Monday, June 10, 2013

Iwakuni Iris Festival

In Iwakuni, the Kintai Bridge and Kikko Park area is full of traditional Japanese culture. This weekend was the Iris Festival, and the Kikko Park area had them by the hundreds. I actually went down to see the flowers on Friday, a day before the actual festival, so I could take some time in the morning to shoot photographs of some of my favorite flowers. It was just me and a couple dozen Japanese senior citizens with umbrellas and big hat. I had neither an umbrella or a big hat, but I did have sunglasses and sunscreen. Unlike most Japanese, I like a bit of a tan.

I also took my camera with me. There were a number of hobbyists with DSLRs slung around their necks, and all but one of them were men. I noted how many of them "subtly" checked out my neck strap to see what camera I was carrying. Maybe that is a version of a pissing contest I was not aware of, or perhaps simple curiosity. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to ask. The few Japanese who spoke to me in English were not carrying cameras. But that's OK, I got some photos I think turned out well. A few of them are below. I have even more on my photography website.

The flux capacitor. It's what makes time travel possible.
(Excuse the nerdy reference to Back to the Future. I couldn't resist.)
Then on Saturday, the whole family, plus Jamall, our neighbor we're watching while his mom is in the States for work, headed to Kikko park to enjoy the festival itself.

Most of the activities associated with the festival were in Japanese, so, with three kids in tow I decided not to try and figure that out when all the kids wanted to do was get wet and splash around in the park water fountains. We had another activity planned for the afternoon, so wading - and the resulting clean up of small children - was not on the agenda for the day. So, instead, we checked out the handful of local vendors, buying some tasty honey, rice cakes and cookies.

We watched kids and young women race around the park in what appeared to be some kind of scavenger hunt.

There were also people dotted all over the park, sketching and painting the irises for an art contest.

Although it was the Iris Festival, the rose garden in the park was beautiful - and very fragrant. I made the four males I was with stop and, ahem, smell the roses, which lasted without complaint for about 12 minutes. I'm hoping to shoot some more roses later in the week if everything pans out.


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