At Ikebukuro’s gigantic Fukuro Matsuri, the Owl Festival, one of Tokyo’s largest Yosakoi competitions, I saw this performance by the team RHK Kizuna, who had a splendid performance including a half second costume change half way through! I don’t know much about yosakoi, the second of Japan’s two large group dance styles. I think I’m particularly pleased wit the last shot in the series. Enjoy!
Last months huge Fukuro Matsuri in Tokyo’s northern Ikebukuro district had the same fantastic Okinawan dancers as the last time I visited the festival in 2010. Okinawan dancing is slow, rhythmic and very colorful. For all the times I have visited Okinawa I have yet to see a real Okinawan dancers in their native land! There is something very “nostalgic” about the sound of this kind of music and it makes even a total foreigner like feel “homesick” for Okinawa. I wonder if other people also feel this?
Last weekend we had the big Fukuro Matsuri here in Tokyo’s Ikebukuro district. Ikebukuro has a bit of a reputation for being one of the “wilder” areas of Tokyo (it’s still much safer than any small town in Europe on a Sunday afternoon) but they really do have a slightly more aggressive way of handling their omikoshi, the big portable shrines carried in processions on festival days to honor the gods and bless the community. At certain points during the procession the omikoshi stops, despite its hundreds of kilos in weight, gets thrown in the air and then tipped wildly left to right. Some other festivals do this too, but in Ikebukuro they do it faster: the series of eight photos is taken in less than three seconds, with most of the time spent halting the omikoshi from falling to the ground, and crushing one or several of the brave people who have taken a position right beneath it. I have no idea how they can do that without peeing themselves in fear as the shrine comes crashing down on top of them and then suddenly pulls them up as it goes in the other direction. I managed to catch two of the local braves at the end of their near death experience, I wish I had managed to get a shot of where they are almost bent double under the shrine! The Fukuro Matsuri (Fukuro being a play on the name of the area, Ikebukuro, and means owl) takes place every year at the end of September and again a week later with a massive yosakoi dance festival. If you are into Yosakoi, this is one of the three major yosakoi festivals of the greater Tokyo area. If you are in Tokyo over the weekend, you know where to go!
In July last year during the strict electricity savings I took these photos at a bondori festival in Zoshigaya near Ikebukuro in central Tokyo. Bonodori festivals are always in the summer, hot, sticky and very intense, one of the classic Japanese summer festivals. It is usually difficult to take photos in the lights from the bonodori lantern decorations, but this summer the festivals were even darker than usual, just as dark as in these pictures, and the only light being a bright red. This particular festival is usually visited by a group of young and very talented taiko drummers. Just editing these pictures I really started to long for summer, before spring has barely started!