Firsts and Lasts

It’s pretty amazing how much there is going on around you that you never see or experience, no matter how hard you try to “get it all in”. Case in point, a few weeks ago, I held an international concert at the library for the people of Taki to see some JETs  (and Jake’s Wife Ai) jam out to some goodies and oldies.  -you can see the pics here courtesy of Jake- It was a great success! Though the rain was POURING down outside, about 20 people still came out and we all spent an hour and a half enjoying good music and good company. There were a few local papers there shooting for their articles and apparently the leader of a very active folk group in town read about it because before you know it he’s asked me to sing a few songs with his folk group at the Ajisai (Hydrangea) Festival in mid June.

Now this festival is one of my favorites, mainly because of the mud-wrestling-like tug of war that goes on every year (Check here if you want to see it!). There are food stalls, dance performances, the works (even an earthquake simulator!) What I didn’t realize was that every year they’d also been doing folk concerts on a stage in the middle of these small ponds. So Okuyama-san (the aforementioned folk singer/guitar-player/photographer/website master/do everything guy!) says to me, sing some songs with us. And there I am, on stage for three songs in the rain (we were under a tent 🙂 ), and both of us are just loving it.

It was the first – and the last  – time that I’ll be able to do that. Knowing that I’d been to the festival in years past kind of stung for both of us – the “why didn’t we think of this earlier?” moment everyone goes through.  But it also left me feeling great that I was able to have one of those special, if ridiculously fleeting, moments that will stay with me forever. I think there are very few of us who would pass up such a chance; I know I’m thankful for each and every “one-time” experience in my life.

I took a bunch of pictures throughout the day – this is a sampling of 10. You can see the rest of them here or just click on any of the pictures to go directly to my flickr page. Enjoy!

Ajisai Matsuri 2010

I saw this little boy with his umbrella in front of the ajisai and just snapped. I like the way he’s kicking his shoes a bit 🙂 Added the focal B&W in post.IMG_7359

This boy’s name is Kazu; he’s one of my favorites to teach at preschool. Nice expression and some great out of focus highlights.

Just as I was about to start shooting the preschoolers doing their song some parents came and plopped themselves right in my way. So I shot them instead 🙂 I love the “two umbrella” look and the fact that they’re both squatting!IMG_7369

Okuyama-san singing with the kids. He wrote a song “Midori” just for the festival to sing with the kids. Pretty outstanding. Wish you all could have heard what great voices they have 😀

5. The folk group (there were a couple) I performed with was actually a duo, Okuyama-san and this fellow Aoki-san. Here he is singing something, going up high by the looks of it! Love the expression, when I saw him do it once I took aim and waited for my chance!

A Left-handed Fender Japan Strat in Sunburst, my favorite color! I used to own this guitar 🙂 I added a touch of ajisai to the picture hehe. Taken from down low with live view.Fender Sunburst

These girls from Seiwa JHS were running the local “trout fishing” booth. They had a bunch of small trout they would release into the irrigation ditches and then people could fish them from the sides.IMG_7477

They haggled me into fishing out not one but FOUR of them! Of course they let the boys do all the dirty work!


They say that ajisai are the “flowers of the rain”, and I think this picture really brings that out. The warm green colors and the brilliant blue, coupled with the small drops of water on each petal are really a sight to behold.Hydrangea In Bloom

Every year there are about five or six young women chosen to be the “ajisai hime” (princess). They range from elementary to college students. This girl was probably in middle/high school. I caught her from farther out giving a great smile and snapped away. The 70-200 on the 7D did its job flawlessly!
Ajisai Princess

The six princesses. Their beautiful, bright and brilliant kimonos made for some amazing pictures.

So my last ajisai festival came to an end, and I didn’t even get to see the mud-wrestling tug of war, I was so busy with the singing! Every year is different, which is one of the best things about being out here. Hope you enjoyed the post, come back soon for more antics! 🙂 – Brian


One thought on “Firsts and Lasts

  1. Great post!

    It’s cool that you can do a b/w conversion on everything but the focal plane – is that a DPP thing?

    Sounds like you’re truly making the most of the time you have left here! The pictures are great as usual, seeing your stuff always makes me feel like I gotta get out and shoot more!!

    And as always, I like the velvety “film-like” feel of your shots. Vibrant colors, precious moments, attractive subjects – all good things =D

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