Okkawa Matsuri in Handa

2011/03/24

Okkawa matsuri was held on 19th and 20th of March in Handa city near Nagoya. This festival is the first of all matsuri in this area. Many people attend the festival each year to see the dashi parade (dashis are wooden floats) to the shrine followed by the mikoshi (portable shrine).
This event celebrates the beginning of spring.
This festival is known as fighting festival because many young men try to get into the place from where the dashi is controlled. Once at the shrine, each of the four floats perform mechanical dolls accompanied with music.
There are 4 floats in Okkawa district and 27 more floats in Handa. Each area has its own festival so the events continue till 4th of May.
Every five years the city organize a huge dashi festival where the 31 floats are presented together.

Okkawa Matsuri

Three of the dashi next to Yawatasha shrine. Many people were there.

Okkawa Matsuri

Front view of the four dashi.

Okkawa Matsuri

Some of the mechanical dolls called karakuri ningio.

Okkawa Matsuri

Oni the red devil.

Okkawa Matsuri

Ready to attack with an axe !

Okkawa Matsuri

These long flags are called nobori.

Okkawa Matsuri

The Mikoshi on its way to the shrine.

Five new tea sets on the shop!

2011/03/22

New tea setsFrom today we propose you five new tea sets which are all very different from each other.
Please have a look and feel free to leave your feedback!
The full list of tea sets is available here.

Today is Shunbun no Hi!

2011/03/21

Today is Spring Equinox in Japan which means that there is 12 hours of light and 12 hours of dark.
This national holiday which takes place around the 20th or 21st of each year was established during the Meiji Period. This day marks the end of the winter the return of the warm.
Some special ceremonies are organized in temples to celebrate the event.
Soon it’s gonna be Sakura blossom! For the moment people can still enjoy Ume Matsuri.

Focus on the current events in Japan

2011/03/20

As you know, northern Japan was the victim on March 11 of a very strong earthquake followed by a devastating tsunami. There are already several thousands of dead people and many more are missing. As the days go by the chances of finding more survivors are dwindling. Following the event several nuclear reactors and fuel storage pools started to have many problems. Being in Japan (in case ou don’t know near Nagoya) we try to keep us informed at best. By the way we would like to thank those who sent messages of sympathy. But after reading the fears on all these messages it seemed to us important to talk about the issue.

What really is the situation in Japan?
It is amazing to see the state of panic that seems to be outside of Japan but here life goes on as usual. Tokyo is certainly victim of disturbances but I’m telling you inhabitants of the city are not running out of food or water and people are still going to work. Whether in Nagoya, Kyoto and Osaka there are no disturbances and the life goes on.
In the region of Fukushima many people are still looking for members of their families in the rubble. Fortunately most of the people in the prefectures have survived and stay calm waiting for the situation to stabilize. We are not witnessing a mass exodus of people living in the region surrounding the nuclear site in question.
For your information my wife’s family is gathered in a house (17 people all together!) 70 kilometers from the nuclear plant and no one panic!
You should know that Japanese people are prepared for this kind of situation since they have the age of 4 years and they know that a disaster like this can happen at any time.
Lastly, the priority in Japan is to find people who are still alive. The priority for Japanese average Joe is to care about the real victims and not about a possible radioactive contamination.

But this is not what it says on TV!
That is where the problem comes from! Part of journalists seek for sensationalism and obviously what is more terrifying than an nuclear plant accident? I mean all the ingredients are here – fear, suspense, terrifying images – to make a great blockbuster.
People quickly talked about Chernobyl in making more or less intelligent comparisons.
So let’s be clear, no the situation is not identical to that of Chernobyl and in particular for the following reasons:
- Plants conceptions are very different (fortunately…)
- Power plants in Fukushima are still heating up but they are stopped
- There will be no massive explosion like Chernobyl where the radioactive particles were propelled at over 3000 meters above sea level!
Therefore in the worst case there would be a localized pollution on an area of about thirty kilometers. Note that Tokyo is located a little over 250 kilometers from the reactors so it would not be affected! Pollution would be much more concentrated than that of Chernobyl, however the affected area would be more polluted than the Ukrainian city and would become uninhabitable.

I was told that the Japanese TV does not inform the locals I have even seen a video of a French talk about it!
Not true, all Japanese TV channels talk non-stop about the situation and even advertising has almost totally disappeared! To convince you can simply take a look at the NHK World channel: http://www.ustream.tv/channel/nhk-world-tv.

What can I do to help?
The best thing you can do is send a donation to the Red Cross who is on site since the early events. Come to Japan to play the hero will bring more problems than anything else.

What about Tokyo Smart?
The shop is operating normally there is no disruption for sending commands. No, our packages are not radioactive ;)
The Japanese mentality is to continue working instead of complaining to support the country’s economy. It will be much needed for the next few years. Do not forget that Japan has become the second largest economy (the third today) while the country was totally destroyed after the Second World War. Something tells me that this disaster may act as a trigger and that the country will become even stronger than before. At least I hope it will happen with all my heart.
That said, have a good night!

Loic

The new teacups are online!

2011/03/18

New teacups
These eight new cups are all made in Mino or Seto.
Again we tried to find models with an original design and different from each other.
You can see the complete list here.
We hope you will like them and we look forward to hear your first comments either on the blog, Facebook or Twitter!

Now it’s the turn for the new plates!

2011/03/17

New Ceramic Plates
We could not stop us from also put the new ceramic plates online!
These rectangular elongated plates are widely used in Japan in particular for the famous sushi or sashimi.
Obviously these plates are manufactured in Japan as for all our products.
Again we tried to select very different models to please everyone.
The list of plates is here.
Feel free to leave us comments!

New ceramic bowls are online!

2011/03/16

New ceramic bowls, Tokyo Smart

The new ceramic bowls are now online on the store.
These 6 bowls are all made in Mino, Japan.
They are large bowls mainly dedicated to Japanese noodles (soba, ramen, udon …) but they may have many other uses.
These bowls are handy as they are machine washable!
We tried to choose models with different designs in order to please the greatest number of people.
The list of all the ceramic bowl is here.
And you what do you think about?

Shipping costs are reduced again on Tokyo Smart!

2011/03/15

Since a few hours the shipping costs have dropped down on our store!
The cuts affect all products and are as follows:
-30% on shipping by S.A.L
-20% on shipping by Airmail
-10% on shipping by EMS

There is no counterpart to these lower prices and all products are therefore the same price!

As we regularly announce we do our best to continually improve our offer and services.
In this connection new ceramic products will be launched soon! And it’s just the beginning…

March 11th earthquake

2011/03/12

In case you’re wondering we are OK. We are located far from the epicenter of the earthquake so the shaking was modest. We are trying to contact some family members who live in Fukushima, but as the lines are either busy or cutted that is not possible yet. However no real reason to worry  since they all live far from the sea.
We think of all the people of this region and hopefully the tsunamis will stop. For now it still shakes regularly in some parts of Japan.
As for the store there should not be any particular disturbance.

The new products have arrived!

2011/03/09

Picture Studio

The new ceramic products have been delivered this morning.
We have just set our homemade photo studio and are ready to take pictures.
The products will be online soon!