Tokyobling's Blog

Ikebukuro Matsuri – Biggest Festival in Toshima Ward

Posted in Japanese Traditions, People, Places by tokyobling on October 16, 2014

Two weekends ago I visited the annual Ikebukuro Matsuri, which is the biggest festival in Toshima Ward, one of the biggest of the 23 central Tokyo special wards. At one time Ikebukuro was famous for being the spot in the world with more square feet department store than anywhere else, but the recent death of department stores have lead to there being of these. The number of visitors to the festival keeps increasing however, with this year’s festival the busiest ever. I arrived very late to the West exit area of Ikebukuro but saw my favorite omikoshi in Tokyo – the death defying balls of steel no fear omikoshi (as I call it). They stop regularly on their route and tip the omikoshi violently and rapidly back and forth, urging each other to go deeper and deeper. I can not imagine anything that would bring me more mortal fear than being underneath this omikoshi as it tips over, a ton of wood and steel being inches from crushing you stopped at the last moment by tired, sweaty, possibly drunk, neighbors and friends. Still, it is utterly fascinating to watch. Like bungee jumping, but the other way around.

Ikebukuro is famous for being far more rough and tumble than the rest of Tokyo so it is only natural that their festivals take on a slightly wilder nature!

Although the many omikoshi is the main draw of the festival (there are dozens) a lot of people come for the music performances, food stalls, Okinawan dance troupes and taiko drummers. It is an interesting festival to watch!

ikebukuro_matsuri_2014_4912
ikebukuro_matsuri_2014_4922
ikebukuro_matsuri_2014_4943
ikebukuro_matsuri_2014_4984
ikebukuro_matsuri_2014_5006
ikebukuro_matsuri_2014_5018
ikebukuro_matsuri_2014_5039
ikebukuro_matsuri_2014_5041
ikebukuro_matsuri_2014_4893

Ikebukuro Fukuro Matsuri – Festival

Posted in Japanese Traditions, People, Places by tokyobling on November 17, 2013

Back at the end of September this year I visited the annual Fukuro matsuri being held every year at in Ikebukuro’s west area. It is a huge multi day festival where omikoshi teams from all neighborhoods in the area take part. I have blogged about it several times before but every year I see something different. As usual I arrived a little bit late, but just in time to see the omikoshi teams start their parade around pass the Ikebukuro Station West Exit and into the entertainment district to the south west of the station. There must be thousands of participants dressed in the traditional hanten, the short coats that you can see a lot of in these photos. I still haven’t gone through all the photos I took so there will probably be more to come!

ikebukuro_fukuromatsuri_7308

ikebukuro_fukuromatsuri_7313

ikebukuro_fukuromatsuri_7317

ikebukuro_fukuromatsuri_7326

ikebukuro_fukuromatsuri_7328

ikebukuro_fukuromatsuri_7333

ikebukuro_fukuromatsuri_7337

ikebukuro_fukuromatsuri_7346

ikebukuro_fukuromatsuri_7359

ikebukuro_fukuromatsuri_7393

ikebukuro_fukuromatsuri_7411

ikebukuro_fukuromatsuri_7414

ikebukuro_fukuromatsuri_7416

ikebukuro_fukuromatsuri_7421

ikebukuro_fukuromatsuri_7429

Tipping the Omikoshi – Fukuro Matsuri

Posted in Japanese Traditions, People, Places by tokyobling on September 25, 2012

Last weekend we had the big Fukuro Matsuri here in Tokyo’s Ikebukuro district. Ikebukuro has a bit of a reputation for being one of the “wilder” areas of Tokyo (it’s still much safer than any small town in Europe on a Sunday afternoon) but they really do have a slightly more aggressive way of handling their omikoshi, the big portable shrines carried in processions on festival days to honor the gods and bless the community. At certain points during the procession the omikoshi stops, despite its hundreds of kilos in weight, gets thrown in the air and then tipped wildly left to right. Some other festivals do this too, but in Ikebukuro they do it faster: the series of eight photos is taken in less than three seconds, with most of the time spent halting the omikoshi from falling to the ground, and crushing one or several of the brave people who have taken a position right beneath it. I have no idea how they can do that without peeing themselves in fear as the shrine comes crashing down on top of them and then suddenly pulls them up as it goes in the other direction. I managed to catch two of the local braves at the end of their near death experience, I wish I had managed to get a shot of where they are almost bent double under the shrine! The Fukuro Matsuri (Fukuro being a play on the name of the area, Ikebukuro, and means owl) takes place every year at the end of September and again a week later with a massive yosakoi dance festival. If you are into Yosakoi, this is one of the three major yosakoi festivals of the greater Tokyo area. If you are in Tokyo over the weekend, you know where to go!








Rainy Matsuri In Ikebukuro

Posted in Japanese Traditions, Places by tokyobling on October 16, 2010

This post is a couple of weeks late, but here goes! I was passing through Ikebukuro and had an hour to spare watching this years big Ikebukuro Matsuri. There’s two major festivals in October and they cover a whole weekend each so if you’re in Ikebukuro during this month chances are you’ll see a lot of festivals! This night unfortunately, was rainy. Usually, when the rain falls, Japan pretty much shuts down. I have never lived in a country where people are so sensitive to rain! Except that is, for festivals, which almost never ever cancel, unless there is a major typhoon on its way in or something similar. I guess it’s the people attending? The real diehard festival participants are as close you’ll ever get to see the toughest Japanese in town. These people are not likely to be scared by a little rain.

Being one of the carriers is a great honor and almost a rite of passage here in Japan and there is great competition for the toughest places. I have never participated myself, I am sure my relatively delicate frame would buckle under after less then a minute with this one ton shinto portable shrine on my shoulders!





© All images copyrighted. Please use only with permission.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 10,029 other followers

%d bloggers like this: