The second night of the huge Kurayami Matsuri in Fuchu City, Tokyo, had some very handsome dashi (山車) or festival wagons. These wagons are all fielded by neighborhood organizations and funded by private donations. I once met a group who had just gotten a new one built and they had spent over 30 million yen on it. This one is an unsualy brightly lit one, and it had a special trick up its sleeve, tilting! When a dashi meets another dashi it is customary to “do battle” to see which one will give right of way to the other, and I have never seen a dashi tilt like this before. Even the teenagers playing the traditional music in the front were surprised when it first happened. There are a total of 21 of these taking part in the festival, criss crossing the streets around the shrine for hours. This one belongs to Kotobukicho, a few square blocks of Fuchu City.
I don’t know what to call these dashi, the huge wagons that you’ll see at most bigger festivals, maybe there is a proper term in English? I saw these on the second day of the huge Kurayami matsuri at Fuchu City – the biggest city in Tokyo that you have never visited. Or at least that is how I would describe it to people. The dashi at this festival were staffed my mostly kids and school children. I have never seen so many young people doing the traditional and old fashioned hayashi dancing as in Fuchu City! The future for this festival looks very bright!
Here’s a few photos of kids that I saw at the fantastic Chichibu Night Festival in western Saitama prefecture north of Tokyo, December last year. I think the first photo would do nicely in my “handsome fathers with their kids” ongoing photos project! Maybe I should create a tag for those photos? I also loved how the two cool little men climbed the high wall – sometimes Japanese parents are refreshingly liberal with their kids, not to mention the little girl who took her father’s fan and started to direct the festival float from her spot high up! She was just too adorable not to share with the world! The future of Japan is looking bright! Read more posts about the Chichibu Night festival here!
One of the views and shots I always try to get in a festival is the “approach” of a festival team, a cart or a group. It just looks so magnificent when they come towards you, often on almost empty streets. I love how the festival takes the place of the ordinary running of the town, when even police cars and busses have to give way. It is rare in any modern society to see such scenes that are peaceful at the same time. Here’s one of the three teams that commandeered the town of Chichibu in the grand Night Festival in the beginning of this month. The festival carts, or dashi, are really magnificent and are pulled by the citizens themselves, even kids and teenagers pitch in to help out! The cart has entrances to the back and the front but these are usually used for ceremonial purposes, the men manning the cart from the roof enter through a trap door underneath the wagon. Most people who participate wear traditional festival coats with their names or the names of the group they belong to printed or embroidered. Many groups of friends take pride in wearing the best looking uniforms and especially young women take the chance to get their hair done in some really extravagant styles! The vast majority of festivals are supremely peaceful but in some rougher neighborhoods young men of different teams sometimes flex their muscles in front of rival teams. This festival in Saitama prefecture north of Tokyo though, is one of the best winter time festivals in Japan! You can see my other posts about this festival here.