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Nicknamed Little Edo (Koedo), the castle town of Hikone holds the annual Little Edo Hikone Castle Festival Parade on Nov. 3 from 1 pm to 3 pm.Very elaborate costume parade of mainly kids dressed as samurai and Edo-Period ladies. Highlights include the Hikone Gun Battalion giving a matchlock gun demo (in front of Horse Stable), Ii Naosuke played by an actor on horseback, fireman acrobatics, and Sarugaku dancers. The parade route starts from Joto Elementary School and proceeds along the road to the castle and passes in front of the Umaya Horse Stable. Short walk from JR Hikone Station. Parade route map:
http://www.hikoneshi.com/jp/event/articles/c/parade

Photo: Statue of Lord Ii Naomasa in front of Hikone Station.
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The main highlight of the festival is the Hikone Castle Festival Parade held in the afternoon of Nov. 3 (national holiday called Culture Day).
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The parade has children and adults dressed in historical costumes, especially the red samurai armor which was the trademark of the Ii clan. Even a modern samurai needs a cell phone.
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Castle parade route to Hikone Castle.
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These photos were taken on Nov. 3, 2009.
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Start of the Hikone Castle Parade on Nov. 3. Boy Scouts help out by carrying signs.
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Military band
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Dream Ambassador from Takamatsu, Kagawa Pref.
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Miss Plum Blossom from Mito, Ibaraki Pref. Mito's connection with Hikone lies in the radical samurai who assassinated Ii Naosuke near Edo Castle.
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Flags from sister cities.
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Miss Hikone Castle
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Miss Hikone Castle
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Tourist Site Clean Campaign
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Kawase Junior and Senior High School band.
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Asahinomori Elementary School in Hikone.
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Hikone Gun Battalion whose members are licensed to fire matchlock guns.
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Hikone Gun Battalion dressed like Ii Clan samurai with their trademark red armor nicknamed "Red Devils."
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Hikone Gun Battalion
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Little Edo Hikone Castle Festival Parade
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Ii Naosuke procession
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Ii Naosuke is portrayed by an actor.
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Ii Naosuke (井伊 直弼) (1815-1860) as the Tokugawa shogunate's Chief Minister (Tairo) who favored and concluded commercial treaties with the Western powers and thus broke Japan's isolation from the world.
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Next are groups wearing period costumes. They are junior high schoolers.
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Heian Period (794-1185) women wearing veiled straw hats called ichime-gasa. 市女笠
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A few foreigners too.
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Samurai laborers carrying luggage for a traveling daimyo.
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Chief retainer who started the construction of Hikone Castle upon the wishes of Ii Naomasa. 家老の木俣守勝
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A daimyo
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Samurai wives
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Shrine maidens from Izumo
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Dancers from Muromachi Period (1337-1573)
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Kamakura Period (1185–1333) women wearing veiled straw hats called ichime-gasa. 市女笠
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Shirabyoshi dancers from the Heian Period.
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Katsugi veiled kimono worn by the nobility in the Muromachi Period.
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Soldiers from the Ii clan.
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Ii Clan's "Red Devil" samurai vassals wearing their trademark red armor.
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Banners with the crest of the Ii clan.
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Ii clan warriors
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Ii Naomasa (井伊直政) (1561-1602 ) was the first lord of Hikone from 1600. He was a general under Tokugawa Ieyasu whom he helped to win the Battle of Sekigahara in 1600. He was rewarded with the fief of Omi (now Shiga) and built Hikone Castle.
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Ii Naotaka
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The Hikone Gun Battalion in formation for a firing demo.
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They fire their matchlock guns.
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The matchlock guns make a huge bang.
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Hiko-nyan
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Hiko-nyan is Hikone's official mascot. A white cat wearing a samurai helmet modeled after Ii Naomasa.
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Sitting like royalty, local politicians such as the mayor sit in a special stand on the right in front of the horse stable. The rest of us stand and watch like peasants.
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Hikone Traditional Fireman Preservation Group
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Firemen
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Fireman's ladder
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They hoist up the ladder for someone to climb up.
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Fireman's ladder acrobatics
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Fireman's acrobatics is a crowd pleaser.
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Sarugaku entertainers from the Omi Sarugaku Taga-za troupe. 猿楽
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Sarugaku is a centuries-old form of entertainment and a precursor to Noh and Kyogen.
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Foreigners carry the shishimai lion heads, but they did not perform with it.
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Dragon dance
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Shishimai lion dance
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Before or after the castle parade, you might as well see the chrysanthemum exhibit at Gokoku Shrine (護国神社), a shrine dedicated to Shiga's war dead.
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Chrysanthemum looking like Hiko-nyan.
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