Island escape: Himakajima

Himakajima octopus
You can fish and dry your own octopus on the island. At the same time they create a specific atmosphere in the streets of Himakajima.

You will have a hard job counting all the octopus images on this tiny island. Even the police station is shaped like one. Octopus and fugu, that is what it’s famous for. The main industries are fishing and tourism. Himakajima makes a nice escape from Nagoya/Toyota. Welcome to the island without traffic lights! (except for one)

Himakajima biking
Rent a bicycle on the island, it’s tiny!

We recommend to rent a bike. You can peddle around the island in less than 1 hour, stops included. Taking your bike on the ferry costs around 1300 Yen, which is more expensive than to rent one.

Himakajima beach
Himakajima beach. You can go on dolphin spotting tours
Himakajima octopus
They have a thing with octopus
Himakajima fugu
Fugu or ‘pufferfish’. Could be dangerous. I always have to think of Homer trying one in ‘The Simpsons’ 🙂
Himakajima octopus
Local children’s art decorates the island

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Duivels en bonen gooien: de betekenis van Setsubun

 

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Wat deden wij op 3 februari? Vast iets helemaal anders dan jullie! We hadden duivelsmaskers op en vingen bonen. We vierden namelijk samen met de Japanners Setsubun, het “bonengooienfestival”. Dat vraagt om een woordje uitleg, niet?

Setsu-bun (letterlijk ‘seizoen-scheiding’) viert het begin van de lente. Die valt op 4 februari, volgens de oude Japanse maankalender dan toch. De lente wordt verwelkomd en men neemt afscheid van de winter. Ceremonies waarin men gedroogde bonen gooit (een verwijzing naar zaaien) worden gehouden in tempels, schrijnen en ook gewoon thuis. Het bonen gooien staat voor het uitdrijven van het kwade, uitgebeeld door de duivels. “Oni wa soto, fuku wa uchi” wordt daarbij gezegd, wat zoveel betekent als ‘duivels ga weg, geluk kom binnen’. 

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Never too young…

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… to go to a baseball game! Baseball is big in Japan – it’s considered the national sport – so we had to see at least one game while here. Nagoya Dragons were up against Osaka. Without knowing we had chosen a very special game, as it was the last game of two Dragon-players. It got really emotional, with lots of Japanese crying their eyes out during the goodbye speeches. The 40+woman that sat next to us wore a jacket of her favourite player covered in hearts and had a towel to wipe her tears.  But who drew the most attention was again our little blond haired, blue eyed ‘kawai’ kid. He got an initiation in the art of cheering and chanting by a true Dragon-fan. It was a fun experience for all of us and the 3,5 (!) hours flew by.

P.S. Nagoya lost big time, but that’s just a detail 🙂