Here’s a few photos of kids that I saw at the fantastic Chichibu Night Festival in western Saitama prefecture north of Tokyo, December last year. I think the first photo would do nicely in my “handsome fathers with their kids” ongoing photos project! Maybe I should create a tag for those photos? I also loved how the two cool little men climbed the high wall – sometimes Japanese parents are refreshingly liberal with their kids, not to mention the little girl who took her father’s fan and started to direct the festival float from her spot high up! She was just too adorable not to share with the world! The future of Japan is looking bright! Read more posts about the Chichibu Night festival here!
One of the views and shots I always try to get in a festival is the “approach” of a festival team, a cart or a group. It just looks so magnificent when they come towards you, often on almost empty streets. I love how the festival takes the place of the ordinary running of the town, when even police cars and busses have to give way. It is rare in any modern society to see such scenes that are peaceful at the same time. Here’s one of the three teams that commandeered the town of Chichibu in the grand Night Festival in the beginning of this month. The festival carts, or dashi, are really magnificent and are pulled by the citizens themselves, even kids and teenagers pitch in to help out! The cart has entrances to the back and the front but these are usually used for ceremonial purposes, the men manning the cart from the roof enter through a trap door underneath the wagon. Most people who participate wear traditional festival coats with their names or the names of the group they belong to printed or embroidered. Many groups of friends take pride in wearing the best looking uniforms and especially young women take the chance to get their hair done in some really extravagant styles! The vast majority of festivals are supremely peaceful but in some rougher neighborhoods young men of different teams sometimes flex their muscles in front of rival teams. This festival in Saitama prefecture north of Tokyo though, is one of the best winter time festivals in Japan! You can see my other posts about this festival here.
At the Chichibu Night Festival, the Chichibuyo Matsuri (秩父夜祭) in Saitama prefecture just north of Tokyo I saw this wonderful little dancers perform on one of the giant dashi (festival carts). It’s the first time I see Japanese traditional dance where the performer is dressed like this. Even though it is a night festival, the day is full of performances and events. The little dancer was accompanied by a couple of shamisen players.
As a bonus, I leave you with the final picture, which contains a few words of wisdom regarding parenthood, a fitting theme I think. Maybe some of my native English speaking readers could have a go at translating it for us? My English would not do justice to the beautiful Japanese message. Enjoy the weekend everyone!
I didn’t get to the grand finale to the big Chichibu Night Festival that was last night, but here are more photos from the last part of the the warming up event. These huge festival carts are massively difficult to move and requires the combined strength of more than a dozen men just to steer it in the right direction. In order to turn it around you need even more people and some very clever levers, but I’ll post more photos of that later, taken during the day. Although it is called a night festival it starts in the day and goes on until nightfall, leaving plenty of time for visitors to get on the last trains back to Tokyo. The men in the gorgeous outfits are actually tied to the wagons, as they tilt quite heavily during operation and it would not be fun to fall of. I also expect they had quite a lot to drink in order to stand the zero degree weather. Just as the festival ended we actually saw some snow fall, unseasonably early in the winter for this part of Japan! More photos to come!