Yesterday I rushed through one of my favorite festivals here in Tokyo, the massive Mitamamatsuri at the Yasukuni Shrine. Yesterday was the start of the four day event that goes on until Wednesday. Since it was a Sunday there were more people than I have ever seen at this festival before, but the rest of festival should not be so crowded. If you are in Tokyo today or this week, you really should go!
If you are in Tokyo mid-July you could do worse than to visit the massive Mitama matsuri at Tokyo’s famous Yasukuni shrine July 13th to 16th. The Mitama matsuri is most easily explained as a Shinto All Hallows Eve, where the souls of the dead are revered in special ceremonies all over the country. Some shrines though make a bigger event of it, especially those that have been consecrated to enshrine a large number of souls, like the Yasukuni Shrine. The festival is a grand mix of the mitama ceremonies, gorgeous lit lanterns, war remembrance, festival food and drink, traditional performances of everything from taiko drummers to local festivals from far away prefectures.
About 300 000 typically visit during the festival so it is easily one of the most crowded events in Tokyo. There are also opportunities to visit the Yasukuni museum, see the Zero fighter on display and even try some Curry flavored soda, Imperial Navy style!
Getting to Yasukuni is easy since it is conveniently located in the heart of Tokyo. Kudanshita station is the closest, but you can also use Iidabashi (if you prefer JR) or Ichigaya stations (slightly longer to walk).
More of the lovely Jidai Matsuri or the Festival of the Ages in Kyoto, taking place annually through the center of Kyoto. The festival aims to show up important historical figures and costumes from the history of Kyoto, as a sort of historical reenactment celebration of the city’s illustrious history. The costumes ranges about a millenia of history so I am not very read up on the meaning of the different costumes, but among these, my favorite would be the last, with the fantastic colors, patterns and make up! If you are in Kyoto early autumn, make sure not to miss this fantastic parade starting at the Imperial palace and ending up at the Heian Shrine, once a year.
I took these photos of some of the many young and older men taking part in the grand Jidai Matsuri, or festival of the ages, in Kyoto a couple of years ago. From the flute playing young soldiers of the Meiji restoration to nobles of the Heian era, they all represents different eras of the long history of Kyoto.
To explain all the costumes and their significance would take the better part of a month of blog posts. During the festival I was surprised at a number of volunteers who were selling official festival guide books that looked more like magazines, so I am not alone in finding the subject somewhat complicated. Please enjoy the photos at least, even without any accompanying explanations!