Tokyobling's Blog

Ometaisai Snapshots

Posted in Japanese Traditions, People, Places by tokyobling on June 1, 2015

Some more snapshots from last months grand Ometaisai in the western part of Tokyo, Ome City (青梅市). The festival takes place along and near the old Omekaido, one of the great “highways” of old Japan and the main artery of all trade, commerce, travel and transport for hundreds of years. Along the way of the festival area there are several hayashi stations, where performers in traditional costumes entertain the passing dashi, great mobile stages. Each hayashi is managed by a different neighborhood and it is traditional to entertain guests manning the dashi from other neighborhoods with sake, served fresh from large barrels. The sake used in this town is from the local brewery and is served in square wooden containers with a touch of salt added. It must be a special kind of man to be able to handle the dashi from early morning and still stop for a drink of straight liquor at every stop, over and over again! I do not think I could do it myself. The hayashi teams have members of all ages, from kids to the elderly, and are always great fun to watch.

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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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Shinto Rituals at Kitazawa Hachimangu

Posted in Japanese Traditions, People, Places by tokyobling on October 5, 2014

One of the main draws of the annual grand Kitazawa Hachimangu festival in Tokyo’s Setagaya District is the beautiful shinto rituals and dances that are performed at the shrine’s Kagura stage. I took these photos of the performances at this year’s festival a few weeks ago. The children and young people who perform these rituals with such seriousness are really fantastic. I am already looking forward to next year’s festival!

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Walking Asakusa – Pet Pig

Posted in Animals, People, Places by tokyobling on August 26, 2014

Tokyo is one of the most crowded capitals on Earth but in the middle of it all there is still opportunities to see a little bit of non-human nature. A while ago I was walking through Tokyo’s famous Asakusa district and saw these pets taking their owners for a walk through the city. Cats are commonplace, both in trams and roaming the streets on their own, seeing a pig though, was the first for me! A few foreign tourists tried to communicate with the pig but he was incredibly focused on the food his owner was enjoying.

Apart from pets there is a surprising amount of wildlife in the city. Even in the most central parts we have Palm Civets, Raccoons and cats. In the outskirts we have foxes, rabbits, kites and eagles and still within city limits but in the most remote areas we have bears, badgers and boars!

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