Shibuya Festival – Maruyamacho
Easily the best thing about the festivals, that part which strike me hardest, is the way that the festivals take precedence over everything else. There are no city officials, no policmen, just the local community coming together and enacting the rites of their fathers and father’s fathers before them, and so on, for as long as people have lived in this area (in this case, over 900 years). The omikoshi of Maruyamacho (円山町) stopped traffic and commandeered the streets in their procession through the heart of modern and commercial Shibuya. It was great to see everything stopping around them as they made their way to the big scramble street crossing in front of Shibuya station. I walk these streets often and it’s good to see the connection between the hyper modern fashion sensitive Shibuya and the ancient folk traditions and religions of the local community.
The standard garment for any festival in Japan is the hanten (半纏), a lose coat worn on top of almost anything. Some them are huge, of lose material and favored by for example yosakoi dancers, some are very hard and tightly woven with large threads and fire resistant, the perfect body armor for firefighters. The standard hanten though, can be of almost any material. Some people go ahead and get personalized collars that they attach to their hanten, usually with their personal names or family names and sometimes family crests or club allegiance or official titles. In this case, it is a small crest of Shibuya above the name. On the back of the hanten, you’ll usually find the sedaimon or semon which is usually the crest or symbol of the neighborhood or association. Hanten also make nice souvenirs, especially if you are into antique ones, usually very small.