Tokyobling's Blog

Sannou Matsuri – Hie Shrine

Posted in Japanese Traditions, People, Places by tokyobling on June 9, 2012

Tokyo has three major religious festivals dating from the Edo period, one of them is the famous Sannou Matsuri taking place at the two Hie Shrines in Chiyoda ward, at the very heart of Tokyo. The main event is the three day procession, where about a hundred or so participants, including horses, a tree, and religious statues and shrines are carried, pulled or walked around some of the most famous areas of Tokyo: Yotsuya, Ichigaya, Kudanshita, Nihonbashi, Ginza, Kyobashi, Shimbashi, Yurakucho, Nagatacho. During these three days, the procession covers miles and miles of ground from morning to about 1700, and it is taking place right now as I write this, so if you are free I recommend heading to downtown Tokyo right now or tomorrow during the day to check out the grand procession! There’s a map with major points, the route and estimated times at this link (it’s a large PDF).

I went to see this procession as they neared the end of the route on the first day, it was the first day we have had so far with summer like levels of humidity and heat so I was drenched in sweat and pretty exhausted after just a few minutes of following the procession, I can only imagine how tired they must have been from walking constantly from 7:45, not resting more than a few minutes here and there, in costume and with all their gear, so have patience with the tired faces in these photos! And speaking about faces, in these processions participants are not allowed to wear make-up, so it’s a good chance to see normal Japanese women without cosmetics! To me at least, they look lovely. The white horse is especially holy in Japan, technically I guess it is a pony but it is still pretty inspiring. In these processions the white horse is never ridden, only led. Enjoy, more photos to follow!


Typhoon No. 15 and Tokyo Transport

Posted in Places by tokyobling on September 21, 2011

Just got home from some very interesting weather! Remember my typhoon post earlier this month? That was typhoon no. 12, and right now we were just passed by typhoon number 15 which is currently traveling just north of Tokyo towards Fukushima prefecture and the north-east. In all my years in Tokyo I have never experienced a typhoon that managed to bring both the trains and the subways to a halt, but this one did just that. I got as far as Nagatacho station (home station for many of Japans government and ministerial workers) on the Yurakucho line before we were told that we couldn’t go any further. A couple of crafty old men next to me ran out and asked a subway worker which lines are still running, but as I got up from the platform I ran into a group of people studying the traffic information screen. Red flashing lights mean that the line is stopped, orange that there’s some sort of trouble. One by one the lines went from orange to red until only the Marunouchi line was still creeping along. It took me two hours and involved a considerable walk before I made it back home.

As you can see in the pictures, most people seemed relaxed and resigned to waiting for a few hours in the subway. The majority of people working in central Tokyo doesn’t actually live in the city and for them walking home simply wasn’t an option. Luckily the trains stopping also meant that the kiosk staff could keep open longer and I stocked up on chocolate and juice for the long walk home!

As for the rest of Japan, last night the count was up at 1.25 million people getting their marching orders, to head for higher ground or take shelter in one of the many evacuation centers made ready all over western Japan. Tokyo and the Kanto area was luckier, we usually are, but we’re still waiting to hear reports from the Tohoku region as the typhoon moves along north-east. アAs of writing, five persons have lost their lives and four people are missing, but these numbers will probably rise.

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