasting for about an hour, but it was split into 5 or 6 sets of ten minute meditation periods. The Buddhist priest told me that we were praying for Nirvana and "clean hearts". I think this is quite a nice thing to pray for.
"Inside the Yayoi no Sato Museum"
These tools are for making getta. They are significant to me because they belong to my host grandfather. His family made getta prior to WWII. They were forced to close their business when the war started, because people quit buying getta. He donated these tools to the museum and here they are!
This is a picture of a tokonoma (not in my host families house). Tokonoma are insets in the walls of a room where scrolls are hung, ikebana are placed, or other items important to the family are put on display. If you are invited into a Japanese home, see if they have a tokonoma. Not all homes have them, but if its possible, it is a good piece of culture to see!
I went to learn how to play the taiko drums. I never have been a good drummer, but I really enjoyed watching and listening to the professionals play! Don't let the age of these two children fool you! They are extremely good at playing taiko drums. There were also other people who did even more impressive feats! It's quite exciting!
"Year of the Monkey"
2003 was the year of the monkey, so we went to a craftman's shop and he taught us how to make these cute little monkey swings! It was a lot of fun to paint, glue, and assemble them! Mine is the one on the right. It's not as good as the one's you can buy in the store, but it has so much more sentimental value!