Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Belugas Video

Here is a video we took of the Belugas (white whales) at the Nagoya Aquarium... unfortunately this was the last act we saw and we didn't think of making videos earlier. This is also our first time to figure out how to post a video, so now mabye we can do some more interesting ones!

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Bradley's Birthday Day

Here's me looking pleased with the sweet little toaster oven that was one of my birthday presents. I also had a cheese-cake birthday cake with candles and everything.
Next we were off the the Nagoya Aquarium--that's it behind me in this picture.
Two of the dolphins with a trainer. They were so amazing! I had never seen dolphins before--they are incredibly fast and strong and smart. Also, it really seems like they are just having a huge amount of fun swimming, jumping and playing.
Leaping in formation and doing a high verticle jump to bat a dangling soccer ball with its snout.

Here's Caitlin in front of one of the big tropical fish tanks. Big tank and big fish too!

Here's the orca--it was so huge! It also did some performing with the dolphins--though they said this orca is pretty young and has been at the aquarium only a couple of years, so he didn't quite have it down as well as the dolphins, but I don't think that bothered the orca very much.

Orca doing a high jump. It made such a splash that the front rows got wet.
Orca and dolphin buddy. Here you can see the orca's teeth.
Caitlin with her dolphin buddies.

The sea turtles were super cool.

It's a little hard to see, but this is a sting ray with white dots all over its back.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Osu Street Performers' Festival

Last sunday we attended Osu Kannon's much-anticipated autumn street performers' festival. The various passageways and side-roads of the arcade were all filled with street vendors (selling everything from cotton candy to roasted octopus tentacles), traditional candy and toy makers, and a variety of performers, dancers, and pantomimes...

One booth was selling cool sake--scooped up from a giant vat into little wooden boxes--and this definitely made Bradley's day!

Here was a girl dressed up as a traditional porcelein doll.

The two pictures are of one of the traditional candy-makers we saw... He began by scooping up a glob of hot candy-paste and slowly (using his fingers and delicate little sculpting tools) turned each glob into a stunning candy creation, touched up at the end with sugar-paint....

And here's a shot of a traditional metal-toy maker, who was busy fashioning figurines and rubber-band guns out of strips of pliable wiring..

We didn't have a chance to watch the entire performance, but a group of street Noh performers was acting out the story of a tragic romance...

Here's a glimpse of one of the side streets--lined with antique and import stands.

Above is a picture of some very energetic Japanese belly-dancers (they sure know how to undulate, as Bradley said...) and the crowd (almost exclusively men) intently watching and zooming in with their fancy Japanese cameras...

After dark we watched an amazing performance by Japanese fire dancers (including a spectacular sword fight). We managed to get some cool (if somewhat abstract) pictures using our camera's fireworks setting.

The finale was a choreographed buto-style dance using about 12 almost-naked dancers covered in gold and black body paint.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

The Reverend Father Uncle Brad

Well, I finally did my first chapel-wedding ceremony yesterday morning. There was no way of taking pictures of the ceremony, but here is me beforehand... It was a pretty strange experience, to be sure. It was in a super fancy downtown hotel on a sort of walled in porch area on the third floor. The weather was nice. We did a quick practice ceremony, during which I read out the instructions (from a script) to the bride and groom in Japanese that I only vaguely understand: "face each other, next face the crowd, now lift the veil, stand and listen while I talk, etc, etc." Then we went back to the "chapel" area, where the pictures are, and did the ceremony. There were about 30 people there, maybe 10 family members sitting in chairs up front, the rest standing. There was a flower girl and a ring boy who were both very cute. The bride trembled and wept and the groom gave her his hanky, there was a microphone right in my face and I really had no idea what I was doing. But I read through the script (all in Japanese I don't understand at all) and it went pretty well. The Japanese staff "helper" at the chapel was pretty darn nervous and didn't look too happy to me the whole time, though. But no one complained afterward, so I guess it was a success.

The ceremony consists of me announcing the grooms entrance, then welcoming the "congregation" and saying this is so-and-so and so-and-so's wedding. Then I announce the bride's entrance, and they play the wedding march on the PA. Then I do a Bible reading, lead a prayer, give a sermon, recite the vows (they say "hai, chikaimasu" instead of "I do"), do the ring exchange, another prayer, pronounce them husband and wife, say kiss the bride (he only kissed her on the forehead, which I thought was a little lame), have them sign a signbook, pronounce a blessing and then say "Shinrou Shinpu Taijo!" which means something like "here comes the bride and groom!" Then I get the heck out of there.