We’ve had the chance to catch up with a couple of a festivals while in Tokyo and Sapporo.

The first was the 11th Hagoromo Nebuta Festival. To get here we caught a JR train (during peak time!!) and went for a 40 minute trip into the suburbs to the community of Hagoromocho, Tachikawa City. Of course when we got off we walked in the wrong direction. Lucky for us the street seller of Tako Yaki spoke good English and pointed us in the right direction.

According to Wikipedia “Nebuta refers to the float of a brave warrior-figure which is carried through the center of the city, while dancers wearing a unique type of costume called haneto prance around in time with the chant Rasser?. In the local dialect, participation in the festival is inquired using the adjective haneru (“Are you going to haneru today?”), which was derived from the Japanese spelling of the haneto costume and the adjective haneru (“bounce”).”

Well in my opinion that pretty much describes what goes on. This one is in Greater Tokyo apparently the bigger one is in Aomori.

The locals were very keen to share their street food, which I have to say was pretty good. The event is also popular with photographers with quite a lot of equipment there. I’ve include a slideshow of some photos I took. Press the play button to get them going.

The second festival we visited, this time in Sapporo was the Hokkai Bon Odori. There were plenty of participants in yukata an kimono.

According to Wikipedia Bon Odori “originates from the story of Mokuren, a disciple of the Buddha, who used his supernatural powers to look upon his deceased mother. He discovered she had fallen into the Realm of Hungry Ghosts and was suffering.Greatly disturbed, he went to the Buddha and asked how he could release his mother from this realm. Buddha instructed him to make offerings to the many Buddhist monks who had just completed their summer retreat, on the fifteenth day of the seventh month. The disciple did this and, thus, saw his mother’s release. He also began to see the true nature of her past unselfishness and the many sacrifices that she had made for him. The disciple, happy because of his mother’s release and grateful for his mother’s kindness, danced with joy. From this dance of joy comes Bon Odori or “Bon Dance”, a time in which ancestors and their sacrifices are remembered and appreciated.”

These days the Sapporo Bon Odori is run by the local broadcast company, since 1953. That could explain the tv looking personalties , the yellow stuffed toy like blob that was handing out goody bags to the kids.

I’ve also done a slideshow for this festival. Don’t forget to press play.

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