Tipping the Omikoshi – Fukuro Matsuri
Last weekend we had the big Fukuro Matsuri here in Tokyo’s Ikebukuro district. Ikebukuro has a bit of a reputation for being one of the “wilder” areas of Tokyo (it’s still much safer than any small town in Europe on a Sunday afternoon) but they really do have a slightly more aggressive way of handling their omikoshi, the big portable shrines carried in processions on festival days to honor the gods and bless the community. At certain points during the procession the omikoshi stops, despite its hundreds of kilos in weight, gets thrown in the air and then tipped wildly left to right. Some other festivals do this too, but in Ikebukuro they do it faster: the series of eight photos is taken in less than three seconds, with most of the time spent halting the omikoshi from falling to the ground, and crushing one or several of the brave people who have taken a position right beneath it. I have no idea how they can do that without peeing themselves in fear as the shrine comes crashing down on top of them and then suddenly pulls them up as it goes in the other direction. I managed to catch two of the local braves at the end of their near death experience, I wish I had managed to get a shot of where they are almost bent double under the shrine! The Fukuro Matsuri (Fukuro being a play on the name of the area, Ikebukuro, and means owl) takes place every year at the end of September and again a week later with a massive yosakoi dance festival. If you are into Yosakoi, this is one of the three major yosakoi festivals of the greater Tokyo area. If you are in Tokyo over the weekend, you know where to go!