At the huge Kanda Matsuri earlier this year I saw these horsemen from the Soma Nomaoi cavalry groups taking part in the parade. I just love these horses, and I saw them at their home ground in Fukushima Prefecture last summer. These photos were from the first day of the festival, with lots of rain there were not many people out to see the riders in their armors, banners and swords, but that just made it all the easier for me to get the shots! If you are in Fukushima this year I can really recommend their annual festival!
Last of the photos of last weekends massive Torigoe Shrine festival! These are from the first day, so you can imagine how lively it must have been on the day of the main event, Sunday. Unfortunately I missed that one but still had lots of fun on the Saturday. Despite being a big festival in the middle of Tokyo it is not very famous with tourists and there were almost as many participants as people just watching – my favorite kind of festival. The last even of the first day is when three of the omikoshi dash into the shrine and maneuver at rather high speed the tight turn before coming at a stop in front of the main shrine building. It takes nerves of steel to stand in the way of one of these huge omikoshi rushing at you even though you know, that most likely, it is going to make the turn just a foot or two in front of you. This time I didn’t have those nerves so I took a safer spot further away from that torii, the gate of the shrine.
For a couple of years now I have been interested in the guys who carry the uma around. The uma are the wooden stands that are pushed underneath the omikoshi whenever it is supposed to stop for a little while.The bigger omikoshi can have three of four but generally they have two uma, carried by a special group of people who take their job very seriously. At some festivals the uma are carried by one or two strongmen but sometimes they have them loaded up on carts and pushed or driven before the omikoshi. Keep any eye out for the uma guys the next time you see an omikoshi in your town!
I visited the first evening of the big Torigoe Shrine Festival in Tokyo’s Taito ward on Saturday. The main day of the matsuri is on Sunday, but the evening before was plenty fun with a thousands of people joining in the festivities as well as standing around enjoying the show! A few of the smaller omikoshi made their way into the shrine while the big famous one waited silently for the big event the following evening. The omikoshi at this festival are all beautifully lit with real candles in long narrow paper lanterns. More photos to come!
The second batch of photos from the second day of the Hanazono Jinja festival in Tokyo’s Shinjuku district. Of the hundreds of festivals I have visited so far, this is the only one where I got so close to the action that I was actually manhandled by one of the festival guys and lifted out of the way, quite possibly for my own good – I am ready to do a lot to get “the photo”, but getting trampled by three ton of omikoshi and people is a little bit too much! Shinjuku festivals are always lively, and this is one of the best. If you missed this year’s festival you should def. not miss next year’s, as it is going to be about three times as lively and three times as packed with people enjoying themselves!