...and everyone came
08.10.2012 - 08.10.2012 -26 °C
Kunchi means celebration holiday and has a history of more than 370 years. Each year, Nagasaki's historic towns alternate putting on performances, with 5 organising shows this year.
Kunchi has the atmosphere of a street festival with all the acts working their way through the little side streets throughout the day. There was a schedule available on a leaflet but we found it best to follow our eyes and ears, locating performances from the sounds of music, cheering and the hustle and bustle of the crowds.
The first performance we saw was the River Ship organised by Kawafune. We were attracted to it by a distinct drum beat. There were hoards of people circling the performers already but we managed to weave our way through to a good viewing spot. Despite the busy crowd, everyone was cheering, clapping and having fun.
The second performance we saw was the Dragon Dance organised by Kago-Machi. This was traditionally performed in China as part of a rainmaking ceremony. Based on what we've seen, we're trying to concoct a similar number to bring the sun home.
The music, which represented in different parts the Dragon's voice and the different weather, added a jubilant carnival style atmosphere. The way it combined with the movement of the performance meant that we were entranced from start to finish.
The third performance was the Lion Dance organised by Tamazono-Machi. The performers' acrobatics in this were a real crowd pleaser. Caught up in the spirit of the moment, we threw caution to the wind and engaged in our own acrobatics- Ashton gave Emma a cheeky piggyback to ensure some top quality photos. I think the results speak for themselves:
Up next was the Dutch Ship organised by Edo-Machi. Imagine lots of chanting and whistles and you're pretty much there:
Finally, we saw some female dancers, styled as geishas performing to music played on the samisen. They got their fans out and gave us a bit of jig about.
A quick hose down and a spruce up later and we headed off for Mt Inasa. We got the ropewalk (or cable car to us English folk) to the top of the mountain. It was a short walk to the tall circular observatory building which we climbed via a spiral staircase. We arrived just as the sun was setting creating an orange/red tint across the horizon as a backdrop for the islands and mountains beside the bay.
The sun went down quickly to leave a completely black backdrop which afforded the best views of the city lights on the other side of the observatory. Looking down upon the whole of Nagasaki lit up in a hubub of movement was breathtaking. It was strangely peaceful and all quiet apart from the chorus of insects that you can hear in the surrounding mountain foliage.
Oh yea, did we mention that we'd eaten a fish and seaweed sprinkled pancake today and listened to a Japanese/Spanish traveller who looked Jamaican play the didgeridoo. It's a party in Nagasaki (but not in our mouths after the pancake- blergh!)