Ome Taisai Festival

Video link: http://youtu.be/rSWwkn6TkLg

Ome Taisai is a float festival held annually on May 2 and 3 in Ome, Tokyo, Japan. Twelve ornate wooden floats are pulled along the main street near JR Ome Station (about 1 hour train ride from Shinjuku Station). Each float has festival musicians and a comical dancer. This video shows all 12 floats and 9 performance stages. Shot on May 3, 2014, the main festival day. About 150,000 people come to see Ome’s largest festival. The float festival has been held since 1872.

Since Tokyo has mostly mikoshi portable shrine festivals, I really enjoyed this float festival as a change of pace. Ome Taisai is held by Sumiyoshi Shrine in Ome, the city’s main guardian shrine. Ome is a former post town along the Ome Kaido Road going from Shinjuku, Tokyo to Kofu, Yamanashi Prefecture.

On May 2, each float is paraded around their own neighborhood. The main day is May 3 when all the floats are pulled along the Kyu-Ome Kaido main road parallel to Ome Station from 9 am to 7:30 pm. The floats are pulled by parishioners led by kids dressed as tekomai guardians. The floats also stop and perform together on the street. In the late afternoon, 6 or 7 floats gather to perform together. The street also has nine stationary platforms where more musicians and dancers perform.

Ome Taisai is a festival of Sumiyoshi Shrine established in 1369. In 1513, parishioners from five neighborhoods (Sumie-cho, Honcho, Nakacho, Kamicho, and Morishita-cho 住江町、本町、仲町、上町、森下町) held a spring festival to celebrate their renovation of the shrine’s Haiden hall. This was the beginning of the Ome Taisai. In 1872, the five neighborhoods started to pull ornate floats during the festival. After World War II, seven more floats representing other neighborhoods joined the festival. Most of the current floats were built relatively recently.

The five original floats were much taller with three tiers topped with a life-size doll. Overhead power lines installed in 1911 forced the floats to downsize and remove the mannequins. Those five dolls are instead displayed in their respective neighborhoods during the festival.

Ome Taisai Floats
Amagase-cho 天ヶ瀬町
Hinatawada 日向和田
*Honcho 本町
*Kamicho 上町
Katsunuma-cho 勝沼町
*Morishita-cho 森下町
Nishiwake-cho 西分町
*Nakacho 仲町
Oyana-cho 大柳町
*Sumie-cho (Miyamoto) 住江町
Takinoue-cho 滝ノ上町
Urajuku-cho 裏宿町
*Festival founding floats.

White Heron Dance in Asakusa 2014

Video link: http://youtu.be/-_DqsWhH-aM
The White Heron Dance (Shirasagi-no-Mai) was very elegant in front of Sensoji temple in Asakusa, Tokyo on April 13, 2014. I caught them walking through Nakamise leading to Sensoji temple. This video shows the entire dance in front of the temple performed at 3:30 pm. I also saw them perform on the roof of Matsuya Dept. Store in Asakusa at 2:30 pm. The Shirasagi-no-Mai White Heron Dance is held in Asakusa on the second Sunday of April, mid-May for the Sanja Matsuri, and on Nov. 3.

The dance originated at Yasaka Shrine in Kyoto about 1,000 years ago to ward off epidemics and pray for good harvests. The local Asakusa tourist association resurrected the dance in 1968. A picture scroll showed that it was performed in 1652 at Sensoji temple.

More photos here.

Cherry blossoms in Tokyo 2014

Cherry blossoms at the Imperial Palace’s Chidorigafuchi moat was superb.

chidorigafuchi

chidorigafuchi

chidorigafuchi

Also, for the first time, they allowed the public to enter the Imperial Palace to view cherry blossoms along a short path called Inui-dori during April 4-8, 2014. An insane number of people showed up. On the first day April 4, 2014, over 55,000 people came to see the Inui-dori sakura. Although it was open until 3 pm, they closed it by 1:30 pm due to the huge crowds.

Visitors went through a body search at the Imperial Palace.

inui

I couldn’t get in when I arrived at 2 pm. Too late. People waited for 2-3 hours to get in.

Click on the images above to see more images.

 

Final plum blossoms in Ome

Yoshino Baigo

Yoshino Baigo Plum Blossom Garden, Ome, Tokyo

Very sad to hear that all the plum trees in Ome, Tokyo’s Yoshino Baigo will be cut down in an attempt to stop the spread of the plum pox virus. The virus has infected the trees since 2009. They’ve been cutting down the infected trees and surrounding trees every year since then. However, even after destroying hundreds of plum trees, the virus has not been eradicated. After this year’s plum blossom festival ends on March 31, 2014, they will cut down all the trees.

We won’t see another plum blossom festival in Ome for at least several years until they replant. Now is the time to see it if you can. More photos here.

Tokyo Marathon 2014

Tokyo Marathon was held on Feb. 23, 2014. Here’s a collection of the most outstanding and incredulous costumes. I was near Suitengu Station which was about 10 km from the finish line.

Monkey head

Monkey head

This guy was running with his bride with heart-shaped balloons.

This guy was running with his bride with heart-shaped balloons.

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Japan mailbox. Painted on his face is the symbol of the Japan post office: 〒

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Jesus Christ, barefoot!

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Well coordinated.

From another planet.

From another planet.

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Carrying a surfboard while wearing rubber slippers.

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The biggest costume I saw. Couldn’t get a clear shot though.

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Very popular mascot named Funasshi, from Funabashi, Chiba.

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Ouch!

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Santa Claus with a big bag of presents.

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Geta clogs matching his monk costume.

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Kabuki

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Cross dressers galore

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Tuba player

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Monja

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Yep, these costumes can get hot.

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Golden frog. The note from his mouth says, “Feed me” (as in money).

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Man named Joseph. He’s got a small camera on his head as well as a smartphone rigged in front of him.

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At the end, a few buses carried runners who had to give up. The buses were quite empty though. The 36,000 runners had 7 hours to complete the marathon. Some 96% finished it.

Japan’s largest lake

Video link: http://youtu.be/WKvSP9zmnb8

If you like lakes (especially very old ones), fish, plankton, endemic species, or fermented fish, this video is for you. It’s quite long at 1 hr. 6 min., but you can pause/resume at anytime. Or just watch the first 5 min. and then decide whether to watch it to till the end. Within 5 min., you’ll know if you want to continue watching it or not. It’s pretty educational.

Tokyo Motor Show 2013

The 43rd Tokyo Motor Show was held at Tokyo Big Sight during Nov. 23-Dec. 1, 2013. No American car makers were there. No Lamborghini, Rolls Royce, Ferrari either.

Tokyo Motor Show 2013

Bridgestone airless tires

Old bus

Commercial vehicles also exhibited.

 

Convenient for old and handicapped people.

Honda

 

Old Formula 1

 

A sit-down Segway-type vehicle from Honda.

 

More my speed. Go-karts

Display of license plates.

More Tokyo Motor Show 2013 photos here.

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