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!
Kameidoten Shrine (亀戸天神社) in Tokyo’s Koto Ward is mostly famous for its fantastic Wisteria Garden that attracts quite a few visitors from April every year when the hanging flowers start blooming. Strangely enough the festival that I went to join on Monday this week is not even listed as one of the main festivals of this shrine although surely it must rate as one of the most photogenic festivals in Tokyo. In fact it is such a minor festival that I saw very few visitors at all! The festival is called Shinkisai (神忌祭), which is to welcome the spring and offer protection for the locals. It is also known as the Torch festival for its use of fire in the ceremonies. In a city built completely in wood, as Edo was back in the mid 17th century when the festival originated, a fire festival is very very unusual! The shrine itself dates back to 1661 when it was moved here to replace an older shrine, and it was consecrated the following year, hence the 350th anniversary celebrations last year. It is one of the many shrines dedicated to the God of Learning, Sugawara no Michizane (AD 845-903). I took these pictures of the shrine as I arrived a little bit early for the festival to start, photos of the actual festival to come later this week! This shrine has a special symbol, the little Bullfinch (Uso in Japanese), a carving of which you can buy at the shrine or see as picture motif on their ema (wooden votive plates).