Need Time to Breath

I am afraid that part 2 of  Oniyo Fire Festival can`t be posted in the near time. I am now VERY BUSY finishing my thesis with still lots of things to do despite the presentation is on this Friday. Just finished writing the thesis at around 400am in the lab and submitted it to the lecturer’s room at around 430am after some final checking. But still, it`s not the time to be relieved as it will be returned later today after being checked by him. And I expect there will be lots of rewriting to be done(though I really hope not) considering our strict lecturer. Need to have some good food to gain energy for another 4days of sleepless night. Furthermore, I got to have my things ready packed today since that tomorrow we have to move to other rooms to give way for some renovation at the current ones. Gosh…hopefully I don`t get sick during this important period of time. Please, help me God.

Well, for the part 2`s post, though it is not yet finished, I`d like to share just some previews of it.

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Oniyo Fire Festival Part1 – Burning the Decorations

*Some photos in the post are not suitable for 17years and below`s viewing…

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Oniyo Fire Festival, which is held in Daizenji Tamatare-gu Shrine in Kurume-city, is one of the three largest fire festivals in Japan. This event takes place on the last day of the Shinto ritual, ONI-E , on the 7th of January every year.

According to the diary of  Yakushiji Temple, the festival originated from a happening  in the year 368, when Fujidaijin(a minister at that time) cut off the head of Yusurachin, who was torturing local people, and burnt it.

On this 7th day after New Year,  they will have a Shinto ritual during the festival in where people pray for peace and safety , good harvest and the prevention of disasters as well as to ward off evil spirits.

This year we got an invitation from the event`s committee to take part in the event. We were excited to join but when told that we would have to wear cawat during the festival, we declined the invitation. Kami tak sanggup nak pakai cawat tu. Sebab bukak aurat satu, pastu nak pakai tengah winter yang sejuk beku ni? Event tu malam pulak tu. Tak sanggup!

However, a few days after that, we were told that we can join the event as a 見学者(observer) and we agreed. However, as our substitutes, four Japanese junior students came forward to join the cawat group. And on evening January the 7th, off we go riding on Pakcik Kida`s car.(Pakcik Kida is from our hostel`s office)

We get off at Yamanomachi Civic Hall, where we would join the Yamanomachi`s locals who would participate in the event. During the festival, they will be 5 more groups from the other areas and they will gather at some place near the shrine later. We arrived quite early, so while waiting for the others to come we were served with some food. Then, more and people came and joined us at the table. Some of them looked scary, some looked like yakuzas, but when we try and have some chat with them, we found out that all of them were very friendly. They were all excited because they don`t have  that much chance socializing with foreigners like this. We got ourselves busy entertaining  their questions about our countries, cultures etc. Oh ya, at the same time, maybe encouraged by excitement on those people`s faces, our Laos friend, Danang suddenly told his desire to join them. Without much hesitation they welcomed him and upstairs Danang went to change into the cawat. After that he was told to take some sake(liquor) to heat his body as it will be ice-freezing outside.

At about 700pm, when everyone was finally present, they had some briefing and then off we went heading to the shrine.

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At a field near the shrine, they started burning the New Year`s house decorations made from dry wheat branches. They burnt them in groups divided according to their origin areas while chanting their praying words.

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These guys below are my juniors, and at the most right is Danang. Tengok macam sejuk giler. Tapi, since most of the time they were near the fire, they were actually very hot. I tried going close to the fire and it was sangat panas ok. But when you distanced yourself from it, it`ll be freezing-cold. So, you must have the skills to determine the appropriate distance from the fire so that you won`t be to hot, or too cold. Suam-suam kuku kata orang.. =P

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At about 830pm, it was almost time for the main event.The group paraded to the shrine and circle the shrine area 3 times carrying their small torches before gathering  at the places where the big torches are.

These big torches which are made from MOSO-DAKE(the biggest kind of bamboo in Japan), are called OH-TAIMATSU. They are 6 of them and they are 1meter in diameter, 15 meters long and weigh 1.2 tons each. These  OH-TAIMATSU are placed in front of the belfry in the shrine yard.

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To be continued in Part 2…

Jalan-jalan on a cold day

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On that snow day, I had some time before class starts, so I went for some photo hunt around the college.

Saw the other students who came early to school playing with the snow.

Didn`t get to take any of their pics though, because the Japanese are quite reluctant to let other people, especially unknown people to photo them.

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There were snowmen almost every single corner I passed through.

And snowball fights too.

Among the snowmen,you would usually expect to find something like this.

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But who would expect this?!Japanese do thing out of the box, huh?

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I then walk out from the school compound to enjoy the views outside.

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Five minutes before 9.30am, I head back to attend my only class for that morning.

At that time, it was cloudy and dark, and the snow started to fall again.

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At about noon, I finished my class and I went for another photo hunt.

This time, I went to the neighborhood nearby.

And this time, it`s a clear-blue sky and the sun was shining brightly.

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After about 20 minutes outside, I ended my jalan-jalan that day

and went back to hostel to fill my empty stomach.

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Its snowing again..

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Hostel-front

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Today`s snow is so heavy.

Much heavier than the one before. refer->

The college had to rearrange the class schedules.

We will be starting class at 10am, rather than 840am like usual.

The 4th period class is cancelled.

Before the class starts, some students went snow playing in front of the hostel.

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Baseball field

Try guessing what`s that guy on the left doing?

Hamik ko!!!

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Snow is fun, but in some way makes our life harder..

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A makcik clearing snow on her car.

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And the roads are slippery.You have to be very careful not to slip down.

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Especially on the pedestrians side..

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Last Winter in Kyushu

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This year`s snow was the heaviest since I came here about 3 years ago.

And also the coldest winter I’ve had in this southern part of Japan.

The snow on the 31st December was so heavy that we did made our first snowman in Kyushu.

And we had a white New Year’s eve.

Got up early that morning because it was too cold, shivering in the blanket.Looked outside, and saw nothing but all-white scenery everywhere.Without even washing my face, put on the jacket, woke up the juniors and threw ourselves on the snow-covered baseball field.

From room verandah

View from laundry room

College compound

Bucket under a tree

Hostel this way..

That guy

And his friends

Couldn`t bear not to have this..

Buat 'orang salji'

Some Japanese at the other end of the field

出来た!

Got to feel how the 'org putih' play football in snow

New year kali ni tak rasa apa pun. Sedar-sedar dah 4 Januari.Kelas pun dah nak start.Report tak buat lagi.Bilik bersepah.Baju tak basuh.Haishh..Esok kena start buat sikit2.Anyway, have a good year everyone!

Fukuoka Motor Show 2009

Last week, we took the opportunity of the school holiday to go to the 2nd Fukuoka Motor Show in Fukuoka-city. The event held for four straight days, with different exhibitions on each day. We choose to go on the first day, as the foreign car-makers would appear on that day. After the Friday prayer at Fukuoka Masjid, we then went to Marine Messe, the venue for this year`s motor show.

We have been waiting eagerly for this event since that we missed the 1st Fukuoka Motor Show in 2007, which got very good reviews from our friends and lecturers. Unfortunately, for this year`s motor show, there were less exhibits, in term of manufacturers and the models themselves. Plus, there were very few exhibits of what can be say as the main attraction for most motor shows, the concept cars. Maybe the companies were trying to minimize their expenses due to the recent economic downturn, which resulted them to limit their entries and exhibits. But since that we have paid the 800yen(which I think was not really worth spent, but still more worthy compared to other people who paid the normal price-1300yen(for 1 dayonly)), we made sure that we`d at least took a short look at all the models exhibited.

Some of the models displayed:

And kami pun nak berangan kejap..

Din!Helmet mana??!!

Halo, mak?Jap eh, kawe tgh bwk moto nih..

ececeh kemal...

: x

Kaki Gari

Three weeks ago, we were brought by a pakcik from our hostel`s office to experience 「かき狩り」(kakigari), which means “persimmon picking”. We went to a farm owned by another pakcik who takes care of our college`s gymnasium hall. That two pakciks know each other, so it was not that hard to ask for permission to go to his farm. So, that Saturday morning, we hop into the pakcik hostel`s car, and went to pakcik gym`s farm which was about 45 minutes ride from our college.

We didn`t went straight there, but we waited him at some place near his farm.Then, he came and he led the way to his farm through a narrow road going up the hill.Arrived there, we were immediately passed with gloves and some kind of scissors which would be use to cut the persimmon`s stems.Then, after some introduction of ourselves and some explanation  about the fruit, we started going to the persimmon trees to do our jobs.

Here we go..

We had to be very careful when picking the fruits so that they wont be damaged. If the fruits got even a very small scratch on it, they are no longer eligible to be sold. So bearing that in our minds, we did our job carefully.

Kaki(persimmon) fruit

Persimmon trees

The persimmon trees are not that tall. So it was not very hard picking them up. The only problem that inexperienced people like us had was picking the right fruits, not the still young ones and not too old ones. So it took us quite a long time choosing the fruits to be picked up.

What happens when left too long on the trees - they rot

Petik buah bang?

"Lapar nih..aci tak makan cani jer?"

After about an hour of picking session, we managed to collect about three crates of persimmons. Then we had some free time talking with him and at the same time having an “all you can eat” persimmon session too. The pakcik gym`s wife was very kind enough to come with some hot coffee for us. During the conversation, we were told that the persimmons produced around that area are very good in terms of quality and taste. He also told that the area`s farms did won some national level awards for their fruits. No wonder I felt that the fruits that we ate tasted better than the one that I got from my friend a few days before.

Kena susun elok2, nanti rosak

Nak makan basuh dulu

Before we went back, we got ourselves a big plastic bag full with persimmons from that pakcik. That was very kind of him despite all those which we already ate before that. After thanking him and his wife, we then rode the pakcik hostel`s Pajero to go back to college.

Kiri sekali pakcik hostel, sebelah dia pakcik gym n yang bawah tu wife dia

On that way back, the pakcik stopped by at a wine factory to show the other overseas student the wine making process. We were not interested in wine, so we the Malaysians took the opportunity to perform our Asar prayer. While waiting for them, we just walked around the factory`s compound and did some camwhoring. After they finished their visit, we then head back to the Pajero and went back to our college…