Tag Archives: matsuri

Dancing Center Stage

August Abandon Afoot

More midsummer fireworks lie loaded on the launchpad, if that’s your thing – Mizunami has their display tonight, as part of their 54th annual Mino Genji Tanabata Festival (a month after most other observances), featuring teams of dancers and taiko drummers on stage for the 16th year now. It takes place Friday through Sunday in front of Mizunami Station. Everyone is invited to hop into the frenzy of the parade. There’s also a “clay objêt” Toudo Festa competition, in which teams have a frenetic 48 hours to sculpt clay into whatever their imaginations can conjur up.

You could consider Mizunami’s Tanabata fest with its dancing a warmup for Nagoya’s 15th annual Nippon Domannaka Matsuri, or Domatsuri for short, to be held from August 23rd to 25th. Some 23,000 dancers on over 200 teams from all over Japan and the world will carouse and compete for championship original folk dance honors.

The only rules, according to the official website, are “each dancer must hold a naruko, or clapper, and … a melody from a local folk tune of the participants’ home area must be incorporated in the music.” As with Mizunami’s revelry, they encourage the audience to join in the dancing as a means of cross-cultural communication, and welcome last-minute entries without reservation, so to speak.

And as long as we’re on the subject of Nippon Domannaka (the very center of Japan), it’s not just figurative talk when people speak of our central location, or the logistical benefits of relocating the national capital to Gifu to help alleviate congestion in Tokyo.

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Here’s a picture of Yasaka Station, the centralmost station in Japan, on the Nagaragawa Railway Etsumi-Nan Line. The diesel-powered single-car line, which you can use to get from Mino Ota on the Taita Line to Gujo (station photo below), also stops at the centralmost hot spring in the country, accessible directly from Manthatsamouthful Minamikodakaraonsen Station (station and spa are under the same roof). Of course the all-night trance-like dances at Gujo are for many a must-see, gotta-groove to thing this time of year as well…

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…as is, for those who can bear to watch, the bridge-jumping, river-plunging tradition on the river you may be able to view from this walkway. I think they jump from the bridge just a few steps to the left of where I took this photo.

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Korankei Leaves the Best for Last

After years of only hearing about Korankei Gorge Momiji Matsuri in Asuke Town in Toyota City, I finally had a chance to see the fall fest for myself.

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As you approach the illuminated hill, it looks as if it’s lit from the inside, like a glowing jack-o-lantern.

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The smell of carnival food grilling, steaming, drizzling and frying away fills the air as couples stroll past the stalls and stands whose lighting emits an inviting warmth in the cold night. Some stalls are permanent, while others are only there for the festival. Above, the moon rises above the proceedings.

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From the iconic red bridge, you can see the sprawling, rounded, water-worn bedrock of the riverbed. It shows up pretty dark below.

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The river often affords picturesque reflections of the lit foliage, though not so this time. Dark of night notwithstanding, many people were actually roaming the riverbed – some girls were even frolicking barefoot in the icy water with nary a care.

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Tiny leaves carpet and dress the topography of concave and convex slopes.

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The obligatory oriental roof inclusion shot.

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Looking up one of the bigger trees.

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Another wide shot. There are plenty of spots along the network of winding paths to take out your camera. At the base are many more food stands to look forward to after descending. Among other things, there was a generous-sized, savory-sauced goheimochi. It looked like it could do double duty as a handball racket or such.

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Nestled in this sacred corner was a ritual cleansing pool and ladle.

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A scrolling view with the moonrise to the left.

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Lighting It Up

There was a little stall-type festival along Nagase dori today, apparently marking Gion, the beckoning of departed souls of loved ones and ancestors back to their earthly homes. People will light small mukaebi fires outside their front doors Friday night to show the spirits the way.

Despite working in beautiful more-or-less downtown Tajimi for over four years, I’d missed this one until now. Maybe it always comes on a weekday? Or perhaps being limited to Nagase dori was the issue. Anyway, good times.

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The majority of revellers were young people – junior high or elementary school kids, some in yukata, enjoying themselves and the bustling atmosphere. Red paper lanterns with bamboo fronds lit the way.

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Later, some folks lit up small fireworks on the banks of the Toki River.