Japanese Festivals

POSTED BY DANNY CHOO On Tue 2008/09/16 16:33 JST in Japan
As the Summer draws to an end, many festivals known as "matsuri" are held all over Japan. Today we spend a few days having a look at the festivities around my neighborhood.
This first pic is taken right outside my house - the local children dress in a traditional Japanese garment called a Happi and carry whats known as an "Omikoshi" which is described in the Japanese Wikipedia entry as being a vessel for spirits or the gods.
At night, many shrines spawn a load of hawker stalls. This one is serving up some Ika Yaki which is fried squid - 200 yen per serving.
This stall is selling something called "Chin Chin Yaki" - its like some sort of cake. "Chin Chin" is actually a Japanese term for "dolphin" which is why there were quite a few girls giggling as they walked pass.
Fancy a while fish on a stick? These fishes have been speared on a chop stick and burnt. Many people eat them whole including the head, intestines and tail. I could only manage the tail ^^;
Many sweets are available for the kids too.
Banana dipped in chocolate - 300 yen each.
There are many games to be played at matsuri too. Here you see a tub of water. Children need to use a scoop to see how many of the floating balls they can collect from the tub.
We usually visit a different shrine every year. This year we went to one in Himonya. The Shrine was filled with families and young folks. Many fellow gaijin too.
Here is another game - a tub of water filled with painted balloons that are also filled with water. The water swirls around as children try to nab one.
As you have probably guessed by now - water games are popular at matsuri. This game is called Kingyo Sukui . A player uses a rim of plastic covered by thin paper to scoop out goldfish from the tank. The paper eventually breaks from being soaked in water for too long.
Here were a bunch of folks carving out some stuff from stuff - wasn't paying too much attention ^^;
"Roll a rock and get it in the hole" game.
"Fool little children by making them think they can win a Wii and give them a pack of tissues instead" game.
What happens here is that players shoot elastic bands at targets to win stuff. There is always a Wii on display giving the impression that they can be won but what happens is that many of the targets are glued down to the table ^^;
When you go to a matsuri, make sure you go on an empty stomach and bring plenty of small change.
More of the "You see this Wii? Well you cant have it" game.
Apart from scooping out fish from a tank, there is "scoop a baby turtle" from a tank game too. Have you ever had a gold fish or a turtle as a child to play with? Not sure what it is about oriental folks but most of them seem to play with them when young ^^;
More "scoop as much as you can of the floating stuff from the tank O water" game.
A popular dish at matsuri is Jagga Butter - steamed potato with a dollop O butter n salt - 400 yen each.
If you like young cute Japanese girls dressed in traditional Japanese Yukata then matsuri is the place for you.
This snack is called "Castella Balls" - for those who like to much on soft warm balls.
Cosplay for the frugal.
in Japan its very easy for anybody to buy an airgun - so easy that they even sell them at matsuri. This night had many young lads just walking around with realistic looking firearms. Airguns easily available in your region too?
The lighting at Matsuri is usually quite poor so watch your step or you could fall with your hands wide open and grab somebodies soft n bouncy eyes - and you would not want that to happen would you?
Fried Octoballs also known as Tako Yaki - did you know Octopus had balls?
A mikoshi being carried in a shopping mall.
As the mikoshi is being carried, the men chant as they bob the vessel up and down.
There are many different chants which include "Washoi! Washoi!", "Essa! Essa!", "Soiya! Soiya!" which derives from different regions/dialects.
And as the mikoshi moves along, many folk follow it.
Some local children pulling along a drum on a cart.
And on top of the cart are more children beating the drum.
More children carrying the heavy mikoshi.
And then there are tiny mikoshi for the chibi's.
In some parts of the neighborhood, traditional dancing in the streets take place.
Some drummers beat a traditional Japanese drum called a taiko . If the characters on the left looked like squares then it means you don't have Japanese fonts installed. Folks who are learning Japanese may want to install Japanese language packs. I plan to be working with comrades at iKnow to teach you more related Japanese words after each article.
The dancing continues until about 10PM.
The mikoshi is carried around the neighborhood. Here you see folks taking a break from all the drum beating and mikoshi bobbing.
Have you been to a matsuri in Japan before? Are there summer festivities like matsuri in your region?