Amami Superman Photography

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Aug 6, 2009

2009 Hachigatsu Odori

Posted by Amami Superman

Nikon D60, Sigma 30mm f/1.4, 1/80 sec, f/1.4, ISO 1600 -- EXIF
Closed Down Streets

"Hachigatsu odori" basically means "August dancing" in English. I don't know if it's a tradition in other parts of Japan but here in Amami they hold it every year after the funakogi races during the Amami Summer Festival. Small villages from all over the island come to Naze (the central part of Amami City), to sing the traditional songs and dance the traditional dances of their particular village. Although it may seem that the dances look alike, sometimes the songs sound completely different due to the diverse dialect they have here in Amami.

Back before they had tunnels and roads on Amami, a hike to the next village took days because of all the mountains. Going from the northern part of Amami to the southern part was unthinkable unless you went by canoe, in which case it still took days. This is the reason for the diverse dialects here. If you had an old person from the south and an old person from the north sitting beside each other, they would have a hard time communicating with each other. Over the years since the island has made roads and tunnels, there has come to be a sort of universal Amami dialect. Most of the younger generations use this newer dialect but few of the younger generations can understand the true dialects of their home villages anymore.

Nikon D60, Sigma 30mm f/1.4, 1/100 sec, f/1.4, ISO 1600 -- EXIF
Jam Packed

I want to say they had almost a half a mile of street closed off for this event but that seems a bit too much. Maybe a third of a mile. They basically closed off 3 connecting streets for this event. Here is a map of the streets used for this event. The streets they used are marked in a light red.

Nikon D60, Sigma 30mm f/1.4, 1/40 sec, f/1.4, ISO 1600 -- EXIF
Getting Down Island Style

This is a typical picture of hachigatsu odori. The lanterns in the center of the groups have the names of the different villages participating. This particular group is from Ogasari. Ogasari is a village in the very northern part of the Amami. The tables set up around the lantern have lots of cold drinks and alcohol. It's kind of fun to watch the over toasty old men trying to dance and have a good time.

Nikon D60, Sigma 30mm f/1.4, 1/80 sec, f/1.4, ISO 1600 -- EXIF
Taking a Break

This lady was trying to say something to me but I couldn't understand what she was trying to say. I just smiled, nodded my head and then took her photo. I think she was kind of mad at me.

Nikon D60, Sigma 30mm f/1.4, 1/320 sec, f/1.4, ISO 1600 -- EXIF
A Smaller Group

Nikon D60, Sigma 30mm f/1.4, 1/40 sec, f/1.8, ISO 800 -- EXIF
The Man

As I said before, there is always plenty of alcohol during hachigatsu odori and the police are always there to make sure things don't get out of hand. Although, I felt the number of police seemed to be quite a few more than recent years. I think this is due to the fact that they recently had a solar eclipse last month here in Amami and a lot of the visitors are still here. I was surprised to see how many foreigners were still here in Amami at the festival.

Nikon D60, Sigma 30mm f/1.4, 1/30 sec, f/2.8, ISO 900 -- EXIF
Yuma and Jade in Their Yukata

A yukata is summer time type of kimono. It's made from lighter type of fabric than a normal kimono. Yukata are mostly worn during celebrations like this in the summer time.

Yuma and Jade are cousins 4 times remove??? Basically Jade's great great grandma and Yuma's great great Grandma were siblings? I think that's how my wife explained it. Anyway, Yuma used to live in Russia for her father's work. She recently returned to Tokyo to start 1st grade. Yuma's grandparents live here in Amami and when Yuma returns to visit, we always get together. We also watched the solar eclipse together in Tatsugo last month.

Nikon D60, Sigma 30mm f/1.4, 1/30 sec, f/2.8, ISO 1100 -- EXIF
Obi Shot

This is a typical bow used to tie the obi for a yukata. It takes practice to tie an obi and since Japan has been going away from wearing kimonos on a regular basis, many people don't know how to tie an obi. Now when you go to buy a yukata, you'll find already tied obi's. It's kind of like tying your own bow tie or just getting one that's already tied and clipping it on around your neck.


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Keep the language clean please. I have family that see this. Tell us what part of the world you're in.