Tag Archives: 2011

Dragon Boat Festival, Hsinchu (龍船節)

Yesterday marked the annual Dragon Boat Festival in the world of Chinese culture. It is celebrated through racing dragon boats – large oar-powered boats with dragon heads. The races resemble that of a Western regatta, with teams competing throughout the day.

These races were held at Nanliao, Hsinchu.

The above boat was towing boats back to the starting point after the race. It would let them go nearby, and the crew of each boat would have to ease it in so they could disembark and let the next team board.

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One Giant Leap

Forgive the clichéd title today. I was digging through my Spring Scream photos and realized I never posted this shot of th e lead singer of TAKAYUKIDAN, or 多火油機團, a Japanese band performing during the second and third nights of the festival in Kenting.

Next week is the Dragon Boat Festival – I hope this week flies by!

Sorry about the pun… I’ll stop now.

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Revisiting Kenting: Moss

Moss is a  Taichung-based psychedelic rock band that I came across on the second night of Spring Scream – and quite by accident. Regardless, they were impossible to miss with their crazy costumes. I have already posted two photos of the band when publishing a preview of Spring Scream in April.

Unfortunately, I haven’t found much of their music online – if you know where it can be found, let me know!

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Spring Scream: Mary Bites Kerry 瑪莉咬凱利

This is a Taiwanese ska band that put on an outstanding show on 4/3 during the third night of the festival. Here’s a site with their music.

   

Kenting Spring Scream 2011, 4/3: Mary Bites Kerry 瑪莉咬凱利

Kenting Spring Scream 2011, 4/3: Mary Bites Kerry 瑪莉咬凱利

Kenting Spring Scream 2011, 4/3: Mary Bites Kerry 瑪莉咬凱利

Kenting Spring Scream 2011, 4/3: Kenting Spring Scream 2011, 4/3: Mary Bites Kerry 瑪莉咬凱利

Kenting Spring Scream 2011, 4/3: Kenting Spring Scream 2011, 4/3: Mary Bites Kerry 瑪莉咬凱利

Kenting Spring Scream 2011, 4/3: Mary Bites Kerry 瑪莉咬凱利

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Festival at Dajia Mazu Temple, Taichung

Part of the Mazu Pilgrimage, which I recently posted about, was an ongoing celebration at a Mazu temple in Taichung. This celebration was going on at the same time the pilgrimage made its way to Changhua just south of the city.

Mazu Festival: Dajia Mazu Temple, Taichung San Tai Zi 2

These gods represent Ne Zha San Tai Zi, or 莲花三太子. He is known as a trickster god, usually represented as a boy, and is seen as playful and mischievous.  You’ll see him even on Taiwanese television, as he has sort of melded into a pop culture symbol.

Mazu Festival: Dajia Mazu Temple, Taichung

These mobile altars were common through the day, as certain gods “visited” Mazu. The man on the left was dressed in traditional clothing and I’m regretting every time that I missed taking his portrait.

Mazu Festival: Dajia Mazu Temple, Taichung

Mazu Festival: Dajia Mazu Temple, Taichung San Tai Zi 3

This man is pulling a San Tai Zi costume off the line, presumably to give the dancer a break. Later, I had a chance to get an image of the three costumes lined up as the dancers rested at the temple.

Mazu Festival: Dajia Mazu Temple, Taichung Gods Lined Up

Mazu Festival: Dajia Mazu Temple, Taichung Offerings

Offerings are given to the temple gods. Notice the pile of burning “ghost money” on the ground at their feet.

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Spring Scream, 4/3: Sea Level 海平面

Sea Level, or 海平面 (hǎi píng miàn), is a Taiwanese band that mixes certain elements of punk, rap, and rock into their songs. They were pretty great to see on stage as the lead singer’s stage presence really took hold.

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Goddess of the Sea

Before I begin, I should mention and thank GigGuide.tw, a primarily English music site in Taiwan which chronicles music on the island. They featured some of my photos in a Spring Scream guide – check them out here.

Instead of covering more bands, as I planned, I’ll switch back to Taoism after some incredible events last weekend.

One of the largest pilgrimages in the world is underway. While many people think of the Muslim Hajj in Mecca or the various festivals in India which draw millions when it comes to these events, a festival currently underway in Taiwan is drawing huge crowds for Mazu, goddess of the sea.

Mazu is worshiped across East and Southeast Asia – especially by seagoing people as in Taiwan. Her blessing is seen as so powerful that people all over Taiwan and some outside of Taiwan will be sure to visit her as she makes her way through various cities.

Last weekend, I went with Yuling to witness such an event in Changhua, a city just south of Taichung.

This festival is indeed a pilgrimage – and a large one at that. It snakes around Taiwan, through various cities which are all excited at the presence of one of the most important gods in Taiwan. The parade processions include costumes, banners, fireworks, horns, and as said earlier, massive crowds. A perfect day for a camera. With the crowds and smoke, my 35mm f/1.8 never left the camera body.

Participants, like these seen above, wear simple clothing and are fed by people while making the trek throughout the island. I was offered food and drink multiple times by complete strangers, testament to the attitude of giving throughout the day. Many temples set out vegetarian food which was free in exchange for a small temple donation.

These scooters were caught up in the endless traffic. We actually left Changhua before it got even worse, with thousands filling the streets at night.

The people kneeling above are prostrating themselves so Mazu’s altar will pass over them. It is said to bring blessings if she visits you – even more if she passes directly overhead.

This man looked over his shoulder at me as the sparklers coming from the sky rained down – the parade had to stop multiple times for fireworks, sparklers, and other things which purposely try to keep the goddess in the town as long as possible so she will bless the residents.

These men were carrying banners and large spears ahead of Mazu as a sort of honor guard. It was great to spend time with the parade in the evening as we got some beautiful light from the setting sun.

   

Left: The crowds in the above photo are waiting for Mazu to arrive as fireworks are laid out before her altar moves through. Right: …and some fireworks to finish off this post. I’ll be back later with another post about this huge event, I’m sure.

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Spring Scream: Samurai Attack (SA)

Samurai Attack, or SA, is a Japanese “Oi”-style punk band that formed in the 80′s and still tours extensively today. I had a chance to see them warming up and dropped into their show about halfway through. Though I couldn’t stay long, I got some of my favorite shots with the 35mm f/1.8 and attached an SB-600 to a cable to use sparingly as strobes were going all over the place anyway.

Video first, then photos below.

The personality of the lead singer helped me take one of my favorite concert images ever as he hoisted the mic above the audience to help them take part in the music. The black and white works well for punk bands, and it makes the noise from the high ISO almost acceptable!

   

Both of the above were taken with the 35mm. As you can imagine, I had great access to the stage and still managed to keep away from the mosh pit! I doubt my camera would like that experience…

The crowd was much larger/thicker than is seen here. While it’s great to show the crowd’s response, it’s sometimes hard without the right angle on the shot or a wide-angle lens.

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Spring Scream Night 2: ONC

This is the first of very many Spring Scream posts as I get photos processed, organized, and uploaded to Flickr.  The first band is a Japanese punk group called ONC. They’ve got an old school punk flavor which I prefer – very much along the lines of Rancid, Black Flag, and some other groups who I’ve always liked.

The first image is a repost from the preview, though it was my favorite. I noticed that my images from this set aren’t as great as they could be for two reasons – first, I was enjoying the show. This group was too fun to take too seriously and everyone was having a great time. Second, I hadn’t yet switched to my 35mm prime f/1.8 lens, which forced me to get up close to the stage. I worked on this the next day and really liked the results.

I originally attached the 70-300, thinking I’d need the distance with the crowds. The nice part about this festival, though was the accessibility - it was easy to move around the stage with the 35mm and the images were much, much clearer.

Before I begin, here’s a link to their Reverbnation page.

I made it a point to not forget the drummer – even though I forgot the bassist in this band! Whoops…

Actually, this should be him above. Something about the lead singer’s haircut is photogenic, though…

In retrospect, the wider angle of the 35 had a lot of advantages I just hadn’t seen until pulling it out of my bag – more on that another time.

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Preview #2 from Spring Scream: Mary Bites Kerry (瑪莉咬凱利)

Yuling and I are waiting at the Kaohsiung HSR station to head back to Jhubei and I found myself with a chance to get everything uploaded to Flickr.  The next part will be cataloging everything now that processing is finished – luckily for me, EXIF data will show what time I took each picture and this handy guide from GigGuide.TW will tell me the English/Chinese/Japanese names of each band.

In the meantime, here’s a photo of the energetic lead singer of Taiwanese ska band Mary Bites Kerry.  If you’re into ska in any way, be sure to check their Indievox page out at http://www.indievox.com/oldhorse.

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