Friday, 29 April 2011

Nagisa Music Festival

This week saw the start of Golden Week and a much needed holiday. We had heard about the Nagisa Music Festival that was being held just down the road in Maishima, where the Maishima waste disposal plant is situated (see here). Although I had not heard of most of the artists playing (apart from DJ Krush and Tei Towa) I thought it was worth checking out and a great way to begin the holiday.

The journey took about 50 mins by Bicycle and we could see the festival as we rode over the huge bridge which connects the island  to the main city. It was a beautiful day and the music could be heard drifting across as we left the bridge. It's been about four years since I last attended a music festival so I felt quite excited at the prospect, but at the same time wondered if my body could still handle it!

The approach to the festival, across the bridge.

We arrived at the festival around 12.30 PM and there were already many people there. We spent most of the afternoon just wandering around the different stages, listening for a short time to one artist then moving on to another, just soaking up the atmosphere. Maishima is the perfect place to have a festival as the surroundings mainly consist of industrial warehouses so no chance of irate neighbours! Having said that, the area is surprisingly picturesque, surrounded by water with the mountains in the distance and plenty of green areas.

The music consisted mostly of techno and trance which was reflected in many of the festival goers outfits, with a lot of brightly coloured clothing on display, took me right back to music festivals of the 90's!

One of the main stages.

For me the highlights of the show were DJ Krush and Tei Towa who were headlining. The last time I saw DJ Krush play was about 12 years ago in Brighton when his music was predominantly laid back hip-hop but seeing him play at the festival I was really suprised to hear how much he has changed! This time round his music was far from laid back as he bombarded the crowd with a full on, old school drum and bass set. Despite my worries of not being able to handle the bodily punishment of a festival, I could still just about manage to keep up with the crowd, although my left knee was giving me some trouble by the end! The final performer we saw was Tei Towa (formerly of, Deee-lite), who I had looked forward to seeing the most. I was not disappointed as he played a great set that ended the festival on a high note, his many years as a DJ evident in his ability to move the crowd (check out the small clips below).

Overall, a great start to Golden Week! The festival has left me hungry for more music events in Osaka and I look forward to attending Summer Sonic, a music festival which is held in the same location. I was generally impressed by the organisation and cleanliness of the whole event, although I have to say one thing, it seems like wherever you are in the world, festival toilets are always going to be a hit or miss affair!

Thursday, 14 April 2011

Osaka Castle

I paid a visit to Osaka castle a couple of days ago to take a look at the cherry blossom for one more time before it all disappears. I had been to the castle a few years ago during the winter but this time the weather was much more agreeable and the sun was shining. I cycled to the castle from home which takes about 40 mins and parked my bike just outside the park. Rather than go into the castle itself this time I took a route around the building and through the park and gardens that surround the moat. There were still many people out enjoying the cherry trees in bloom from old couples to young office workers out for a picnic.

It took me around an hour to do a complete tour of the grounds but it was very enjoyable and nice to know such a fantastic place is a mere bike ride away!
The castle

Workers tending to the plum grove

Young couples out for a stroll

Picnics in the park

The castle moat

Office buildings loom in the distance

Banpaku Park Cherry Blossom

Last Sunday we headed over to Banpaku park to see the cherry trees in bloom. It was a beautiful warm day and it seemed as if half the population of Osaka had turned up as well! The Monorail to the park was jam packed and we had trouble getting on, luckily it was only one stop! This was my second visit to Banpaku (see here) and a chance to see some areas we had missed before. After having a small picnic we took a stroll through one of the pathways through the cherry trees, this was my first time in Japan during springtime and I was amazed by how beautiful the trees were, it was quite breathtaking!

We also visited the Japanese gardens (you would think all gardens in Japan are Japanese!) just outside the park which have some wonderful flowers and plants. This area was much more peaceful than the main park and a welcome retreat from all the noise. Well worth visiting to see the huge Koi fish.

I was very impressed by my first cherry blossom viewing but next year I think we will visit somewhere a little more peaceful!

Now, where shall we spread our picnic blanket?

Cherry blossom as far as the eye can see

Market stalls

More blossom

A colorful scene

The Tower of the Sun

A flower in the Japanese garden

Nice rocks

More blossom

By the river