Asakusa geisha gave free performances for tourists at the Asakusa Culture Tourist Information Center on Saturdays from mid-Oct. to late Nov. 2015. The show I saw in this video featured 92-year-old Yuko, Tokyo’s oldest geisha still going strong. Two shows on each Saturday at 1 pm and 2:30 pm. Free tickets are distributed on the day of the performance in the lobby of the Asakusa Culture Tourist Information Center from 10 am. They perform in spring and autumn.
Sawara no Taisai Autumn Festival (佐原の大祭秋祭り) is a festival of ornate floats paraded around Sawara (Katori), Chiba Prefecture, Japan on Oct. 10, 2015. Floats (called dashi) are about 7 meters high and weigh 3 to 4 tons. They have intricate wood carvings and a large doll depicting a historical or legendary Japanese figure. Each float is from a neighborhood in Sawara. Most of the floats and dolls were made in the late 19th century or early 20th century.
Dating back 300 years, the festival is held for three days in July (10 floats) and Oct. (14 floats). This year, they did not follow a set parade route. The float pullers also dance and the main highlight is when they turn the float a few times. The festival is a National Important Intangible Folk Cultural Property. Held near JR Sawara Station (JR Narita Line) and along Ono River’s traditional townscape.
Sawara is noted for its traditional townscape along the river so it’s worth visiting even without the festival.
Saw the magnificent Koenji Awa Odori dance festival on Sat. Aug. 29, 2015 from 5 pm to 8 pm in Koenji, Tokyo, Japan.
Koenji Awa Odori is a huge street dance festival held annually on the last weekend of Aug. near Koenji Station (JR Chuo Line) and Shin-Koenji Station (Marunouchi Line) in Suginami Ward, Tokyo, Japan.
About 5,000 performers in about 80 dance troupes called “ren” performed on Sat. and Sun. evenings from 5 pm to 8 pm. This video shows 40 troupes on Sat. evening. Most troupes are based in Tokyo including a good number from Koenji. A few are from Tokushima where Awa Odori originated.
Went to the Higashi Rinkan Awa Odori dance festival on Aug. 2, 2015 from 5:30 pm to 9 pm in Sagamihara, Kanagawa, Japan. The dance was held near Higashi Rinkan Station on the Odakyu Enoshima Line. It was excellent, but it was a hot/humid evening. Watched it at the Higashi Chuo Enbujo and Nishi Ekimae Embujo.
Dance troupes appearing in this video: Goraku-ren, Sukeroku-ren, Chidori-ren, Susono-ren, Hiyori-ren, Kyodo Murasaki-ren, Eboshi-ren, Odorikko-ren, Shonan Nagisa-ren, and Tokyo Tensui-ren.
The 39th Yamato Awa Odori dance festival was held on July 25-26, 2015 from 5 pm to 8:30 pm in Yamato, Kanagawa, Japan. I went to see it on July 25, very hot, humid day. This video shows the following dance troupes: Ioto-shima-chidori-ren, Azuma-ren, Chidori-ren, Sonjo-ren, Ukiyo-ren, Yokohama Nishiya-ren, Kensetsu-ren, Medaka-ren, Fuzuki-ren, and Shinbashi-ren.
Chidori-ren is based at the NAF Atsugi Base and I was impressed by a few American dancers. They were as good as the Japanese dancers.
The 37th Koganei Awa Odori dance festival was held on July 25-26, 2015 from 6 pm to 9 pm in Koganei, Tokyo, Japan. These two videos were taken on Juy 26, 2015. Part 1 shows the fast and dynamic performances of 9 troupes: Rhythm-ren, Koganei City Hall, Odorikko-ren, Fuyo-ren, Kouta-ren, Aoi Shin-ren, Musashi Minami-ren, Sakura-ren, and Rissho Koseikai.
Part 1に登場する連：りずむ連、小金井市役所連 、舞龍連（おどりっこ）、風踊連 、こうた連 、葵新連 、むさし南連 、さくら 連 、立正佼成会 （小金井街道北口にて）
Part 2 shows: Sakura-ren, Aoi Shin-ren, Seibu Kodomo-kai-ren, Niho-ren, Edo-no-Awa Hotaru, Oyako Taiken-ren, Kurenai-ren, Takiyama Chuo Maimai-ren, Enma-ren, Shinbi-ren, Kouta-ren, Kocho-ren, Maesawa Komachi-ren, Awa Odori-ren Tamaki, and Hachamecha-ren.
Here’s my video of Otsu Matsuri filmed last year on Oct. 12-13, 2013. Finally got it done and in time for this year’s festival on Oct. 11-12, 2014. It’s about 28 min. The video spotlights the karakuri mechanical puppets. I also got on-camera comments from foreign participants.
Otsu Matsuri is an annual festival of thirteen ornate floats (called hikiyama) held in Otsu, Shiga Prefecture during the weekend before the second Monday of October. It is a festival of in Otsu.
The floats were built in 17th and 18th centuries. Each one belongs to a different neighborhood in central Otsu. The floats are wooden, about 6 to 7 meters tall, and has three large wooden wheels instead of four (like Kyoto’s Gion Matsuri floats. They are gorgeously outfitted with intricate wood carvings, tapestries (from China, Korea, and even Belgium), paintings, and other art work. Art museums on wheels.
Due to the threat of mosquitoes carrying dengue fever from August 2014, Yoyogi Park has been closed to the public since September 4, 2014. Here are a few photos of along the fringe of Yoyogi Park on the weekend of September 20-21, 2014.
We just have to wait until colder weather for the mosquitoes to die. The birds, bugs, trees, etc., in the park must be happy to be left alone with no humans.
Yoyogi Park’s main gate is closed.
Even the perimeter of Yoyogi Park has been fenced off so we don’t walk too close.
A security guard patrols the fringe of Yoyogi park. People walk past didn’t seem to be too concerned though. Although I did see one young lady spraying repellant on her miniskirt legs while walking.
This side gate is closed with mosquito warning signs.
Brand new Ofune-hoko. Click image to see more photos.
Meet Gion Matsuri’s brand new boat float, the Ofune-hoko (大船鉾). It made its debut in the Gion Matsuri procession for the first time on July 24, 2014, a week after the first and main procession on July 17.
The Gion Matsuri now holds two yama-hoko float processions. The first one on July 17 (Saki Matsuri) is still the larger one with 23 floats. The Ato Matsuri on July 24 has 10 floats including the brand new Ofune-hoko boat float which appears last in the Ato Matsuri procession.
The Gion Matsuri being designated as a UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage in 2009 was also very encouraging. The new boat float was estimated to cost ¥120 million. In Oct. 2011, the float’s wooden framework was completed at a cost of ¥30 million yen. The wheels cost another ¥30 million, roof ¥20 million, and ornaments and decorations ¥40 million.
Although the Ofune-hoko made its festival debut in July 2014, it is still not complete. It will take more years to finance and add more decorative items. They are still seeking donations (1,000 yen minimum). Website: ofunehoko.jp
Also watch my video of the Ofune-hoko in the Ato Matsuri followed by the Hanagasa Parade on July 24, 2014.
Menuma Shodenzan Kangiin Temple (妻沼聖天山) is Saitama Prefecture’s sole National Treasure building. It is a magnificent restoration of a 250-year-old building covered with intricate woodcarvings.
Menuma Shodenzan Kangiin temple was built during 1735 to 1760, taking 25 years. The woodcarvings all but lost their original color and splendor after 2.5 centuries under the weather. However, following an enthusiastic local campaign to restore the building’s artwork, the building was painstakingly restored. And what a magnificent job they did, taking seven years from 2003. Despite having modern sensing equipment, they sometimes still could not tell what the original paint color was for certain parts. A very time-consuming work.
But they were rewarded with the building designated as a National Treasure in May 2012. The restored building was opened for public viewing on June 1, 2011. Admission is 700 yen. Guided tours are conducted, but only in Japanese. You can freely walk around and view the building.
Monkeys hold up the building.
Menuma Shodenzan’s Kisomon Gate is unusual for its triple gables.
Menuma Shodenzan is about a 20-min. bus ride from JR Kumagaya Station. Go to Bus stop No. 6 near JR Kumagaya Station’s North exit.