At the Tomioka Hachimangu a couple of weeks ago I saw this performance of Indonesian gamelan music performed by a mixed troupe of dancers and musicians at the shrine itself. I had never seen it before and the fascinating music and movements were fantastic. Sometimes even traditional Japanese festivals show you things from completely different cultures. The performance was a huge hit with the audience. I overheard lots of people comparing it to the performances they had seen when visiting the island of Bali which in the last few years has become a very popular travel destination for Japanese tourists.
A couple of weekends ago saw the grand Hachioji Matsuri, one of the bigger city festivals in the Kanto region and in my opinion, one of the most accessible. Hachioji is a city in western Tokyo, with a population of over half a million people it is the 8th largest in Tokyo. I didn’t think I would be able to make it to this year’s festival but I found some free time and made it out there. Hachioji Matsuri has everything, music, people, dashi (large festival wagons), omikoshi, parades, dancers and of course, the stands of hayashi groups performing throughout the city, like this one. Lion dancers and a lone demon dancers entertained the public and played traditional hayashi style music of percussion and flutes. The dancer looked quite well dresses, it must have been exhausting in the near 35 degree heat!
The grand Hachioji Matsuri, the annual festival of the city in western Tokyo, started on Friday and culminates today! The Hachioji Matsuri is one of those have-it-all festivals. The entire city is out to party and there are things to do for everyone, no matter wether you enjoy drinking, eating, culture, traditions or just hanging out with the crowds. This festival has geisha, omikoshi, hayashi, dashi, parades and music and just about anything else you can imagine from a big Japanese summer festival.
I took these photos of some of the dashi and omikoshi, portable shrines, on the 2013 festival. I wish I could go this year as well but wishes and schedules do not always go hand in hand! If you are in Tokyo today without any real plans, here is your chance to jump on the Chuo line and get yourself to Hachioji!
Last night saw the start of the fantastic Kagurazaka Awaodori Festival, the third day in four day Kagurazaka Matsuri. The last day is tonight with the kid’s teams performing from 1800 to 1900 and then the adult’s teams from 1900 to 2100. You can get to Kagurazaka from either Iidabashi station, Ushigome Kagurazaka or Kagurazaka stations. The further up you go on the street the fewer people you are likely to have to fight for a good spot with, so if it seems to crowded down hill just keep walking to the second area of the festival!
Last night I took these photos of the always fantastic Tenguren and their little Kotenguren kids. I can’t get enough of this team! Even though Awaodori dance is traditionally from Tokushima Prefecture there are dozens of great teams here in Tokyo!