This weekend sees several festivals take place all over Tokyo, not least the fairly massive Ikebukuro Matsuri. The main area of the festival is in the West exit area of the JR Ikebukuro Station, so it will be hard to miss it. Most of the actual parade ground will be closed to people not participating (those wearing a happi coat) but this means it is easy to find a good spot along the route and get a good look at the many omikohisi, lantern teams and even dancers or taiko drummers performing. After the main event is finished you can catch up with omikoshi and get a closer look here and there around the station. Not to be missed if you have some free time!
The big Shibuya festival has started, which means that most (all?) shrines in Shibuya will be pooling their resources and manpower to create one huge festival in the center of town. The main even is on the Sunday but there will be plenty of performances, omikoshi, traditional stage plays and music all over the Shibuya area starting… last week. If you are in town and want to see a little bit of a modern traditional festival, I recommend coming down to Shibuya!
A few weeks ago I visited the city of Mishima in eastern Shizuoka Prefecture to the west of Tokyo just to enjoy their big summer festival. It was a three day event full of performances and culture but this time I could only take part in the first two days of events. This festival too has as one of its main features the giant dash, huge festival platforms pulled about by towns people. In Mishima City most of the townspeople seems to take turns being on top of the floats, with lots of flutes and drums to try and outperform each other! It is great fun to watch and enthusiasm and energy is really heart warming. The dashi are also unusually decorated with masses of lanterns hanging up front, making it a bright and colorful festival.
If you are in the area or feel like getting out of Tokyo for a couple of days I can really recommend Mishima, with maybe a day tour to Numazu City nearby or even as far as Kakegawa City or Atami City. They are good even when there are no festivals!
This Saturday sees one of Tokyo’s three Grand Festivals, the Fukagawa Hachiman Matsuri, most famous for being a mizukakematsuri, a water throwing festival. This year looks like it will be massive with over 300 000 people attending. It is one of my favorite festivals a lot of fun to watch or participate in. I took these photos last year during one of the minor days. Each year 54 omikoshi representing the different neighborhoods participate and the parade is quite fun to watch, especially when the firefighters and locals open up with hoses, buckets and bottles of water! If you are a fan of festivals and in Tokyo this weekend, don’t miss this!