Lots of festivals recently but I can’t really help myself from keep posting them! Summer is the great festival season of Japan and here in Tokyo you really are spoilt for choices, especially if you don’t mind spending a couple of hours on the train getting out of the city! One of my favorite “near Tokyo” festivals is the grand Narita Gionsai, where the rather huge dashi of the city are pulled up and down the narrow – and very steep! – streets of Narita Old Town! The festival is next month and quite famous, it will be hard to miss if you are in the area.
One of my favorite parts of the festival is when the dashi pass on of the traditional inns of Narita Old Town, and the guests on the upper floors dangle out donations of cash on long fishing rods! The men on the roofs of the dashi do their best to catch them. I have only visited this festival once and am not so familiar with the whys and the wherefores of this aspect of the festival, but it looks fun!
I spent yesterday in Fuji City, in Shizuoka Prefecture which is two prefectures over west from Tokyo, visiting the lovely and colorful Yoshiwara Gionsai, famous for its many dashi (mobile festival platforms). The festival was as great as ever, despite the tiny bit of rain that fell at the end of the festival. You would be excused for not believing that we were actually in the middle of the rain period here in Japan, but so far there has not been very much of it.
The main attraction of the Yoshiwara Gion Festival is the main street in Yoshiwara Honcho, where the different dashi are pulled up and down the streets by the members of the neighborhood they represent. The dashi are manned by kids and adults who play the more or less traditional music of these festival. When I say more or less I mean that Shizuoka is famous for being slightly more innovative in the music and rhythm sections of their festivals and the kids have quite a bit of freedom in deciding how they are going to perform. Most opt for the traditional way but there are a few far away influences to some of teams drumming or dancing!