Tonight starting at 1700 is the biggest Awaodori festival in mainland Japan, the Koenji Awaodori Matsuri. Running since 1957 it attracts about one million visitors and over 10 000 dancers during the two night event. Up until 2011 it always started at 1800, like most Awaodori festivals but in order to save electricity is has been set to start at 1700 since then, which in my opinion works well because you get both a little light and a little night.
However, there is also another massive Awaodori festival taking place in Minamikoshigaya in nearby Saitama tonight, as well as a huge Yosakoi festival in Harajuku. Lots of options tonight!
I took these photos from last year’s festival on the outer edges of the festival area, which are usually not very crowded. Here’s the great Shinjuku Ward Office official team the Tsutsujiren (新宿区役所つつじ連), the Awaodori Tamaki (阿波踊りたまき) and the Mitakaginzaren (みたか銀座連)!
More photos from the grand Fukagawa Hachiman Festival, also known as the Mizukake Matsuri. I took there very early in the day when few omikoshi were anywhere near the shrine. There would be over a hundred of the eventually. There were also still only a few people lined up on the side of the streets with water and hoses and buckets, so the the omikoshi carriers got of relatively easy still. From my own limited experience of this I can say that carrying an omikoshi is bad enough (look at the guys up front – I doubt little things like pain and fear even bother them anymore) without having water randomly thrown or sprayed on your face and head! As usual with Japanese traditions there are highly practical reasons for everything – the omikoshi will toughen anyone up!
Last weekend saw the massive Fukagawa Hachiman Matsuri in Tokyo’s Tomioka Hachimangu, Koto Ward. It ran from the 13th to the 17th but I only mananged to visit on two of the days, missing the grand finale on Sunday. The festivals is famously known as the Mizukakematsuri, or Water splashing festival for the focus on drenching the omikoshi and the participants in water.
The festival grows to many times it usual size once every three years when the grand fesitval takes place. 2014 was one such year! Your next chance to the grand version of this festival is in 2017.
The grand festival at the Kitazawa Hachimangu near Tokyo’s Shimokitazawa district is one of my favorites of the “larger” smaller festivals. There are so many things to see and lots of performances and some very very dedicated local people taking part in the festival. I took these photos in black and white at last year’s festival. This year’s festival is coming up in September!