Tokyobling's Blog

Ometaisai – Candy Rain

Posted in Japanese Traditions, People, Places by tokyobling on May 29, 2015

One of the many ways to lure the kids to attend the local festivals thrown by towns, neighborhoods and shrines around Japan is to offer plenty of loot – preferably candy and snacks! In the grand Ometaisai, the big festival that took place a few weeks ago in Tokyo’s western Ome City, I saw this dashi (mobile stage) and hayashi crew (traditional festival music troupe) organize a little candy rain! The kids had a blast trying to catch the candy and this being Japan and candy being very very cheap, the local neighborhood had arranged for mind blowing amounts of candy to be thrown out, ensuing that everyone would get at least something. I guess most, if not all, dashi of the festival do this because some kids had already brought half full bags of snacks! It was great fun watching the action and the hayashi dancer doing the actual throwing employed all tricks of the trade, underhand throws and all kinds of trick throws.

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Kawagoe Matsuri 2014 – Hayashi Dancers

Posted in Japanese Traditions, People, Places by tokyobling on November 7, 2014

One of my favorite things to do on any festival is to check out the local Hayashi teams, and especially the dancers in masks and costumes. Some teams are made up of locals, others are professional teams that service many festivals and events in a prefecture or city or neighborhood. Each dancer is associated with a certain costume and mask and the dance and movements are unique to each “character”. I have a few favorite characters but I won’t say which! One of the hayashi dancers I saw at the grand Kawagoe Matsuri had her little boy up on stage who enjoyed doing his best to keep the audience and musicians in high spirit. Don’t worry, lots of people were keeping an eye on him and every time he got too close to going over the rail they would grab him by his pants and pull him back. Very funny to watch!

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Popular Hayashi – Kawagoe Matsuri

Posted in Japanese Traditions, People, Places by tokyobling on November 2, 2014

At the famous Kawagoe Matsuri that takes place in the middle of October each year in the city of Kawagoe just north of Tokyo, you can see dozens of different hayashi music teams. These teams man the stationary festival platforms around the city as well as ride along on the large dashi that are pulled around the city at night. Each team consists of a few drummers, one or two flutists and a dancer portraying one or more of several traditional mythological creatures or characters from folklore. The dancer that got the most attention at this year’s festival was probably the man who dressed like a white dog with a wild white mane. He was excellent at mimicking the movements of a dog and his costume looked fantastic. The only thing that could distract me were the four local children having their portrait taken with the festival lanterns. Very cute! As usual – click the photos to see them bigger and in better quality.

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Kawagoe Matsuri – Dashi

Posted in Japanese Traditions, People, Places by tokyobling on October 29, 2014

More photos from the grand Kawagoe Matsuri that took place a couple of weeks ago in the city of Kawaoge, just north of Tokyo in Saitama prefecture. The center point of the festival are the many dashi that get pulled around the city during the two day festival. Pulling them requires the strength of the entire neighborhood and to maneuver them safely require the skilled supervision of dozens of volunteers and staff members. I took these photos of one of the dashi as it was taking a break on the main street of the festival.

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