A couple of weekends ago I visited the massively fun Yoshiwara Gion Matsuri, in Shizuoka prefecture’s Fuji City. Like last year’s festival it was huge fun, from morning to midnight and I enjoyed ever second of it. I took these photos near the end of it, following the wonderfully decorated dashi, each crewed and representing a specific neighborhood in the city. Here’s the dashi of Sumiyoshicho and some of it’s very cool looking crew. These dashi are the pride of their neighborhoods and the people take great care of them, making sure they are in top notch condition for the annual festival. I heard somewhere that a typical prize for one of these is about 300 000 USD! Later on, walking down the street I came upon a dashi-seriai (山車競り合い), which roughly translates as “dashi showdown”! I think there were 5 or 6 of them, all drawn up in a tight circle battling it out in a very noise competition where the locals of each team tries to throw the others of their beat! They do this in any way imaginable, complicated rhythms, enthusiastic drumming, strange costumes, loud instruments, chanting… unfortunately I didn’t have time to stick around and see who won – so many things to see that evening!
Fuji City is a bit to the west of Tokyo and it takes a couple of hours on the local trains to get there but it’s well worth the trip!
I couldn’t help myself sneaking a photo of of this cat sleeping on the shoulder of one of the many people out to enjoy the huge Sanja Matsuri about a month ago. He seemed to be snoozing just well up there until “somebody” woke him up by getting too close with a noisy camera. I hope the men and women carrying the omikoshi didn’t mind not being the center of the attention for a few moments!
Although we had unseasonably bad weather in Tokyo over the spring, cold and often rainy, I did my best to capture the spirit of the annual hanami, the flower viewing parties where people go out en masse to enjoy food and drink under the canopies of the many colorful cherry trees all over Japan. Here are a few photos that I took for the French Special.T, as part of their marketing campaign for the new tea flavor, in Europe. I took these photos as the Shinjuku Gyoen, the gorgeous park in Shinjuku, and also in Yotsuya and Ichigaya, where in the last photo you can even see the Sobu line train making a guest appearance! A little late now that the rainy season is almost over, but better late than never!
At the huge Kanda Matsuri earlier this year I saw these horsemen from the Soma Nomaoi cavalry groups taking part in the parade. I just love these horses, and I saw them at their home ground in Fukushima Prefecture last summer. These photos were from the first day of the festival, with lots of rain there were not many people out to see the riders in their armors, banners and swords, but that just made it all the easier for me to get the shots! If you are in Fukushima this year I can really recommend their annual festival!