Tokyobling's Blog

Hachioji Matsuri – Geisha

Posted in Japanese Traditions, People, Places by tokyobling on November 1, 2013

This year too I was lucky to catch the geisha participation at the annual Hachioji festival in western Tokyo’s Hachioji City. This year they didn’t limit themselves to the parade but also had a wagon of their own, pulled by supporters while the geisha inside performed beautifully with singing, the stringed traditional shamisen, flutes and drums. One day I hope to be able to afford a proper night out with these ladies! The stories they could tell would make this japanophiles heart burst!

Hachioji City is often overlooked by many people living in the center of Tokyo but it is more densely populated than central London and has both a vibrant city center and quite a lot of nature. It might not be worth a visit for the casual Tourist but if you spend any length of time in Tokyo I recommend going there, especially if you have the opportunity to see one of their festivals! Hachioji is easily reached by the central JR Chuo Line from Tokyo or Shinjuku stations.













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6 Responses

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  1. yoshizen said, on November 1, 2013 at 8:29 am

    This must be the one the most oddest event I encounter.
    The festival itself may have the core of local Shinto shrine though,
    this Geisha parade seems to be utterly false made-up. = No traditional roots.
    * Why geisha in Hachoji ? ** Why they are in the Ohenro (pilgrimage) style carrying
    Shaku-jyo (metal walking stick) ? *** Why the Matoi of Hi-keshi (Fire-fighter) was there ?

    • tokyobling said, on November 1, 2013 at 8:38 am

      Haha… it is not made up! The festival is old, but I do not know how old it is. The geisha live and work in Hachioji. The stick is traditional, at least it is now, as you know Japanese are good at mingling buddhist and shinto elements! There are plenty of people related to, or working as, fire fighters in the area. (^-^)

      • yoshizen said, on November 1, 2013 at 9:04 am

        Even if it is the voluntary, Fire-fighter is the semi-official org’ and
        I don’t think they agree to undertake a role to invigorate Geisha parade.
        (Of cause, a guy with Matoi may be just a performer = nothing to do with real Fire-fighter org’)

        • tokyobling said, on November 1, 2013 at 2:35 pm

          It is a city festival, so a lot of different companies, organizations, groups and businesses kick in to celebrate. This includes firefighters, people performing with matoi and anyone else that has something to give. If you go see it you will see that there are dozens of groups taking part in different ways. The geisha are just one tiny part of it, although my favorite! (^-^)

  2. Dina Farmer said, on November 3, 2013 at 4:28 am

    Beautiful as always. I guess as a child I never saw anything really like this and I have been to Hachiouji. Love this!!

    • tokyobling said, on November 5, 2013 at 1:39 am

      Thank you! Yes, it is extremely unusual to see real geisha in Tokyo, outside of festivals like this. The Hachoji geisha are always taking part though, which I think is fantastic.

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