The annual festival at the Tomioka Hachimangu is a grand event on normal years, but once every third year the festival goes into hyper mode and grows much larger than usual. The 2014 Fukagawa Hachiman Festival was one of these special years and the rituals and celebrations were massive. I could only visit one of the evenings and one of the days but it must have been great. The festival is also known as the water splashing festival and the streets of the processions are lined with shopkeepers and even local fire departments at the ready to soak the participants!
At the Tomioka Hachimangu a couple of weeks ago I saw this performance of Indonesian gamelan music performed by a mixed troupe of dancers and musicians at the shrine itself. I had never seen it before and the fascinating music and movements were fantastic. Sometimes even traditional Japanese festivals show you things from completely different cultures. The performance was a huge hit with the audience. I overheard lots of people comparing it to the performances they had seen when visiting the island of Bali which in the last few years has become a very popular travel destination for Japanese tourists.
I took so many photos at the grand, once every three years, Fukagawa Hachiman Matsuri a couple of weeks ago. This year I wasn’t about to get as close as last time I visited the festival and got doused in water, ruining my camera. So, here’s a few of the second-best shots, as close as i dared going. I visited on the Saturday of the festival while the main event was on the Sunday, so I missed the fire department and their big hoses for showing the omikoshi and the people underneath!
More photos from the grand Fukagawa Hachiman Festival, also known as the Mizukake Matsuri. I took there very early in the day when few omikoshi were anywhere near the shrine. There would be over a hundred of the eventually. There were also still only a few people lined up on the side of the streets with water and hoses and buckets, so the the omikoshi carriers got of relatively easy still. From my own limited experience of this I can say that carrying an omikoshi is bad enough (look at the guys up front – I doubt little things like pain and fear even bother them anymore) without having water randomly thrown or sprayed on your face and head! As usual with Japanese traditions there are highly practical reasons for everything – the omikoshi will toughen anyone up!