Saturday, August 21, 2010

Haneto Postmortem

Haneto Truth #1: Aleve is your friend.

Oh. My. God.

I walk several miles a week. I can survive all 4.5 days of Comic-Con with almost no soreness. But this week was the most muscle pain I've ever felt for any length of time (nearly four days worth of I-can't-get-out-of-bed stiffness). Make no mistake, this parade is a marathon for a haneto - and I was bouncing til the very end. Which leads me to unofficial rule #2...

Haneto Truth #2: Save your energy.

My first warning should have come from the guy with the megaphone. He said it would take 5-10 minutes to get to the hotel endpoint. I said, "That's it?" and he replied, "That's it."


Looking around, most people seemed to have expended their energy by the halfway mark and were walking the route without shouting the traditional 'rasse rasse rasse ra!'. If you must take a break, maneuver toward the middle away from the onlookers and cameras. The organizers from Aomori cleverly took turns at the megaphone and alternately bouncing. So be conservatively energetic.

Haneto Truth #3: Stay hydrated.

Nebuta-LA site says a water tin or gagashiko is part of the costume. Unless you brought your own canteen, most participants just got a bottle from the water attendants. And maybe some beer...

Haneto Truth #4: Footwear matters.

I've read that the standard footwear is white tabi and zori, and you use to the polka dot towels to fasten the zori to your feet. But I've also seen plenty of 地下足袋, jikatabi with rubber textured soles that contact the ground. Mostly people wore sneakers.

Haneto Truth #5: Bring your own accessories...

I strongly suggest wearing a kimono slip. It's the nature of aizome (indigo dye) to run and stain the first few times you wash or wear it. Even my very modern, machine-sewn aizomo haneto yukata stained a bit at the neck where I sweat and my slip didn't cover. It's not a defect, but it can ruin the clothes you're wearing underneath if you don't take precautions. I'm sure those who went commando left the parade looking like Smurfs when they took it all off.

So yes, wear nagajuban. It will impress your dresser.

Haneto Truth #6: ...but make sure you're presentable.

The haneto yukata is a one-size-fits-all, stiff white cotton, dyed blue with specific nebuta motifs - not at all like a regular yukata. The sleeves are shorter, squared off, no underarm hole or miyatsuguchi. It's possible to alter a regular yukata to look like a haneto costume, but not the other way around, so consider it an investment for future parades.

There was at least one guy in the crowd wearing a passable blue-white yukata, but it was kinda dingy and gray. I suppose it was comfortable and fit him best, but if you must go the mix & match/DIY route be sure to get the best possible look.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Haneto of Aomori Nebuta (青森ねぶたのハネト) - Anatomy of a costume

If you were fortunate enough to see the nebuta in their fully-lit debut glory during the 2007 Nisei Week parade you might find yourself itching to join as a crazy, leaping, chanting, haneto dancer. Angelenos are lucky that 2010 is the third year the Aomori Nebuta will be in town. And it's easy to sign up for.

You can buy or rent these indigo-dyed costumes around August in Aomori, Japan or online at Homura Matsuri. They're damn near impossible to pick up secondhand or used unless you know someone. I picked mine up at Zenshuji for cash :p

The official kit includes:
-花笠 [はながさ] or hanagasa (flower hat)
-浴衣 [ゆかた] or yukata (summer robe)
-襷; 手繦 [たすき] or tasuki (sleeve tie)
-しごき帯 [おび] or shigoki-obi (soft belt)
-お腰 [おこし] or okoshi (underskirt)
-腰紐 [こしひも] koshihimo (waist cord)
-手拭い tenugui no mame-shibori (polka dot towels)

The diagram above includes a velcro 'magic belt', but they're made of non-slip rubber and non-breathable polyester so they instantly add 10 degrees. It's been a cool summer, but I personally didn't go this route. This often comes standard if you own kimono accessories. You can used a contrasting koshihimo as well, or a hanhaba obi if it doesn't restrict your movement.

Common motifs for haneto yukata include:
-the words 青森ねぶた祭 'aomori nebuta'
-bijin or beautiful women
-bells on cords
-flowing water or waves
-bunny rabbits (because 'haneru' means bounce)

It's common in pictures to see people wearing non-standard costumes (like regular non-haneto yukata), as long as they were dressed 'properly', but I think it defeats the spirit of the float. Plenty of volunteers were wearing only the 2010 Nebuta shirts. Otherwise, you can always join in at the end of the parade on First Street.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Yelp LA invades Little Tokyo

From Monday, August 2 to Sunday, August 8!

This week long promotion showcases select local Little Tokyo businesses that are offering exclusive discounts to Yelp passport holders.

Discounts galore:

Aloha Café (
"Buy one, receive one 1/2 off" special on the following items:
Shave Ice
Spam Musubi
Hawaiian Breakfast

Blue Whale Bar (
Free entry all week long (no cover).

Bunkado, Inc. (
Receive a free gift with purchase. ($8.95 value)

Chado Tea Room (
Receive 20% off your bill or 35% off "Champagne Afternoon Tea." (regularly $28)

Cube Boutique (
Receive 20% off any item.

The Far Bar/Chop Suey (
Receive a free Cali-Yelp Roll with your purchase of $10 or more. (Limit one per person.)

Four Leaf - Tea and Crepes ( Receive a free Green Tea or Black Tea Latte with the purchase of any crepe/waffle.

Fugetsu-Do (
Receive 10% off your total purchase.

Hold Up Art (
Receive 12% off any piece (from $20 posters to $1,500 originals).

Izakaya Fu-ga (
Receive 15% off your bill.

Kimski Makes (
Receive an exclusive Kimski designer t-shirt with the purchase of $20 or more.

Kinokuniya Bookstores ( Receive a $5 gift certificate towards your next visit with the purchase of $20 or more.

Kushi Shabu (
Receive 20% off of the Kobe beef AYCE (regularly $38 per person) or the Marbled beef AYCE (regularly $45 per person).

Lazy Ox Canteen (
Receive 20% off your bill. (Excludes Friday and Saturday dinners.)

Mitsuru Café (
Receive a free imagawayaki (famous red bean cake) with the purchase of a menu item meal. (Dine-in only. Valid only on Tuesday, August 3 to Friday, August 6.)

Nail Service (
Receive 15% off OPI's new Axxium Gel 14-day manicure (regularly $35) and/or a half-set lash extension for only $110 (full set regularly $300).

N°A - Number A Boutique (
Receive 15% off your entire purchase.

Oiwake (
Receive 15% off your bill. (Excludes alcohol and specially priced menu items.)

RIF Los Angeles (
Receive a free t-shirt with any purchase.

Six Taste (Food Tours in Los Angeles) ( 20% off Little Tokyo tours on Friday, August 6th and Saturday, August 7th, 2010.
(When booking online, please use Promo Code: YELPPASS10)

Spitz ( Receive a free order of street cart fries or cinnamon sugar pita strips with the purchase of any sandwich, wrap, salad, plate or döner.

Suehiro Cafe (
Receive 15% off your bill.

Threads Café & Lounge (
Receive a free snack with the purchase of $3 or more.

Tofu Village (
Receive 15% off the total bill. (Not valid on All-You-Can-Eat menu.)