The first and last stop of most omikoshi, the portable shrines (believed to actually house the Gods) carried around town during shinto festivals, are usually the main shrine of the neighborhood. Not always, but usually. You can usually tell by writing where the omikoshi is from as the name of the neighborhood is written on lanterns or uniforms worn by the townspeople carrying it. In this case I saw the omikoshi of Kojimachi town entering Yasukuni Shrine at the Mitama Matsuri in July this year. It was proceeded by a music teams complete with drums and flutes in the darkness of the night. I think you can get an idea for how crowded it was near the head of the shrine, and the closer the omikoshi got the more crowded it got too. I did not get as close as I wanted, but sometimes it is okay to just stand back and observe as well.
If you are in Tokyo or Saitama today and want to see one of the biggest autumn festivals of the year, then do not miss the massive Kawagoe Matsuri today and tomorrow!
The yukata is the classic summer dress for both men and women here in Japan and I guess it is possible to think of it as the informal kimono. You know it is summer when you see the first yukata worn casually! They are especially common in more traditional events such as festival and dances but some people like to wear them to the beach even. Tying the belt (the obi) of the yukata can be as complicated as you can make it, or as simple as clipping on a belt, these days there are many varieties available in stores. It is also traditional to wear sandals, but you will often see kids with sneakers or even adults with flip flops or boots these days.
I took these photos of ladies in everyday yukata at the massive Mitama Matsuri at Tokyo’s Yasukuni shrine in the Kudanshita district. A lot of people took the opportunity to pose next to the very attractive yellow paper lanterns! This is one of my favorite Tokyo festivals, held in July every year for several days.
After yesterday’s post I think it is only fair that I give women a chance to shine as well! Here is students from the Otsuma Women’s University (大妻女子大学) doing a great job with an omikoshi (a portable shrine used in shinto religious festivals all over Japan) at the massive Yasukuni shrine, the Mitama festival. I think that for most of these young women is must be the first time they actually take part in a festival like this. I hope they enjoyed it as much as their cheering audience, and join their own local neighborhood festival teams. The Otsuma Women’s University is one of the most famous women’s universities in Japan and their students usually do quite well in their professional life after graduation. It’s good to see that they are broadening their eduction to include more physical Japanese traditions. I was luck to be near their omikoshi when it arrived at the heart of the shrine, so I don’t know how far they had carried it, but any length of time must be very hard in the heat of Tokyo summer evening.
We are in the middle of festival season here in Japan and the warm dark summer nights are just perfect for them! And few festivals can beat the massive Mitama Matsuri held every year over several days in July, at Tokyo’s Yasukuni shrine. I took these snaps from an area of smaller lanterns inside the shrine’s precinct. A lot of people took the opportunity to snap photos of themselves – and a lot of people were wearing fabulous traditional Japanese summer yukata, both men and women. I also found a very cute ema by young Yutaro, whose most fervent wish was to meet the Kamen Rider Wizards – characters from a popular kid’s TV series of super heroes. I guess his mother helped him with the writing though as I assume he was only five!