I saw these two wonderfully cute little wadaiko (taiko) drummers in Mishima in the middle of last month. They performed as a mixed group of local taiko groups and drummers from some towns in Miyagi prefecture that are trying to rebuild themselves. It was an excellent perfumers. I love how these two just look so professional before going on stage. I wish I could be this cool!
If you’ve followed this blog for a while you’ll know that one of my favorite areas of Japan is Shizuoka prefecture, and of course, the summer festivals the cities and villages in this lovely part of Japan has to offer! In August it’s Mishima’s turn to take center stage with their huge Mishima summer festival. I visited last year and took these photos. Mishima is mostly famous for having incredibly clean water, and although I have tried water that is said to be even better, the water I tasted in Mishima was by far the best I have ever tasted. If you’re in Shizuoka prefecture over the summer, this is a must visit!
Earlier this year as I visited the festival in Yoshiwara I was reminded of the rakugai senbei I saw at the Mishima festival (not far away at all) about a year earlier. They are a slightly rare sight at most festivals, but always fun to watch and very popular with kids! The senbei is a flat sweet rice cake, and the rakugaki means graffiti, or drawings. The kids draw their own designs on the flat cakes in gum syrup, very sweet, and when they are done the girl (it’s almost always a girl) will take them and add sweet and sour sparkly powder to the wet and sticky paint. Most kids love it! Absolutely not very healthy and not very cheap either, but what parents could resist giving their kid a chance to do this? You can see some of the expert example designs made before hand. Most kids aren’t quite there in their artistic ability yet!
August every year sees one of the grandest festivals in Shizuoka prefecture to the south west from Tokyo, in the city of Mishima. Not far from the coast Mishima is mostly famoys for having wonderfully clean water. Many cities around the world claim to have delicious water but when I tried the public water fountains in Mishima I really had to agree that it was really fantastic. The city has a few streams that are so clear it is like looking through glass. But the reason I went there was to see the annual Mishima Matsuri. Like in many other festivals this one too is based on the different neighborhoods putting together teams that keep on huge festival wagon and entertain during the festival. In the early evenings all of the cities different wagons start flowing together in the Mishima main street, converging after hours of constant playing at the front of the Mishima Taishi, a grand shrine and one of the most important in the Shizuoka area. As the day turn into evening the performance keeps going up in speed and intensity, in the last four photos we are very near the grand shrine, the neighborhood team has called in all reserves and the musicians are now standing on the roof of the wagon chanting and trying to make as much noise as possible to drown out the competition, scores of these teams have converged and everyone is vying for the attention of the spirits. It’s great fun to see, especially as the leader sets the rhythm and calls the chanting breaking out into what looks most like synchronized dancing on top of the wagon. Many of them wear LED light jewelry and bangles to attract more attention to themselves and as you can see they are all drenched in sweat from many hours of perfoming in the late summer heat. Again it’s really moving to see the different generations of people working together for the sake of their community! More photos from this great festival to come!