There’s nothing like showing up early to all the big local Japanese summer festivals and wandering around town to take in the teams of hayashi (囃子) performers on their little stages. By the time you’ve seen most of them they will have rotated performers many times around. One of the best I saw at the Hachiouji Matsuri last weekend was this little member of the Miyamoto Hayashiren performing near perfectly with a crowd of admiring kids and adult onlookers! Her dancing and mime performance was so realistic it was impossible to remember that she was actually wearing a mask. She’ll be famous one day! I had to wait for a long time to get clear photos of her performance because so many people were just standing awestruck in front of her. It was just perfect and the kids shaking her hand were just too cute. I think it is a good luck gesture to shake the hands of these performers. Maybe someone who knows more about the hayashi tradition can tell us more?