Shimada Obi Matsuri (Festival) 2010 - 島田帯祭

Every three years in Shimada city, Shizuoka prefecture, a three day festival is held. 2010 just happened to be one of those years, and I spent quite a bit of time racing around Shimada on my bike to catch various events and happenings.

The festival began in the year 1696, during the Genroku era. At the time, it was customary for newlywed women who had moved to Shimada to go to the Oi Temple (a main temple in Shimada) to officially report their new residence and offer prayers for a safe childbirth. The women wore formal clothes to the temple, and afterward they would walk through the streets dressed in their fancy attire. Eventually, it was decided that this was too embarrassing for the women, and so instead, the men who carried the temple's portable shrine hung the women's obi (a wide, decorative band wrapped the waist over a kimono) from wooden swords they carried on their backs in place of the women and offered the prayers for safe childbirth. The obi was considered a very important part of a bride's wedding outfit, so the most fashionable and unique obi were gathered from around Japan for this event. The custom became a festival, and has continued ever since, every three years.

Of course now, the festival consists of much more than some guys carrying around obi. (That may get kind of old after three full days anyway...) So now, a visual tour of various events from the Shimada Obi Matsuri (and details for where, when, how to go at the end of this post):

A large float (yatai - 屋台、やたい) by one of the many towns in the city.


Fukuroi Fireworks Festival

Every year in Japan, during the hot, humid summer months, people gather in various outdoor locations to enjoy 花火 (はなび, hanabi), or, fireworks. The shows are often impressive, with hundreds to thousands of fireworks of varying sizes, colors and designs. If visiting Japan during the summer, hanabi is one event you won't want to miss.

One larger and somewhat famous fireworks festival in Japan happens every year in Fukuroi city, Shizuoka prefecture. They put on quite the show, and is certainly worth viewing with the thousands of blasts they shoot off that night. Rather than tell you about it though, I've included pictures below. Scroll down for information about this festival and how to get there.


Horai Bashi - World's Longest Wooden Bridge

Horai Bashi, or 逋莱橋, currently holds the Guinness World Record for the longest wooden walking bridge in the world (about 897 meters). Located in Shimada, Shizuoka, this toll bridge was constructed in 1879 to connect Shimada and the Makinohara are over the Oigawa River (大井川, meaning "Big River").

My husband and I have visited many times, seeming as it is so close to our home and a good "tourist" place to show visitors. And it was particularly gorgeous on a warm September evening, as the sun sank down in reverence to the Autumnal moon.

Tribute to the bride's world record status.

Welcome to Shizuoka - 静岡県へようこそ

Writing a first post on a blog can be slightly daunting - what do you really say? Do you post a "normal" post, and simply announce, "this is the first post!" Or do you write a long, drawn-out history of the blog and idea behind it, even though you've just started and so much of it will develop over time?

In any case, I'd like to at least introduce this blog. Though there are hundreds and thousands of travel blogs and sites out there, I didn't create this to compete with others. I simply wanted to create a space to upload pictures, reviews and helpful tips for travelers and residents in Shizuoka prefecture, Japan. Of course, other folks also post blog entries about some of these things, but I wanted to specifically focus on the Shizuoka area, considering that I've lived here for over two years now. And, so that I can post other, different material than the norm over on "Surviving in Japan."