There are so many festivals taking place in Tokyo this weekend I do not have time to spend on photo editing and blogging! So here are some of my personal favorites from this year’s Hachioji Matsuri, just a few weeks ago. A performer at one of the many dashi (mobile festival stages) are doing his best to entertain near the end of a long three day festival. I love how some of the kids love challenging themselves and get close to the scary performers in masks while some keep their distance.
If you are in Tokyo tonight there are any number of festivals to pick from, not least the one in Shibuya and the one in Akasaka! Have a great long weekend!
At this year’s grand Hachioji Matsuri I saw these three dragon head’s dancers (龍頭の舞), performing a 400 year old ritual dance with drums, flutes and great wooden masks. The dance itself is quite acrobatic, with great leaps and spins. There are very few performers of this dance left in Japan, but the traditions and the equipment is kept in shape by a few groups of dedicated performers. The three masks used by these performers were made by local craftsmen in 1712, making them the oldest masks in continued use by dancers anywhere in the country. They are decorated with horse manes and long bird feathers (which I learned was about 2000 a piece to buy new and wore out quite quickly).
It was a very hot day and it must have been quite exhausting to have so many performances outside in just one day.
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!