Many people don’t realize that there are geisha alive and working in Japan. Other people assume that the only place to spot a geisha is in the Gion district of Kyoto. However, although the number of practicing geisha have dwindled, there continue to be a number of women studying the geisha arts and going on to work as professional geisha. There is even gaijin geisha (foreign geisha) working in Asakusa, Tokyo. You can read more about Australian geisha, Sayuki, on her website here.
In an effort to preserve Shimoda’s cultural heritage and stimulate tourism by enlivening the city, the Shimoda government has flipped the bill for 3 women to be trained as geisha. At the moment these women are very busy preparing for their grand debut on March 27 when Shimoda will be celebrating the Okichi Festival. Iroha (her new Geisha name) is a good friend of mine and I can’t wait to see how her hard work is paying off!
Come and stay at Guesthouse tabi-tabi on the 26th or 27th of this month and join me for the Okichi Festival.
Yesterday, Matsuzaki held its 12th annual Taiko Festival. It was awesome! (or “saiko” pronounced psycho in Japanese) 4 taiko groups, 2 dancing dragons, a bamboos flute, smashing symbols and gongs were accompanied by torches of fire, candles in bamboo holders, and the sound of waves lapping on the beach. When the sun disappeared under the sea in front of us, the nearly full harvest moon came up behind us. Nothing short of spectacular! Please join us next year for the 13th annual Taiko Festival in beautiful Matsuzaki!
Last night we filled the van with guests and drove to the west coast to see the sunset. It was kinda cloudy so besides some stunning views of Izu’s rocky west coast, there wasn’t much to see. After that we headed to the southern most tip of the peninsula for fireworks in Yumi-ga-hama. Fireworks exploded above and were shot from the ocean, explosions and flashes of color reverberating through the starless sky. Looking forward to the next fire and light spectacle celebrating the Bon Festival on August 13th. Check out our calendar here for a listing of upcoming events in southern Izu.
On August 6th, 7th, and 8th, Shimoda held its second annual Candle Cafe. Which is not actually a cafe but a small festival with 1000s of candles lighting up the already beautiful Perry Road. Draft beer, cocktails and snack food was sold on the street. A good sound system oozed out smooth Jazz like Sade’s “Your Love is King”. There were plenty of places to sit and enjoy the ambience with a drink in hand. If you have yet to enjoy this classy festival of lights, don’t miss it next year!
Every year in Matsuzaki (west coast of Izu) wild flowers are grown in rice paddies before the rice seedlings are planted. Once the May flowers bloom everyone is invited to pick as many flowers as they can. I cut and collected as many flowers as I could carry. Next year though, I will be more prepared and bring a bucket, some large scissors or a sharp knife, and wear a T-shirt and shorts. It got pretty hot frolicking around in the flowers for hours.
Thanks Maia for the beautiful bouquet and for telling us about this endless field of floral fun!
You can find Matsuzaki on our tabi-tabi recommendations map here
It’s Golden Week here in Japan which means a lot of people are enjoying a whole bunch of holidays. Children’s Day is on May 5th and the Koi (carp) streamers are here to help us celebrate. Families throughout town have strung their own families of fish but the town also raises a long set of streamers over the river across the street from tabi-tabi. I love their reflections!
We had a super shanti time at this free party just a little south of Shimoda. On the 19th DJs played for about 50 party people. While the bar sold strong drinks from eco-cups made out sawed off bamboo. Yasu had some yummy eggplant noodle soup and I enjoyed a veggie curry. The music stopped at midnight but the campers drank on. We drove home and returned the next day for an amazing breakfast with a few shots of Acai juice to get us going. The rest of the day was filled with workshops (miso making and Dutch oven baking), massage, reflexology, a flee market, petitions, and all the other requirements of a good party, plenty of music, dancing, drinks, friends, and more….
Thanks for all the great vibes! See you next year!