Above: In my last photo of 1998, the famous Yonezawa fusileers ready their cannons to be fired at the stroke of midnight, at Uesugi Shrine in Yonezawa City. They are lighting the ends of their coiled rope that you see here, which acts as a fuse for the weapon. Then they just have to hold on tight!
Above right: My first photo of 1999! I don't know if their faces always look like this, as the movement is quick and people in the audience also involuntarily close their eyes. But I reflexively took this photo at just the right moment. This man may be holding on to his weapon extra tight... is he the one who nearly dropped it last year at a different festival, nearly burning his hands on the muzzle?
Right: As snowflakes slowly fall, the line of fusillers send out their own storm of bullets... well not bullets, but just muzzle flashes and smoke. They will fire often during the course of the next half hour or so, while the other activities at the shrine continue.
Next: Making Mochi
A Japanese New Year
Copyright © 1998, 1999 by Ed Kaspar
All rights reserved