Odori Park, by Chris Watkins Odori Park - A webcomic comedy of culture shock in love, life, and family, by Chris Watkins


:: Posts Tagged ‘holidays’ ::


Like the drunkest of high school gym teachers (or maybe it was just mine), I totally slept through an opportunity to teach you something interesting. A week ago, on July 7th, Japan celebrated Tanabata, aka, the Star Festival.

This is the Internet, so there’s not much need to rehash information that someone else has already hashed, so I’ll just point you to a Tanabata writeup at David in Japan. (There, you can also check out a video of a girl peeling an orange while she juggles. Which has nothing to do with Tanabata.)

I think the neatest thing about Tanabata is the practice of writing your wishes on paper, and tying those papers to a tree. I think this must be connected to Shinto tradition, which seems to involve a fair amount of tying things to other things. Most specifically, shimenawa, specially braided ropes with strips of folded white paper tied to them. The biggest of these I’ve seen (was I told it’s the longest in Japan?) is in Hokkaido, near the town of Shizunai, which we saw while visiting a good friend the last time we were in Japan as a family. Enjoy the photo.

The giant shimenawa near Shizunai, Hokkaido. Or: How to keep an island from floating away.
The giant shimenawa near Shizunai, Hokkaido.
Or: How to keep an island from floating away.

(If it makes you feel any better, we also neglected to do anything Tanabata related with our son. We’re attentive parents. Later this year, we plan to forget Christmas.)

Fixed the incorrect link code on that David in Japan link, above. Whoops!


About a week and some change ago, in most parts of Japan, the country celebrated the season of O-bon, a Buddhist observance that honors departed ancestors. Even though Halloween has started to pick up a little bit in popularity around Japan, O-bon is the traditional scary time of the year, probably because all those dead souls are believed to come back for a visit during the holiday period.

I have plans for a fun and scary storyline that I’m holding in store for the Halloween season, but I didn’t want to let O-bon pass without so much as a nod. So, in fact, I’ll give two:

  • The Obakemono Project is one of my favorite creepy sites. It’s a beautifully illustrated encyclopedia of all kinds of Japanese ghoulies. I really dig it.
  • A blast from my own past: Zombies Around the World, a Halloween strip I did as part of Peter Delgado Jr.’s annual Zombie-a-Go-Go event, back in 2004. Points to folks who recognize the obscure pop culture references in the Japan panel.

Zombies Around the World

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