Once a year the monks at the grand Ikegami Honmonji in Tokyo’s Ota Ward hold a prayer for world peace at a buddhist ceremony at the temple’s pagoda. It is part of the yearly spring festival and the monks are led in procession by my second favorite Japanese tradition, the matoi dancers of the local fire departments. This year’s spring weather has been quite bad with several storms, rain almost every day and very few days of actual sunshine and this Saturday in Ikegami was no exception. The bad weather kept the crowds away so I could get almost as many shots I wanted without having to worry about other people. After a couple of hours into the ceremony and festival the rain started pouring down of course. I have blogged before about the particular branch of buddhism that is practiced at this fantastic temple, just click this tag – 池上本門寺 – to learn more and see more photos. I’ll share more photos of this nice ritual and the rare opening of the pagoda during the week to come!
More photos of last weeks torch festival at the Kameidoten. This time of the main procession involving local kids and adults carrying lit torches along the grounds of the shrine. There were plenty of firefighters on alert and following the procession with water tanks to put out any embers and sparks. The shrine has a very unusual layout with two very steep bridges over a large central pond, surrounded by wisteria plantations. At summer or during daylight it looks almost like someone built a grape plantation in the middle of court yard. I would have loved to take part in a festival like this when I was a kid, imagine carrying around one of those huge torches! Fortunately they kept them pointing downwards, for safety.
There are few things more photogenic than fire, so my camera shutter was really going warm when I visited the Shinkisai, the spring, or torch, festival at the Kameidoten Shrine. Here are some more photos from just before the procession starts outside the shrine. More photos to come! There are also very few festival in spring compared to summer and autumn, so I am making the most of the festivals I can actually visit this this time of the year. If you know of any cool festival anywhere in the country in April, please let me know in the comments!
More photos from the actual Shinkisai, or the Torch Festival at the beautiful Kameidoten Shrine in Tokyo’s Koto Ward. Few things are as photogenic as fire during the half hour just after sunset when the sky is a deep deep blue color. I love these minor festivals taking place around Tokyo where there are many times more people involved in the actual ceremony than there are mere spectators like myself. More photos of the torches to come!