Japanese Matsuri!

9 04 2009

If you’ve been following my blog since a little while ago, you’d know there’s a weird shrine near where I live.  Last saturday, apparently there was a festival there, though no one that I’ve asked up to this point remembers why or how this festival started.  The best guess that anyone had was that the festival was there for celebrating the blooming sakura.  In any case, this was a fairly small festival (so it’s nothing like you see in anime), but hopefully it is still interesting to you guys!

Matsuri!

Matsuri!

The Japanese matsuri always involves several hundred members of the community pulling a decorated float, where several important memebers of the community sit, to the nearest shrine.  The start point is usually quite far away from the shrine that the float is meant to end up at, and so it is not unusual that this portion of the festival lasts the majority of the day.

The pullers themselves are divided into several groups indicated by the color of their uniform.  You can also see people are wearing the blue jackets with the red writing on their backs, those are the coordinators who make sure everyone is on the same page when it comes to when to pull and when to stop.  Theese people shout SEI!!! NO!!! to keep everyone pulling at the same time too!

Noise Makers - They're reallly the Japanese equivalent of a marching band but... their music sounds more like noise, soz.

Noise Makers - They're reallly the Japanese equivalent of a marching band but... their music sounds more like noise, soz.

This mini float is pulled along with the noise making group, which follows closely behind the main float.  They mainly use flutes, but the music they were making just sounded like random garbled mess, sorry.  Nonetheless, these people seem popular, as the crowd cheers when they show up.

Pink Team - aka the steering team

Pink Team - aka the steering team

These guys dressed in pink bunch up at the back of the float.  The float doesn’t come with turnable front wheels, so the job for these guys is to shout SEI NO!! lift the float up together, reorientate the float in the right direction, and let it down without gettin the people sitting up on top too pissed :P.  They also help push when the terrain gets rough.

Everyone in the community participates, even little children!

Everyone in the community participates, even little children!

Who says Japan is short on little kids! There were approximately 100 kids attending this festival.  They travel at the front of the groups that are pulling, so they fulfill a sort of symbollic role without being in danger of getting crushed by adults who are actually pulling as hard as they can.

Songs and Celebration

Songs and Celebration

Approximately every 20-30 minutes, the float stops and is turned 90 degrees.  Then all the pullers gather around in a circle and perform some sort of ritual dance where they sing and take turns running into the middle of the circle and bump into each other.  Then they fall over and laugh…  I haven’t figured out why they do this lol.

Old men carrying thousands of dollars worth of camera equipment each

Old men carrying thousands of dollars worth of camera equipment each

For the old men who can’t participate, they get to fulfill the glamarous job of documentation.  For some reason, old men in Japan tend to carry multiple DSLRs on them at a given time.  The old man in the forground of my picture has the DSLR he is holding onto, which is a D80, a cheaper D60, and a telescoping lens as well.  From those 3 things that I could see, that alone was over $1500 USD of camera equipment.  He also has that tripod off to the side that’s another $50 dollars.  I guess if you don’t know your cameras, you’d never guess he was holding a small fortune on him.

And the trip ends....

And the trip ends....

Homestretch!  The float rolls home to the shrine and people get ready for the festivities that follow!  Aka lunch :P.  Except the line is hell….

O GOD THE LINE IS LONG

O GOD THE LINE IS LONG

Picnic!

Picnic!

Unfortunately, this festival didn’t have the usual anime fair of game booths, snacks, prize booths and what not…  It did have the atmosphere though.  I still want to go to one of those, time to continue my search!  I also apologize for the poor pictures.  The weather just never lets up, it’s always either raining or overcast :(.  The material doesn’t seem as grand as what I usually report, but I thought it was interesting because it happened so close to where I live.

Anyway, until next time!

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6 responses

10 04 2009
robostrike

Great festival you had there, it’s like those episodes in Lucky Star when Konata and friends hang out during the shrine maiden festival.
Good to see the elderly use their money towards their interest of photography.
May be you need to travel a bit further to get to the nearest anime festivals around town. Just a thought ^_^

10 04 2009
Yuki Phnx

wow, it sounds like a lot of fun! so nice to see the community get together like that

10 04 2009
guorbatschow

if they can afford tripods, so can you!

:>

10 04 2009
bluemage

“O GOD THE LINE IS LONG”

But not nearly as long as people trying to get into big Anime conventions in Japan like Comiket, right? 😉 Still that statement made me lol hard.

A nice small festival. Looks fun.

12 04 2009
aaroninjapan09

robostrike: I’m in the process of finding a lucky star festival. I need to at least try and catch those goldfish with a paper net :P.

Yuki Phnx: I was really touched to see all the kids actually get together and enjoy their own cultural festival. You don’t see that in Canada at all.

Guorbatschow: 😛 I’ll buy a tripod if you give me some of the insanely lucrative ad based scanlating business you have running over there! Just kidding.

Bluemage: Haha.. anime convention lines… ugh.. I don’t even want to remember what the Tokyo Anime Fair line was like. I just laugh when I think the population of the line is equivalent to the population of a small city, like Waterloo.

18 04 2009
meronpan

i also noticed old folk carrying around hella nice cameras during my trip. i was at the entrance to the daibutsu in kamakura and spotted this woman who could easily have been my grandmother… she was setting up her awesome dslr on a tripod to take some shots!!! in contrast, my actual grandmother put her finger on my camera lens when i was showing her a picture i took -__-

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