Not far from Okutama Station in Tokyo’s westernmost Nishitama-Gun (Nishitama County), the furtherest west you can go in Tokyo by train, is a lovely little spot in the river where the mighty Tamagawa (well, not up here, but later on the river will become huge) is joined by the tiny Hikawa. I love these placid little rivers where you can actually go down and enjoy the waters and the polished river rocks. A hanging bridge allows you to cross easily from the tiny town on the north bank. There is not much to see or do here but if you are overdosing on concrete and the urban jungle of Tokyo, welcome out to the proper forests of Okutama!
At the annual Omiya Matsuri in Omiya City north of Tokyo, in Saitama Prefecture, I saw the splendid ladder acrobatics of the local team. The weather was perfect for ladder acrobatics and they had the whole square in front of Omiya station for themselves. Ladder Acrobatics is probably one of my favorite things to see in Japan, when it comes to traditional culture. It must take some special kind of courage and team work to pull this off!
During the three day Miraitoterasu festival at the Yasukuni Shrine in in Kudanshita district, central Tokyo, one of the museum buildings attached to the shrine was lit up by projection mapping showing the four seasons of the shrine. I must have been here a hundred times but I never tire seeing the shrine covered in cherry blossoms or autumn leaves.
The famous Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo’s Chiyoda ward had a very nice three day culture festival during the weekend and I was there to enjoy the display of traditional sacred dances, the Kaguramai (神楽舞). Each day had between one and two hours of a few sets of dances, performed by one to four dancers. Some of the dances were very rare and not something most people are likely to see even once in their lives here in Japan. Once again Yasukuni brings the most sacred of traditions to the general public, and free of charge as usual. Thank you, Yasukuni Shrine!