More photos from the mini Nebuta Matsuri in Tokyo’s Shibuya district last weekend! The first time I saw the nebuta matsuri was here in Shibuya, and I didn’t really get the costumes or the strange melody of the flutes, but the more I see it the more I get it and now I think I am hooked. One of these days I have to make my way up north to Aomori prefecture and see this festival “in the wild”!
Just like last year (see my blog here and here) Shibuya threw a mini-Nebuta Matsuri this weekend. You might remember the posts about the much bigger Nebuta Matsuri in Western Tokyo last month. The floats in this mini festival is much smaller than the real things but still look pretty impressive. The strangely addictive Nebuta flutes and drums really helped setting the amotsphere and the kids sent down from a high school and a university in Aomori prefecture were as lively as always!
On Saturday, Tokyo’s Shibuya district (which is more and more becoming the real center of Tokyo, taking over from Shinjuku district just to the north) was guested by one of Japan’s most famous festivals, the Nebuta Matsuri from the north of Japan, Aoyama prefecture, and naturally the most famous aspect of the huge Nebuta Matsuri are the giant festival floats and sculptures made colored paper. The festival dance teams also have pretty unusual costumes and the older more stately dancers move slowly through the streets while the younger members basically jump around! I took these pictures as the parade got ready to start down Shibuyas commercial main street, the Sentagai (Central Street). The younger dancers seemed nervous from the attention and all the cameras and I don’t blame them. Aomori prefecture is pretty much as rural as it gets in Japan, a far cry from busy Tokyo! The dancers were volunteers from Aomori University and by looking at them I think most of them were from the sports teams and martial arts clubs! Just look at those tough kids in the fourth photo or the strong ladies in the fifth photo!
Naturally local politicians, merchant clubs, tax office officials and police also seized the opportunity to join in the fun, including two mascots. In the ninth photo, the green character is the mascot for the E-Tax system, an electronic (hence the e) tax payment system (available for both national and local taxes, helpfully enough) and the orange character in the tenth photo is the official national police mascot, escorted by banner bearers carrying slogans to stand up against organized crime,which is still quite active in Shibuya. Despite what many Japanese think, Shibuya (and the whole country, according to police statistics) has gotten steadily safer in the last few decades, and even as a foreign observer I have noted that the streets of Shibuya are even safer now than just a decade ago.