Opening Day of the Rainbow Festival at Aso Mountain, Kyushu Island, Japan

A Japanese carp windsock flies from a tipi on the opening day of the Rainbow Festival at Aso Mountain.

The festival information booth is manned by the children of the organizers and performers. When Sachiho, Kanako and I returned from Kumamoto, we offered them rice crackers, which they happily ate.

When you pay your admission to the festival, you get a necklace made of cotton cord and your choice of nine stone pendants, all shaped as a curved teardrop, like half of a Taoist yin-yang symbol. Each stone is noted with its healing qualities. I dowsed with a pendulum and chose the blue sodalite stone, for clearing the mind and communicating.  Good idea if you are in a country where you are illiterate.

Daisuke, now the honcho of the information booth, made a special necklace for Sachiho, weaving together several colored strands of cotton and using three stones.

The festival programs and t-shirts all bear the art from the cover of Living on the Earth.

I returned to my cabin, and was met there by my first customer for books and CDs. Her name is Sakura (cherry blossom) and she played me some songs on her ukulele.

I went out to see the newly erected food, clothing and gift booths that the festival attendees had constructed. At Garammasala, an import and beer stand, I bought myself a longsleeved cotton t-shirt from India.

Rokuro Matsui, the organizer of the festival, chose a stage design reflecting his love of tipis. Here he is about to open the festival with a solo vocal/guitar performance…

…appropriately attired in a rainbow sweater over a tie-dyed t-shirt.

At this festival, children are allowed on stage during the performances, and these little ones were so pleased to join Rokuro.

On the first day, the audience is sparce, but, since the festival occurs during Japan’s Golden Week, when just about everyone goes on vacation, soon there will be up to one thousand people watching the shows.

I met Satomi, Toshi and their baby Sola. Toshi goes yearly to Arizona to attend Native American dance events.

I bought vegetables on my way back to the festival, and, since tonight was the last night the pre-festival community kitchen still stood, and I took the opportunity to prepare a huge California style salad as a gift to the people at the festival.

Peace activist author Takashi Masaki (known to his friends as Maisa) sang with two friends at the festival. The latest of his many books is called Flying Buddha. He recently organized a very long peace march called Walk Nine, which is to protest the proposed end of Article Nine, the part of the Japanese constitution imposed by the USA after World War II declaring Japan shall not have a military, ushering in an era of unprecedented peace and prosperity. Maisa’s group is also speaking out against Japan’s nuclear power plants, which plan to begin releasing radiation into the air starting next November.

Next we heard an Okinawan group presenting traditional music.

After that, a very avant garde jazz singer, accompanied only by bass guitar and bongos, performed for us.

I was happy to meet so many new friends.