Tokyobling's Blog

Yoshiwara Gionsai – Shizuoka Prefecture

Posted in Japanese Traditions, People, Places by tokyobling on June 15, 2015

I spent yesterday in Fuji City, in Shizuoka Prefecture which is two prefectures over west from Tokyo, visiting the lovely and colorful Yoshiwara Gionsai, famous for its many dashi (mobile festival platforms). The festival was as great as ever, despite the tiny bit of rain that fell at the end of the festival. You would be excused for not believing that we were actually in the middle of the rain period here in Japan, but so far there has not been very much of it.

The main attraction of the Yoshiwara Gion Festival is the main street in Yoshiwara Honcho, where the different dashi are pulled up and down the streets by the members of the neighborhood they represent. The dashi are manned by kids and adults who play the more or less traditional music of these festival. When I say more or less I mean that Shizuoka is famous for being slightly more innovative in the music and rhythm sections of their festivals and the kids have quite a bit of freedom in deciding how they are going to perform. Most opt for the traditional way but there are a few far away influences to some of teams drumming or dancing!

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Kanda Matsuri Beauties

Posted in Japanese Traditions, People, Places by tokyobling on June 10, 2015

Last months Kanda Matsuri was more spectacular than ever – it was the 400th anniversary of the Shrine’s founding, and the parades were longer and more varied than usual. On the first of the big parade days, the Shinkosai, I spotted these beauties, temple maidens. The girls are wearing the Ichimegaza, 市女笠, costumes.

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Ometaisai Dashi at Night

Posted in Japanese Traditions, People, Places by tokyobling on June 5, 2015

Dashi, the huge mobile festival platforms pulled around the neighborhood at matsuri time is great fun both to watch and to photograph. Here is the main dashi of the grand Ometaisai that took place last month the Western Tokyo city of Ome.

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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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