If you are in Tokyo mid-July you could do worse than to visit the massive Mitama matsuri at Tokyo’s famous Yasukuni shrine July 13th to 16th. The Mitama matsuri is most easily explained as a Shinto All Hallows Eve, where the souls of the dead are revered in special ceremonies all over the country. Some shrines though make a bigger event of it, especially those that have been consecrated to enshrine a large number of souls, like the Yasukuni Shrine. The festival is a grand mix of the mitama ceremonies, gorgeous lit lanterns, war remembrance, festival food and drink, traditional performances of everything from taiko drummers to local festivals from far away prefectures.
About 300 000 typically visit during the festival so it is easily one of the most crowded events in Tokyo. There are also opportunities to visit the Yasukuni museum, see the Zero fighter on display and even try some Curry flavored soda, Imperial Navy style!
Getting to Yasukuni is easy since it is conveniently located in the heart of Tokyo. Kudanshita station is the closest, but you can also use Iidabashi (if you prefer JR) or Ichigaya stations (slightly longer to walk).
The yukata is the classic summer dress for both men and women here in Japan and I guess it is possible to think of it as the informal kimono. You know it is summer when you see the first yukata worn casually! They are especially common in more traditional events such as festival and dances but some people like to wear them to the beach even. Tying the belt (the obi) of the yukata can be as complicated as you can make it, or as simple as clipping on a belt, these days there are many varieties available in stores. It is also traditional to wear sandals, but you will often see kids with sneakers or even adults with flip flops or boots these days.
I took these photos of ladies in everyday yukata at the massive Mitama Matsuri at Tokyo’s Yasukuni shrine in the Kudanshita district. A lot of people took the opportunity to pose next to the very attractive yellow paper lanterns! This is one of my favorite Tokyo festivals, held in July every year for several days.
We are in the middle of festival season here in Japan and the warm dark summer nights are just perfect for them! And few festivals can beat the massive Mitama Matsuri held every year over several days in July, at Tokyo’s Yasukuni shrine. I took these snaps from an area of smaller lanterns inside the shrine’s precinct. A lot of people took the opportunity to snap photos of themselves – and a lot of people were wearing fabulous traditional Japanese summer yukata, both men and women. I also found a very cute ema by young Yutaro, whose most fervent wish was to meet the Kamen Rider Wizards – characters from a popular kid’s TV series of super heroes. I guess his mother helped him with the writing though as I assume he was only five!
More gorgeous yukata dresses in Tokyo’s fashionable Harajuku district. My favorite must be the first, the vintage looking pale white, black cat/temari patterned! And don’t miss the two handsome guys in yukata, which is of course much more rare than the girls dressing in this fantastic piece of fashion. There is only one other yukata with a non flower pattern, the butterfly one you can see two the left in one of the photos. I wish I was Japanese, then I’d dress in this kind of fashion every day!