Shingen-ko Matsuri


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Kofu is at the top of my ‘to visit’ list next time I’m in Japan, which will hopefully be next year! With any luck I’ll be able to coincide a stop to this city in Yamanashi Prefecture with the fantastic-looking Shingen-ko Matsuri.

The festival

The Shingen-ko Matsuri is held in Kofu in early April, and celebrates the virtues of the city’s most famous samurai, Takeda Shingen. Replicas of the Furinkazan, his representative flag, decorate the city but the highlight is the Koshu Batalion Deployment, where around 1,500 Yamanashi locals dres in traditional costumes and march along with torches. The parade starts at 5pm in front of Kofu station.

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There is also a contest the day before the parade to determine who will represent Shingen’s wife. Over the weekend, there are also food and game booths in the Kofu Joshi Ruin, where the castle formerly stood, and in Kofu downtown.

I think it’s quite clear why I want to go to this, as Takeda Shingen is one of my favourite samurai.

About Takeda Shingen

Shingen was a powerful warlord in the Sengoku era, and is particularly famous for his Takeda cavalry and leading the one and only defeat against Tokugawa Ieyasu, who later became shogun and unifier of Japan, in the battle of Mikatagahara. He was an exemplar warlord and many of his governing methods were later adopted by Tokugawa Ieyasu when he founded the Tokugawa shogunate. He was served loyally in war by his famous “twenty-four generals”. According to the Koyo Gunkan, the great military records of the Takeda family, the Takeda army consisted of 33,736 men in 1573. Shingen’s greatest rival was Uesugi Kenshin, and they fought on five occasions at Kawanakajima with the fourth battle there in 1561 being their greatest contest.

There are varying accounts of Takeda Shingen’s death. At the age of 49, he was the only daimyo with the necessary resources and tactical skills to stop Oda Nobunaga’s attempts to rule Japan.

When Takeda Shingen was 49 years old, he was the only daimyo with the necessary power and tactical skill to stop Oda Nobunaga’s rush to rule Japan. After the battle of Mikatagahara, Shingen stopped his advance temporarily due to outside influences, which allowed the combined forces of the Oda and Tokugawa to prepare for battle again. He entered Mikawa Province, but soon died in the camp. Some accounts say he succumbed to an old war wound and others say a sniper shot him. He was succeeded by his son Katsuyori, who was defeated by the Oda and Tokugawa forces at Nagashino, and the Takeda clan never recovered.

Back to blogging!

As you’ve probably gathered, I’m back from holiday and getting straight back to blogging. I’m having trouble believing I’m in England given the weather, mind. Anyway, I decided to kick things off with a look at something I’m really hoping to go to next year. That’s right, I’m planning my next trip around Japan!

Photo sources: visitbeautifuljapantraveljapanblog

Send Sophie to Japan: Blog to Japan competition entry


Here it is, the fruit of my labours for the past few weeks. This is my blog entry for Inside Japan Tour’s Blog to Japan competition, which coincides with the tour group’s 12 year anniversary. Entrants have to present twelve reasons as to why they should be selected as the lucky winner. The prize is a two and a half week adventure around Japan and the winner has to share their experience of this wonderful country by writing a daily blog.

The video…

So, here is the video I have spent a good week editing and re-editing to make as persuasive as possible! Every campaign needs a name and this one is appropriately named Send Sophie to Japan.

Here is a lovely photo of my friend Leah with the mother of Koshi Inaba, one of the greatest rock stars in Japan. For some reason this picture didn’t appear in the Youtube video so I’m including it here so it makes sense!

As you will see in the video, I should be sent to Japan (in a box, if necessary!) because:

1) I’m a proven and passionate Japan blogger

2) I’ve visited Japanese events and written articles in the UK and Europe

3) I’m adventurous!

4) I know where I want to visit and want to step off the beaten track

5) I love Japanese history, especially the samurai

6) I want to write a novel set in Japan and need to do some research to make it authentic

7) I want to meet the wonderful Japanese people in their home country

8)  I love Japanese food

9) I am in love with Japan’s natural scenery, especially the famous Nihon Sankei

10) This is the perfect opportunity to put my language skills into practice

11) I have penfriends scattered across Japan who I’d love to meet in person

12) Just ask my friends!

I also made a top 12 list of things I want to do in Japan:

1) Take in the majesty of the Nihon Sankei: Matsushima Bay, Miyajima Island and Amanohashidate

2) Dance in the crowded streets during a matsuri

3) Read manga in a cat cafe

4) See a Takarazuka performance

5) Experience a traditional tea ceremony

6) Meditate in a remote Buddhist temple or Shinto shrine

7) Buy the freshest sushi at the Tsukiji fish market

8) Eat traditional gyutan (beef tongue) in Sendai

9) Stock up on anime memorabilia in Akihabara

10) Visit the Studio Ghibli Museum

11) Ride the high speed Shinkansen

12) Meet up with my friends in Japan and take them out for dinner… and make some new ones too!

Tokyo

About Sophie’s Japan Blog

The fact that Sophie’s Japan Blog is celebrating its one year (12 month!) anniversary at the moment makes me feel like it was fate that I found out about this competition. In the past year, I’ve learned much more than I thought was possible just by researching, blogging and speaking to other bloggers in Japan and the UK.

If you have a look around the website, you’ll see how it’s grown and developed. I ran a Japanalphabet Twitter campaign last year, where I shared some particular features about the country’s traditional and modern culture with my followers. I’ve also written a couple of guest articles for various websites and magazines and expanded my reading list with a dedicated Book of the Month feature.

One of my secret hopes when I started this blog was that someone would pick it up and send me to Japan… and perhaps I can really realise this dream!

If you Send Sophie to Japan…

On a daily basis, you could expect to see plenty of photos and short video blogs accompanied by the music I’d no doubt discover over there, sprinkled with observations and comments from my travel companion and myself. I’m famously generous with my camera so there would also be plenty of footage with which to make some longer videos and posts when I got back! I would also create a section on the blog dedicated to the competition so the experience would be digitally immortalised for all to see!

There would even be something in it for the readers too! I often run giveaways through the blog, so it would be wrong if I didn’t buy something on my travels for a lucky someone.

Kakunodate

Winning this competition would allow me to combine my two greatest passions; writing and travelling.

Miyajima Island

Thank you

I really hope that you’ve found this entry interesting as it’s certainly been fun and challenging to make. I’d like to thank my friends who appeared in the video and all of my readers who motivated me to enter. The next stage of the competition is the selection of the three finalists, who the public will then vote on! So, if I’m lucky to make it that far, I’ll let you know! It’s been quite eye-opening putting this entry together. One thing is for certain, I think I have a good voice for documentaries!

All images from the Inside Japan Tours website and Leah Holmes

Kofu shout out!


Well, now that I am officially employed (hurrah!) the blog posts are definitely going to be shorter … at least for a few weeks whilst I balance it out with my ongoing eBay clearout. I’m doing something different this week! Some of you may know that I’m currently doing research for a story, set in Sengoku-era Japan.

Without giving much away, as it’s still a work in progress, it’s set in Kofu and focuses on the clashes between Takeda Shingen and Tokugawa Ieyasu. What I’m lacking is information on the Kai province (which no longer exists); photos, blogs and so on. I’m therefore asking people if they have any information on Kai, particularly the city of Kofu. Any information, stories, pictures or just general knowledge would be great. Everything will help. Either contact me on Twitter or email sophiesjapanblog@live.co.uk . Thank you in advance!

Source: camelsaloonasia @ blogspot