There’s so many festivals, events and performances going on today here in Tokyo that you are agonizing over which one to go to right now! I won’t list them all, but one event that is worth attending if you haven’t been to many festivals this year, is the Nezu Shrine festival, the main event being today. I went there yesterday and saw this great performance by the Nezu Gongendaiko (根津権現太鼓) taiko drum group. They have two performances today and later on at night they also perform a much more limited set at the nearby bonodori street party. The performance I saw was an all woman drummer event and they were great. Groups with male drummers tend to focus more on raw power whereas the ladies are more into group interaction, one drummer will pick up the rhythm of another, and showy drum movements, switching drums or hitting more than one drum at a time. It’s great fun to watch and you really must be there because I have yet to hear a recording or see a video that comes even close to capturing what it really sounds like.
Some more photos from the Akita Kanto Festival team visiting the big Furusato Matsuri at Tokyo Dome last year. Accompanying the team was of course musicians, including taiko drummers. These are photos from the parade as the poles and lanterns are carried around the arena. At the Furusato Matsuri (meaning the “home town festival”) famous festivals from all over Japan take turn entertaining the audience, when I was at the festival it was this team from Akita prefecture, and also Awaodori dancers from Tokushima prefecture and dancers from Okinawa in the south. It is held every year in January, over several days in the huge Tokyo Dome arena. Recommended!
Every summer Tokyo is full of festivals. In a city of over 12.5 millions it’s only to be expected that you can’t find all of the festivals. I have been here over a decade and still there are festivals I have never even heard of passing by every week, even if I make a point of seeing them I end up missing them several years in a row. It’s difficult to even find information about them, so I guess I was just lucky to be told by someone who knew someone who had head about the little known and very local festival in Tokyo’s Edogawa Ward, just next to Chiba prefecture, near Kasai Station on the Tozai subway line. The Nagashima Yakumo Shrine festival (長島八雲神社例大祭) is so unknown that even the festival captain, a big, bald, handsome man with an even bigger and friendlier personality picked me out in the crowd of the out of towners who had come to look, all two of us! I really hadn’t expected to find such a local festival right in Tokyo so I was very pleasantly surprised! These photos are from near the end of the festival when the three omikoshi gathers at the shrine for the final ceremony. Accompanied by an expert but all to brief performance by a small all female taiko drummer troupe. I think there must be a lot of seriously beautiful people in Kasai! But the final event was even more interesting, on stage we were suddenly greeted by Mr. Kurita Kanichi (栗田貫一) who is not only a famous comedian and talented singer (well, most Japanese are actually pretty good singers) but also the voice actor of one of the most famous classic anime shows in the history of Japanese television: Lupin the Third! How lucky am I!? I think he must be a local celebrity lending a bit of glamour to the festival.