Tokyobling's Blog

Battling Dashi – Ometaisai

Posted in Japanese Traditions, People, Places by tokyobling on June 26, 2014

In Japan there are many kinds of festivals and there a dozens of ways to celebrate them. One of the more common ways is by having individual neighborhoods in the city or the parish to field their own dashi (山車), which are mobile, often huge, mini-shrines. Some are small hand pulled affairs barely large enough to contain a couple of kids on drums while others are massive things wheels that are almost two meters tall, engines, and place for a full traditional orchestra! The musicians are part of hayashi-troupes, with percussion, flutes and dancers they entertain the audience and please both Gods and spirits with their loud and lively music. The dashi are often involved in “battles” when they pass other dash on a parade, and even when they pass special mini stages or shrine they will offer battle with them, trying to throw the others off their rhythm or style.

I took these photos of the festival and the dashi at the annual Ometaisai, Ome Grand Festival, in early May. Another fun detail most people tend to notice is the traditional play with masks that in this ago mass consumerism takes the form of neat little plastic masks for kids and youngsters. There are lots of characters to chose from, traditional to new!

ometaisai_2014_9840

ometaisai_2014_9851

ometaisai_2014_9876

ometaisai_2014_9887

ometaisai_2014_9894

ometaisai_2014_9896

ometaisai_2014_9905

ometaisai_2014_9587

ometaisai_2014_9590

ometaisai_2014_9674

ometaisai_2014_9742

ometaisai_2014_9775

ometaisai_2014_9825

More Hanazono Shrine Festival – Shinjuku

Posted in Japanese Traditions, People, Places by tokyobling on June 20, 2014

More photos from one of my favorite festivals in Tokyo, the grand Hanazono Jinja Matsuri! While being a people’s festival rooted in the local neighborhoods, these days very few people actually live in the parish, so many of the participants are people working in the area or having businesses here, which makes for an interesting crowd. These photos show the main procession, the priests, the dashi (a mobile music platform) pulled by shrine maidens and last but not least several of the omikoshi taking part in the festival. These pass right in front of the famous Isetan departement store in the heart of Shinjuku. As you can see from the photos it gets very crowded! I am already looking forward to next year’s festival which will be much smaller but fun still!

hanazono_shrine_festival_2014_2076

hanazono_shrine_festival_2014_2102

hanazono_shrine_festival_2014_2153

hanazono_shrine_festival_2014_2199

hanazono_shrine_festival_2014_2232

hanazono_shrine_festival_2014_2236

hanazono_shrine_festival_2014_2302

hanazono_shrine_festival_2014_2319

hanazono_shrine_festival_2014_2329

hanazono_shrine_festival_2014_2334

Hanazono Jinja Matsuri – Shinjuku Grand Festival

Posted in Japanese Traditions, People, Places by tokyobling on June 18, 2014

A couple of weeks ago saw the grand Hanazono Jinja festival in Tokyo’s capital, Shinjuku. The festival centers on the Hanazono Shrine almost hidden behind a few tall buildings in Kabukicho. This year was the grand festival in which the main omikoshi of the shrine gets taken out accompanied by a special dashi or festival wagon pulled by a team of the stronger miko, shrine maidens. The dashi is staffed by a kids and adults performing the traditional hayashi music style so famous in Japanese festivals. While all this is going on there are also multiple omikoshi doing the rounds of the parish, and even a few kid sized versions for the smaller members of the community. This is also one of the more crowded festivals of Tokyo and gets a lot of attention in media and tourist information centers. Now, this area of Shinjuku is not the most middle class place to hang out, so the festival can be a little rougher around the edges, drawing a wilder crowd than most festivals. Still there are plenty of families and kids taking part and since this is Japan, it is very safe as long as you stay away from the massive omikoshi!

The first four photos show one of the neighborhood omikoshi just on the edge of Shinjuku’s Golden Gai!

hanazono_shrine_festival_2014_1797

hanazono_shrine_festival_2014_1811

hanazono_shrine_festival_2014_1854

hanazono_shrine_festival_2014_1913

hanazono_shrine_festival_2014_1958

hanazono_shrine_festival_2014_2005

hanazono_shrine_festival_2014_2007

hanazono_shrine_festival_2014_2022

hanazono_shrine_festival_2014_2046

More Yushima Tenjin Matsuri

Posted in Japanese Traditions, People, Places by tokyobling on June 17, 2014

One of the great spring festivals of Tokyo, the Yushima Tenjin Matsuri was as good as usual this year too. I didn’t have much time to spend on it, but I managed to be there for when the omikoshi entered the shrine for the end of the first day’s ceremonies. The omikoshi of this shrine is quite tall and the historical bronze tori (the gate at the front of every shrine, this one being the oldest bronze tori in existence in Tokyo) is quite short making for an interesting moment when the omikoshi is carefully maneuvered into the shrine grounds. Clearing the tori always elicits a cheer from the audience of festival goers!

The path from the tori to the main shrine is usually lined with all kinds of yatai, selling food, drinks and games to adults and kids. One of the most popular is the classic “kingyosuku” or Goldfish Rescue where kids try to fish as many goldfish as possible from a tub of water using a thin piece of paper. I can never understand how they do it. However some parents are not too fond of the idea of a yearly increase of live goldfish so the alternative game of Rubber Ball Rescue is usually even more popular. Fish a certain number of balls from a tub of water. Not as challenging but the kids love picking out their favorite balls. If you have kids and visit a Japanese festival, this might be the best game you can have them try out as the owners of the stands never let a kid go home empty handed!

yushima_tenjin_matsuri_0082

yushima_tenjin_matsuri_0090

yushima_tenjin_matsuri_0102

yushima_tenjin_matsuri_0109

yushima_tenjin_matsuri_0114

yushima_tenjin_matsuri_0140

yushima_tenjin_matsuri_0157

yushima_tenjin_matsuri_0160

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 5,895 other followers

%d bloggers like this: