Koyo Matsuri – Autumn Festival

KOYO MATSURI- AUTUMN FESTIVAL, IN COWRA JPANESE GARDEN AND CULTURAL CENTRE 4th & 5th May, 2022

The first Cowra Koyo Matsuri festival was last year. It is mainly for children, because 5 May is Children’s Day (子供の日, kodomo no hi) in Japan.

On this day, families flykoinobori, carp-shaped windsocks (carp because of the Chinese legend that a carp that swims upstream becomes a dragon and flies to Heaven, and the resem blance of the waving windsock to swimming fish): a black carp for the father, a red or pink one for the mother, and a blue one (or perhaps green and orange) for each child. 

Cowra Japanese Gardens had several events for this festival. First, they had a Service of Respect for those who died in the Break Out from the Cowra Prisoner-of-war camp. Next, Dr. Geoff Gallop AC, former Premier of Western Australia, gave an oration about “Japanese gardens as a site for business and diplomacy in Australia-Japan relations”. His oratorical skills were impressive.

After then guests moved to our setting chashitsu in the Education Centre for a tea ceremony. Robert Davies gave the explanation while Tomomi Nakaya performed. Ryoko Freeman served the VIPs. Yen-Yu Lin, Irina Subkhanberdina and Takeshi Shibata served other guests from the mizuya (kitchen). We served over thirty guests. The first day concluded with the Mayor’s reception.

The next day, 5th May, Cowra Japanese Garden invited 500 students from the region. We performed chado four times in the morning to 147 students and teachers. Mr Matsunaga kindly donated kompeito. Mrs. Matsunga made small cookies and sweet boxes by origami. Children received Japanese sweets in a pretty box. They were delighted with the presents. Five helpers and Peter Armstrong, Kyoko Mckay from Canberra joined for serving tea. Members took turns in the three roles, temae, explanation, and mizuya.

In the afternoon, we conducted workshops for tw o groups of St. Raphael’s Catholic School Cowra. The Japan Foundation gave us a grant for this workshop. This is a first time to receive a grant and we appreciated the Japan Foundation’s generosity. We introduced Mr. Keiji Shono, Director of the Japan Foundation, to the children. 

 We showed chado demonstration first and after then students tried whisking matcha. We divided the students into two groups, whisking groups and having matcha groups and then swap. After explanation, students tried to whisk. They struggled. Members advised how to whisk properly. Soon, some students got the trick and were whisking nicely. Thirty-nine students and two teachers attended. 

Cowra Japanese Garden’s Chairman, Mr. Bob Griffiths and Manager Shane Budge, Board member Dr. Darel Mitchell were very pleased with our performances. Thay will make a bigger event next year and invited us again. 

Hatsugama in May

On the 8th of May, the Canberra group had our Hatsugama for 2022 in conjunction with Robiraki.

This is our very first time to hold Hatsugama other than in January or February.  In a normal year, it is a hot and humid day when we have Hatsugama in summer, even in Canberra. That weather usually causes problems such as th e discomfort of wearing a Kimono, with preparing of food, and with the fear of sweating into a bowl while whisking tea etc etc.

Having Hatsugama in May seems to solve all problems. 

Everyone attending the Hatsugama was relaxed and cool even when working very hard in the kitchen.

However, due to Covid-19, we had to have alternative procedures from normal.  We began with having Hanabira mochi in two separate groups.  

While I was performing Koicha temae, the members of the first group made koicha (in individual bowls) for the members of the second group, and then they exchanged roles. 

(All members were too busy to take photos of the koicha session). After koicha, it’s time for lunch – wh ich everybody was waiting for.

As it was the first time to get together since last August, everybody enjoyed talking so much that we totally forgot about taking photos again.

After we enjoyed lunch, we did two usucha sessions in the same way we conducted the Koicha session. I wouldn’t mind if next year’s Hatsugama were to be held in May again.

The boys patiently waiting on their best behaviour.