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February 6-7,2016 Giving thanks for Snow and Water
"Echizen Ono Winter Story"

The “Echizen Ono Winter Story” was held on 6th and 7th February.
This is a festival held in Ono to mark the winter season.
Somewhat surprisingly, Ono had less snow than usual in town this February,
but it held the festival with snow collected in the mountains.

It is this snow which eventually turns into the spring water
which is so important for this town.
Living with heavy snowfalls is tough,
but it has supported both the Carrying Water Project and this festival,
to show our gratitude for the water which is such an important resource.

The highlight of the “Winter Story” was a gorgeous winter fireworks display,
set against the backdrop of the town and the Echizen Ono’s Castle.
The town was lit up by bright light from of Yukimi Toro, lanterns made with snow.

These snow lanterns were all made by volunteers on the morning of the festival.

But look! Who is this little creature?

It is the “Water Sprite”,
who has watched over Ono and its water ever since the age of the dinosaurs.
The sprite usually disguises himself as water as he moves around Ono,
but this year he has plucked up the courage to come along to the “Winter Story.”

School students came up with a name for him
to mark his appearance in the town for the first time.
The name was announced on the day of the festival.

It is Mizuno Megumin: an excellent name for a water sprite,
since it incorporates both megumi (blessing) and mizu (water).

Here is a statue of Megumin, made of snow.

The hut next to the statue is his.
Undoubtedly you are interested in finding out more about him.
His profile is on the Carrying Water Project’s website.
Feel free to take a look!
http://www.carrying-water-project.jp/en/fairy/index.html

The “Echizen Ono – hometown flavors” event is being held here
at the Machinaka Exchange Center.
Here you can try Decchi Yokan (Japanese sweet bean jelly);
Ichigo Daifuku (rice cakes filled with bean paste and strawberry),
Japanese sake, mackerel sushi, taro croquettes,
Japanese sweet dumplings, and other Ono delicacies.
It is a festival of food.
We eat these delicacies as we wait for dusk to fall.

Here is Dekadecchikun, the Decchi Yokan mascot. Everyone, keep your fingers away from his eyes!

Here is origami Mizuno Megumin being made,
while warm under the kotatsu stove.
It’s so well made! How pretty!
Please take one home and use it as an ornament.

It is a mild winter here in Ono, but it is still cold.
You can smell the hot coffee at the Timor Leste coffee booth,
aiding the Carrying Water Project.

Ono City, in co-operation with Japan Committee for UNICEF,
has decided to support Timor Leste in producing its own clean water.
To mark the launch of this of exchange,
there is coffee being offered to all visitors,
brewed with fair trade coffee beans purchased from Timor Leste,
with some of Ono’s renowned water!
The soft water gives the coffee a mild flavor.
A rich and exotic aroma,
reminiscent of the Southern hemisphere fills the air - truly a premium cup of coffee!

Many people have donated money to Timor Leste.
Ono is giving both its goodwill and its water.
Please click on the following web page for more information
on the Timor Leste water assistance project.
http://www.carrying-water-project.jp/en/unicef/index.html

Now it is getting darker.
Candles light up the white snow, embracing Ono with their warm glow.

Then, winter fireworks! Bright lights from the fireworks radiate in a monochrome world.
They light up the castle. A cheer goes out. Snow falls as the “Winter Story” reaches its climax!

Even at night, Mizuno Megumin’s house is crowded with people.

The next day, from early morning onwards,
Ono will be bustling – there is a treasure hunt in the snow
and a store opening at the Shichiken Asa Ichi (Shichiken Street morning market).

Ono citizens are used to the snow,
and they enjoy it to the fullest at the “Winter Story!”
Snow and water are what they prize above all:
something they will always cherish!

Mizuno Megumin will forever grace Ono with his presence,
bestowing the blessings of his water.

Don’t ever forget me, will you!
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