Following the tragic earthquake and tsunami, all sporting and entertainment events were cancelled all over Japan as a sign of respect and support for the ones affected. During the past few weeks, all of Japan continued to watch and reconcile the drama that was unfolding at Fukushima – radiation fears, the horror of which this island nation is all well aware of. As time passes, the frequency of images of the incident slowly begin to reduce and Japan tries to start the journey back to what was once “normal”. The start is not without continuous fears due to the never ending aftershocks, any of which could trigger the domino of nuclear plant collapses across the Eastern coastline and cripple the country. Life in Japan without the traditional “Hanami” (Cherry blossom viewing gathering/parties) is unnerving even to me as a resident foreigner and I sought a way to return to images of what I consider my “normal”.
Yabusame at the Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine is a tradition surviving many centuries. This year’s event event included a special service remembering the victims and the families of the earthquake and Tsunami and with prayers for the ones who are in shelters. The best seats in the viewing gallery were reserved for donors, and for people who had come from the impacted Tohoku area. A bright, sunny day brought warmth and cheer and the tradition continued.
For this blog, I wanted to include some pictures of the ceremonies and the riders preparing for the event. It was nice to greet familiar faces and to see some new ones among the riders. The Tsurugaoka Hachimangu shrine still follows strict tradition which forbids female participants but who still played other roles in the staging of the event. At the end of the day, all the riders joined the staff to collect donations for the Tohoku Earthquake relief fund. My thoughts and prayers continue to be with them.