Tokyobling's Blog

All Women’s Omikoshi – Mitama Matsuri

Posted in Japanese Traditions, People, Places by tokyobling on September 13, 2013

After yesterday’s post I think it is only fair that I give women a chance to shine as well! Here is students from the Otsuma Women’s University (大妻女子大学) doing a great job with an omikoshi (a portable shrine used in shinto religious festivals all over Japan) at the massive Yasukuni shrine, the Mitama festival. I think that for most of these young women is must be the first time they actually take part in a festival like this. I hope they enjoyed it as much as their cheering audience, and join their own local neighborhood festival teams. The Otsuma Women’s University is one of the most famous women’s universities in Japan and their students usually do quite well in their professional life after graduation. It’s good to see that they are broadening their eduction to include more physical Japanese traditions. I was luck to be near their omikoshi when it arrived at the heart of the shrine, so I don’t know how far they had carried it, but any length of time must be very hard in the heat of Tokyo summer evening.

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Mitama Matsuri – Yasukuni Shrine Lanterns

Posted in Japanese Traditions, People, Places by tokyobling on August 29, 2013

We are in the middle of festival season here in Japan and the warm dark summer nights are just perfect for them! And few festivals can beat the massive Mitama Matsuri held every year over several days in July, at Tokyo’s Yasukuni shrine. I took these snaps from an area of smaller lanterns inside the shrine’s precinct. A lot of people took the opportunity to snap photos of themselves – and a lot of people were wearing fabulous traditional Japanese summer yukata, both men and women. I also found a very cute ema by young Yutaro, whose most fervent wish was to meet the Kamen Rider Wizards – characters from a popular kid’s TV series of super heroes. I guess his mother helped him with the writing though as I assume he was only five!

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Mitama Matsuri – Honoring Lost Souls

Posted in Japanese Traditions, People, Places by tokyobling on July 16, 2013

I hope you are not getting bored with the Mitama festival photos! I was there today as well and took these photos. It was incredibly crowded, the worst yet, but still lots of fun and much easier to walk now that the ground had dried up from yesterday’s afternoon squalls. I took a lot of snaps of people, just because I find that there is no other festival in Japan with this variety of visitors, young and old from all walks of life. The first photo is a mix of nine photos, all of which looked fun together but none worth posting on itself. Still, this was the only way I could make sense of the vast sea of people as I entered the festival grounds.

The thing that makes mitama matsuri most famous are the lanterns, the big ones go for 12 000 yen and the small ones for 3000 yen, and just as last year the top sponsor was Mr Sato who on his own must have spent a few million yen on making sure the festival keeps going strong! I don’t think I’ll ever be able to match him, but I might spring for a small lantern next year, a Tokyobling lantern in the shrine grounds! That would be blogworthy. Officially the lanterns are there to honor the lost souls of the old wars, but there is nothing sad or gloomy about this festival!

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Mitama Matsuri People – Yasukuni Shrine

Posted in Japanese Traditions, People, Places by tokyobling on July 14, 2013

This year’s opening of the massive Mitama Matsuri at Yasukuni Shrine must have broken some sort of record, if not in the number of people then at least in the temperature! It was absolutely boiling away as what must have been several hundreds of thousands of people gathered to enjoy one of Tokyo’s best and largest festivals. The festival started last night at six and goes on until Tuesday night, with events, music, marching bands, choirs, awaodori, obon dancing, monkey shows, traditional Japanese dance, poetry, art, omikoshi, etc. It’s like a mini Olympics in Japanese culture! It’s also a festival were a very large percentage of visitors turn out in Japanese traditional clothing, both foreigners and Japanese. How about these cute kids or the yukata beauties? But I think this superbly handsome dad took the gold medal in his simple retro yukata and hat!

Mitama Matsuri is famous for its many yellow lanterns – if you are in Tokyo over the long weekend, this is something you don’t want to miss!

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