September 2006 Archives


Last week, I found a stack of old business cards. As I scanned through the stack to see which ones I could discard, I saw the name of an old friend. I'd lost touch with David, so I decided to look him up on the internet. I was shocked to discover that David was a passenger on the first plane to crash into the World Trade Center on 9/11.
Here in the midwest, world events can seem so remote, involving nobody we know, perhaps we deliberately cultivate that feeling of remoteness, to isolate us from that horror. But the shock that I felt when I discovered this connection, thinking how my friend must have felt during the hijacking and that awful final moment, reminded me that no event is so distant from my life.

BlogTV: Nebuta Festival

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Summer is ending, and the season of summer festivals is coming to an end. One of the world's greatest festivals is the Nebuta Festival in Aomori, at the northern tip of the main island of Japan. When I was in school in Japan, all the students went to the festival, but I was sick and had to stay behind. It is one of my greatest regrets that I missed the spectacle, and I am determined that one day I will travel to see it. And again this year, I missed my chance, the festival was a month ago.
But for some people, when summer ends and the festival is over, preparations for next year are just beginning. This video from NHK Newsworld (in English, 3min 24sec), shows a "nebuta-shi," the artist that makes the grand Nebuta floats, as he assembles and paints his work, taking a full year from concept to final execution.
Nebuta are quite unique, they are gigantic paper paintings draped over a wood and wire sculptural frame, and illuminated from the inside. The translucent paper is painted in opaque black ink and bright watercolors, the light shines out from within, creating a bright, dramatic visual effect against the night sky. Click on the image below to see how the Nebuta are constructed, painted, and presented at the festival.

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