This year again, I took some time to visit the Zoshigaya Festival held for three days every year, in the area between Minami Ikebukuro and Takada in Tokyo. This festival is quite special as the parade takes place over a large area with hundreds of participants, slowly making their way towards Kishibojin temple. There are no giant festival floats but plenty of “pole dancers”, people who carry poles and dance with them like a cross between a Drum Major and a pole dancer. These poles are heavy too, with a solid block of wood on top and they twirl them around without fear of life or limb. Luckily, the older members of the troupes take care to make sure there are no innocent bystanders getting hurt. The dancers can only last a few minutes before being relieved by one of the other members. Of course, the kids get their own smaller versions as well. The best dancers are amazingly skilled, they throw their poles in the air, twist them around their bodies and generally perform feats that makes my arms ache just by watching them.
The Zoshigaya Festival is also a very difficult festival to get decent pictures of, combination of extremely low light, fast movement and varied light settings of the dark city streets makes it a perfect challenge for any photographer who is not afraid to delete about 99% of the shots taken. More photos to come!