Last weekend was the stylish (and quite tiny) Miraitoterasu festival at Tokyo’s Yasukuni Shrine and on both the Friday that saw the torrential rains and the mild Sunday there was a display of Tetzutsu Hanabi, handheld fireworks. I wrote a little on the history and art of Tetzutsu fireworks in this blog, so please have look! The Yasukuni event had I think 100 bundles, quite large. One person waited to pick it up while the other one lit it. After a good fire had started it would be picked up and pointed to the sky before going out in a big bang and a final burst of fire directed downwards. Few festivals are as colorful, loud and smelly as this one!
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!
The second day of the famous Mitama Matsuri at the Yasukuni Shrine in central Tokyo we were treated to the always colorful, and loud, Nebuta dancers. This festival which is traditional in northern Japan makes a few guest appearances here and there in Tokyo throughout the year, the giant paper sculpture floats are always a hit with the audience and the peculiar rhythm and chanting is fun to listen to. If you have a chance this year, go to see the other much bigger Nebuta celebrations in and around Tokyo later this summer!
The Mitama matsuri was quite peculiar this year, without the usual food stalls and huge crowds it was much quieter and smoother than usual. Not bad in my opinion! It will certainly be interesting to hear the official evaluations form the shrine itself. The next big people’s festival at Yasukuni Shrine will be the New Year’s Celebrations in December 31st to the first few days of January.