Tuesday, October 11, 2011


Tetsu and I have been gallivanting about. Wow, since we got that GPS and a new car, hardly a weekend goes by that we don't GO somewhere! I sort of miss my quiet weekends quilting but I'm not complaining! (It also means that I am away from the computer from early morning so no blogging.)

So... here are some pictures of a festival we attended... Sorry, I don't know much about the festival (that doesn't sway Tetsu at all. We don't have to KNOW about the festival. Just go and enjoy!)

This is in the next city over and without knowing what we were looking for we parked the car and followed people into the center of town. As we got closer more and more stalls lined the streets.

Mostly food is sold... hot dogs, grilled squid, fried noodles, sweet bean paste buns, octopus balls, snow cones. A few stalls sold traditional festival odds and ends... water fill yo-yo balloons, plastic masks, goldfish that you catch with a paper scooper. Oops... Looks like the boy already has a hole in his paper scooper.

The highlight of the festival was the pulling of shrine floats through the streets. There were twenty of these heavy wooden floats (called dashi) that were gathered in a shrine yard before the music began.

From reading this poster I gathered that each district in the city has their own dashi, most of them hundreds of years old and preserved for annual festivals. The intricate carvings show the artists of the eras who also worked on the Nikko shrines and temples. Nikko wood carving is famous throughout Japan.

There was an interesting mixture of old and new at the festival. Little children dressed in festival wear, the elders of the district gathered and already quite exhilarated with celebration osake.

Girls were dressed colorfully in different costumes according to district and they later led their group pulling the dashi.

But then there was a lot of the new melting into the traditional. So many girls were really dolled up for the festival. Pouffy hairdos. Colorful hair extensions, hoopy earrings, silk flowers entwined in hairstyles, false eyelashes made of colorful feathers!

As evening approached the festival's hubbub increased and lights were lit. A few brave young men were chosen I suppose to ride on the tops of each dashi and keep their balance as they were jerked down the narrow streets.

Inside each dashi, musicians played pipes and flutes and drums and bells keeping rhythm to the forward motion and the sound crescendoed around the whole city. Supposedly the next night's festival doings were even more festive and noisy! A lot of fun!

Some people in Japan LIVE from one festival to the next, preparing costumes, practicing music, attending drinking meetings, distributing funds. Tetsu and I pop in for a little excitement and a lot of food.

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