Usokae Festival, April 27, 2022. 鸴替祭祀,四月二十七号2022年。うそかえ祭 高畑天満宮 2022年4月27日。

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(# Usokae Festival, Takahata Tenmangu, April 27, 2022. #うそかえ祭 高畑天満宮 4/27/2022)
Today I visited Takahata Tenmangu Shrine at Iizakamachi, Fukushima City. A photo above shows a carved wooden doll of uso bird or bullfinch, which is a good-luck talisman. Sugawara-no-Michizane, the god of learning, was enshrined in the shrine. It is said that when he headed toward Kyushu aboard a ship in the old time the ship encountered a storm but uso birds guided the ship safely. This is why the bird is highly respected at the shrine. “Usokae” means changing bad things to good luck, so the bird’s doll is used as a talisman against any kind of bad luck.

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(# Usokae Festival, Takahata Tenmangu, April 27, 2022. #うそかえ祭 高畑天満宮 4/27/2022)
Top photo above shows Takahata Tenmangu Shrine building. And beside it there stand some of the bird’s statues as shown in the middle photo above. The bottom photo shows close-up view.

At the entrance gate of the shrine wisteria flowers were in beautiful bloom as shown above.

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In the precinct of the shrine there was another shrine called Nishine Shrine as shown above.

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This morning I arrived at the shrine around shortly after 10 a.m. but already a long line was formed as shown above. It took 1.5 hours until I reached the shrine office.

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A photo above shows the shrine office where staff members were busy selling wooden dolls. Today was a single day of annual spring Uso Festival and the wooden talismans are provided only today.

Takahata Tenmangu Shrine is located about 10-minute walk from Iizakaonsen Station of Iizaka Line.

The exact route and locations are shown in a map below. The map can be scaled up and down with a click and scroll.

Futaba Dharma Market in Iwaki, Jan. 8, 2022. 双葉达磨市在磐城。双葉ダルマ市(いわき)2022年1月8日。

(# Futaba Dharma Market, Iwaki, Jan. 8, 2022. #双葉ダルマ市 いわき 1/8/2022)
Today I visited Futaba Dharma Market in Iwaki. The market has a long history of 300 years since the Edo period. The town of Futaba has been evacuated right after Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant accident in March, 2011. People of Futaba continued the traditional market at their sheltering place: Iwaki. Because the town is expecting the lifting of evacuation order in June this year, the next year’s event will be held at their hometown. A photo above was a gigantic Dharma doll appeared at the venue.

Tug-of-war event was held with this gigantic Dharma placed in the center and local people divided into east and west groups competed telling the new year’s harvest and businesses according to the results.

Here is a very short 14-sec. video of tug-of-war that gives you the atmosphere on site.

(# Futaba Dharma Market, Iwaki, Jan. 8, 2022. #双葉ダルマ市 いわき 1/8/2022)
Another photo above gives you the festive mood at the venue.

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I purchased a medium-sized Futaba Dharma doll as shown above. The distinctive feature is a blue fringe around the face meaning the Pacific Ocean blue. This market once a year is the only chance to buy this special Dharma. Futaba Dharma dolls are manufactured at Watanabe dharma workshop in Shirakawa.

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The venue of the market today was at the center of Nakoso-Sakai public reconstruction housing complex in Iwaki, where many of the evacuees from Futaba are now living. You can see some of those houses close to the venue in a picture above. Temporary Futaba town office is located close to JR Ueda Station. The town provided free shuttle bus service between the market venue and near the station. I used the service.

The exact route and locations are shown in a map below. The map can be scaled up and down with a click and scroll.

Tanabata Festival and restored Usuiso Beach in Iwaki, August 8th, 2019. (いわきの七夕まつりと再開した薄磯海水浴場、2019年8月8日。)

(Iwaki Tanabata Festival, Iwaki, August 8, 2019. いわき七夕まつり いわき 8/8/2019)
Today was another hot mid-summer day in Fukushima. Iwaki Tanabata Festival or the Star Festival took place at the main streets in front of JR Iwaki Station. A number of large tanabata decorations swayed as they were hung above the crowds as shown in the picture above. Well known Sendai Tanabata Festival was also being held on the same day in Miyagi Prefecture, but please be reminded that this local tanbata festival was also great.



(Iwaki Tanabata Festival, Iwaki, August 8, 2019. いわき七夕まつり いわき 8/8/2019)
Some other photos of today were shown in the pictures above. There were many kinds of them.

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(Usuiso Beach, Iwaki, August 8, 2019. 薄磯海水浴場 いわき 8/8/2019)
In the meantime, more beaches along the Pacific coast reopened in this season (a total of 7) as the reconstruction work of seawalls and access roads were completed after they were destructed by the Great East Japan earthquake and tsunami in 2011. Usuiso beach was one of them, which reopened in 2017, and which was located right next to a landmark Shioyazaki Lighthouse as shown in a picture above. Although not so many people were on the beach today, still, many local families were enjoying sunbathing and swimming.

Usuiso district was severely hit by the tsunami at the time and today new seawalls were built and also new disaster prevention forest belt higher than the seawall was added in the inland area as shown above. The young trees have just started to grow.

The exact route and locations are shown in the map below. The map can be scaled up and down with a click and scroll.
Welcome! 福が満開、福のしま。
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